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Episode 2: Twilight on the Planet of Fhere

Page history last edited by Ragboy 11 years, 10 months ago

Episode 2: Twilight on the Planet of Fhere


 

Summary

Having few resources and few skills other than "Action!" the heroes protect their only friends on the planet, the arachno-men. Their allies know of an enclave of insurgents in the Wasted Hills where they can take refuge, but the group must run the gauntlet of strange fauna, Vril slavetakers and a detachment of Teschact Centurions tasked with finding the “aliens” and taking them alive. Once they find the enclave, the heroes must convince the arachno-men insurgents that the heroes are not agents of the Vril, and then protect the enclave from a new enemy.

 

Scene 1: Friends of the Arachno-men

 

Make it clear that the slaves the heroes just freed are not warriors, by any stretch. In fact, they aren’t all that friendly. Unless the heroes can speak to them and persuade them to help, the arachno-men bob their heads, wave their many arms and lope off in search of assistance from their own kind. Use these criteria to modify the Persuasion roll:

  • Per Vril defeated - +1
  • No arachno-men were killed - +1
  • No arachno-men injured - +1
  • Aid offered to injured - +1
  • Per arachno-man killed - -1
  • Per Vril escaped - -1

 

Results of Persuasion

Effects Table
ResultStateDescription
0 or lessHostile The arachno-men attack to the best of their

ability and then flee.

1-3Indifferent The arachno-men offer no assistance and leave at the first opportunity.
4Indifferent The arachno-men are grateful, but leery of including the heroes in their plans.
5-7Friendly The arachno-men offer food and water, and provide directions to a nearby cave system for shelter..
8+Helpful The arachno-men include the heroes in their plans, and travel with/for the heroes as necessary.

 

Friends at Last

If the arachno-men include the heroes in their plans, it takes two or three days to reach the Wasted Hills. During this time, the heroes can learn about their new environment. The arachno-men know most about the Vril overseers, including their habits, nearby settlements, weapon capabilities and the like. They know less about the Teschact (regular Vril army) other than describing them and the ability to recognize them. They are also strong in knowledge about the general area, flