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Episode 1 - The Last Vacation

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Planet Fear

Episode 1: The Last Vacation

Planet of Fear Main Page

 

 

Summary

Having few resources and few skills other than "Action!" the heroes respond to a free vacation offer on the South Sea island of Tinian. Though things seem to go well, at first, suddenly they are victims of a massive earthquake and must escape the hotel as it falls in around them. Once they escape, however, they find themselves in the power of a strange entity known only as Mindhead. The entity tasks them with finding the source of mysterious cosmitronic energy. When they emerge from the wreckage of the hotel, they find themselves on the blasted Planet of Fhere.

 

Scene 1: Holiday in Hell

 

Almost four weeks ago life was good for the heroes. Arriving in their mailboxes were free tickets and a free month-long stay at a new resort on the South Sea island of Tinian. Making arrangements, the heroes arrived in paradise. Throughout their stay, every need was anticipated and every wish seemingly granted. Though the heroes became acquainted, they spent much of their time living out dreams that only the super-rich could imagine. Like all good things, however, soon their dream vacations will end, though the staff of the Hotel Paradiso plans to send their guests off in grand style. The last night of their stay a massive party is planned, with the heroes as the guests of honor. The scene opens with the party in full swing…

 

Party Like It’s 1999

 

It’s been like living a dream, and the final bash is nothing short of amazing. Carved ice sculptures of dolphins, whales and other sea life dot a massive ballroom. Along the edges cluster tables overflowing with food, beverages and beautiful guests from the world over. Everyone toasts you, begs to dance with you, and otherwise treats you like the guest of honor. The music is loud, the champagne free-flowing and a cool tropical breeze blows in through the balcony windows overlooking a moonlit sea. At first, you think the quivering of the floor must be a combination of the music, dancing and free-flowing champagne. However, when a near life-size ice sculpture of a killer whale topples onto the bandstand, shattering ice and killing the music in one fell swoop, you suddenly realize that something is amiss. The music is gone. The room is dead silent, and still the floor shakes with an increasing intensity that can only mean earthquake.

 

Have the heroes mark their positions within the ballroom or the balconies. Once the earthquake starts, things start to move very fast. The guests panic and break for exits and even balconies and windows, only to realize that the ballroom is overlooks a high sea cliff. All is pandemonium as the hotel literally begins to shake itself off of its foundation.

 

Have each hero draw an initiative card and use the Effects table below to determine a round-by-round danger. The overall situation progresses as below.

 

  • Round 1 – Guests begin to panic and flee toward the exits. All movement is cut in half, though with a successful Agility check, heroes can move at -2 Pace.
  • Round 2 – Chandeliers and chunks of the ceiling begin to fall into the crowd, who’s by now clustered at the only two exits from the room.
  • Round 3 – The wall containing the doors collapses, bringing down the floor above, as well as furniture and other debris. Egress from the room is impossible. Anyone within 20’ of the north wall must make an Agility check or be struck by falling debris for 3d6 damage. On a snake eyes, the hero is buried in rubble and cannot escape without assistance.
  • Round 4 – Cracks appear in the floor in the south half of the ballroom. The cracks widen quickly, requiring a Strength check to jump over.
  • Round 5 – The entire south half of the ballroom shifts, drops, then breaks away, plummeting into the sea far below. Those in the area must make an Agility check or begin sliding toward the edge.
  • Round 6 – The rest of the ballroom collapses into the basement. All heroes are knocked unconscious. Fade to black.

 

Effects Table

Roll 2d4 and consult the table below or choose a nasty effect as desired. To mix it up a little bit, have one or more heroes confronted with problems where they either keep themselves from danger or attempt to save someone else. For instance, they notice that the chandelier is about to fall on a hapless and panicked waitress cowering under a table. Or, the hero convinces the mob to work together, rather than panicking (Into the Press effect, below). Award temporary Bennies (useable only in this scene) for every creative situation the heroes negotiate.

Effects Table
Die RollEffectDescription
2NauseaSomething the hero sees causes nausea. Spirit check or Shaken.
3Ice KnivesAn ice sculpture falls and shatters throwing razor sharp shards in all directions. Agility check or take 2d6 damage, small burst template.
4ChandelierThose beautiful chandeliers and their romantic lighting plummet to the dance floor dealing 3d6 damage to anyone clumsy enough to fail an Agility check.
5Floor CrackThe place is coming apart. Cracks appear in the floor large enough to impede movement. Strength check to jump over them, or fall prone. On a snake eyes, the hero falls into the crack for 1d6 damage and are trapped.
6MasonryDid we mention the place is coming apart? Agility

check or 3d6 damage from pieces of the hotel.

7Into the PressThe crowd is panicked, turning into a many legged mad beast. Deal with this as you will, but falling beneath the beast deals 3d6 damage per round.
8Mysterious StrangerA pale man dressed in all black from hat to wingtips stands in the maelstrom seemingly unaffected. Those that attempt to approach him are assaulted by one or more effects above, and the man seems to disappear into the chaos.

 

Disaster Area

The heroes awaken after an undetermined amount of time in utter blackness. Though banged up, they don’t seem to have any additional wounds from the collapse of the hotel. Here’s what they know:

 

Sight: Utter dark.

Sounds: Gushing water somewhere nearby, hissing, off to the north they faintly hear moaning (Notice check).

Smells: Raw Sewage, faint smell of natural gas (Notice check -2).

Feeling: Cold, clammy. Covered in muddy debris.

 

Exploring the Area

If any hero happened to have a pen light or other light source, they can survey their surroundings visually. Note that using a lighter or other open flame is not recommended (see below). Otherwise, the heroes can feel their way around the space.

 

The space is an irregular hallway bounded by debris that dead-ends to the southwest and leads to a more open area to the northeast. Crushed in the dead end is a security guard, a maglight still clutched in his hand. Digging out the guard takes thirty minutes or more of disgusting bloody work, only to discover that whatever he possessed below the navel is crushed and lost.

 

The open space is likewise bounded in debris and appears to have no exit. Raw sewage is gushing from the northern pile of rubble and is quickly filling up the 30’ deep trench that fills the northern end of the space. Anyone in the room must make a Spirit check or become nauseated (Shaken). The trench fills in ten minutes and begins to spill over into the room. After another ten minutes, the sewage is waist-deep, though the spill slows to a trickle at this point. The only egress from the area is gained by climbing the debris on the eastern wall and uncovering a small passage through the ruins (Notice check if specifically looking).

 

Passage Out of Hell

The irregular passage leads mostly upward, though it twists and turns through broken furniture, masonry, wood and bodies. The climb is difficult and anyone failing a Climb check falls on the treacherous terrain dealing 2d6 damage.

 

The smell of natural gas is more pronounced here, though not dangerous (Notice). About thirty feet up the passage, the smell of natural gas is unmistakable. At this point, if anyone has an open flame, the gas ignites dealing 6d6 damage to everyone in the passage and causing an avalanche of debris that causes another 4d6 damage. After seventy feet in the passage, the gas begins to affect the heroes. They must make a Vigor roll for every round spent in the gas or become exhausted. Death occurs after 2d6 minutes. The gas jet is buried in the debris, but the danger zone only extends about a 20 foot span of the passage. Above that, the air is clear.

 

About five minutes after clearing the gas zone, the heroes begin to faintly hear a rhythmic banging, as if on a metal pipe. On a Notice roll, they determine that the noise is coming from behind the debris in the passage. On a second Notice roll, they discover a second passage that runs more level, though it’s also composed of barely stable rubble. This passage leads to the Vault of the Mindhead.

 

The ascending passage continues for another hundred feet or so and dead ends in debris. No amount of digging can save the heroes, at this point, and all looks hopeless.

 

Note that you can use this portion of the adventure to introduce any Extras that you think the heroes might need, either trapped in the rubble or climbing through the passage like the heroes.

 

Scene 2 – Vault of the Mindhead

 

The passageway to the vault dips and falls, necessitating more climbing (see rules above). The heroes must pass through two dangerous areas to reach the Vault: The flaming jets and the mad mob.

 

Flaming Jets

 

As the passage descends, everyone begins to feel an unnatural heat rising around them. Before long, an orange glow is also discernable. Finally the passage levels out again to a wide chamber that seems out of Hell. Natural gas lines have snapped all along the wall and ignited. The room is intensely hot, but not enough to cause damage. The heroes must make their way across the room to continue down the passage. A “safe” path exists (Smarts check) through the jets, where the heroes must thread the needle, sometimes crawling low, other times jumping over jets of flame. The flames themselves cause 2d6 damage on a failed check (Agility for walking the safe path and crawling, Strength for jumping).

 

The Mad Mob

 

The passageway descends into a wide flat area crowded with refugees from the disaster. Driven insane by the collapse, injuries and the hopeless conditions, the mob is busy attacking each other and the unstable walls. Groups of them immediately come after the heroes, who must fight their way through the press to the passage beyond.

 

As the fight progresses (2 or 3 rounds), the chamber begins to come apart, so they must also deal with falling debris (Agility or 2d6 damage per round). Innumerable improvised weapons exist to assist the heroes and from down foes they can scrounge a handful of knives, a .38 pistol with eight rounds of ammo, and various chair legs, iron pipes, and the like.

 

Brain Vault

 

The ruined passage gives way to a massive space bounded by rubble. A pool of water covers most of the floor, though passage around it looks possible around to the left. Dominating the center of the room, however, is a massive glass column glowing a sickly purple. The column seems to be filled with bubbling liquid and a giant brain that flashes with electrical energy.

 

Give the heroes a couple of “whats?” and then continue:

 

A booming voice fills the chamber, punctuated by pulsing electricity across the floating brain: Servants of the Mindhead, step forth that I might see you!

 

Whether or not the heroes comply, it continues:

 

”You have come to this place by my power and will leave it only by my power. My terms are these: Find the source of cosmitronic energy outside of this passage.” Behind the column a passage out of the room lights up. “Bring this source back to me. Agree to these terms or be destroyed!”

 

Give the heroes a chance to respond and interact with the creature. It will not answer questions about itself, though it will proudly recount how easily the heroes were drawn to the island through free offers and royal treatment. Questions about what lies beyond the passage are ignored. The Mindhead will not actually destroy them directly, however, if they truly refuse to its terms, the earthquake begins anew and debris begins to shift. There is no other way out of the rubble other than the passage the Mindhead illuminated. Within minutes the space implodes, trapping the heroes either in the entry passage, or under tons of rubble.

 

Agreeing to the Mindhead’s terms and following the passage, leads to the next scene.

 

Scene 3: Plains of Fhere

 

Similar to the other passages through the ruin, the passage from the vault twists and turns. Two events occur in the passage before the final shocker.

 

Amiss in the Mist

 

About ten minutes away from the vault, the heroes begin to notice a faint mist or fog filling the passage. This fog gets thicker, but appears to be harmless, other than limiting vision. At about this point, the passage begins to branch in various places with no indication where the heroes should proceed. Turning back, even turning back into the main passage only produces more branches. Have the heroes make a Notice check. Those that succeed occasionally see a dark shape dart into a passage or linger just out of clear vision in the mists. Even over the rough debris of the passages, the heroes hear nothing but dripping water.

 

At a particularly difficult area of the passage, as the heroes climb over the broken terrain, the fog seems to recede and blow flies from the plains of Fhere fly out of the mist.

 

Blowflies (1d6+1)

 

 

Come the Darkman

 

The twisting passage gives way to a natural stone floor and opens into a massive natural cavern. Standing in the middle of the floor is the black clad man from the ballroom. Seeing him here, he seems strangely out of proportion, legs too long, arms too short, and torso seemingly too thin. As the heroes approach, the dapper man seems to grow and becomes a creature out of nightmare. Insectoid legs and wings unfold from its back, and its “hat” becomes a vaguely human face. The creature immediately speaks:

 

“I mean you no harm. Like you I am a prisoner of the Mindhead, but unlike you, I fight his control daily. I mean to thwart his plans to gain control of cosmitronic energy, and in doing so, grant you a boon. Passing through that gate will take you far away, but it will also grant you powers that will help you survive, and eventually, fight the Mindhead when he comes to claim his prize.”

 

The Darkman indicates a passageway behind him filled with an orange mist. His message delivered, the image of the darkman shimmers and disappears.

 

Welcome to Fhere

 

As the heroes step through the portal, they acquire a set of supernatural powers, as described in Appendix I: Character Creation. The heroes are aware of the changes, though they are unable to use their powers in the encounter below. Once they take up with the arachno-men, their powers fully develop in the first scene of the next episode. In game terms, assume the group has developed the powers, but lack the necessary power points.

 

Once through, the unnatural vista of Planet Fhere stretches before them.

 

You see a savage scene laid out before you in the mauve twilit air. A rolling grassy plain stretches as far as the eye can see, broken by tall, craggy spires of purple stone. The sky is wrong. Massive moons hang in the air, a hundred at least, at various heights, though you can’t tell if they hang within the planet’s atmosphere or beyond it. One such moon, the largest, is cracked and broken, seemingly held together by its own gravity. Creatures move out there, on the ground the through the air, and your eye catches an artificial device, seemingly a disk, gliding toward your position. The thing pitches slightly, and you see a humanoid creature stretched out across the disc, seemingly piloting the thing, as it streaks overhead and is lost in the gloom.

 

Within minutes of being buzzed by the scout, two Dhoja overseers ride up on their skeletal dringas. Behind them run several arachno-men slaves armed with various tools and work implements. One of the overseers reins up, keeping a watchful eye on his slaves, as the other lowers its plasmalance and charges the heroes.

 

Dhoja Slavetakers (2)

Dringas (2)

Arachno-men Slaves(10)

 

 

The one overseer attacks until slain, while the other begins herding the arachno-men away. If the attacking overseer is killed, the arachno-men rise up and attack their remaining master. The remaining overseer sends a mental message to his flying scout, who takes off for the slave camp several miles away.

 

Should the overseers defeat the heroes, they are bound up and taken back to the slave camp. The camp is described in Appendix II: Troubleshooting.

 

 

Navigator

Episode 1 - The Last Vacation
Episode 2 - Twilight on the Planet of Fhere
Episode 3 - Against the Rat Lords
Episode 4 - Comes the Eternity
Episode 5 - In the Chains of the Overseers
Episode 6 - End of the Great Game
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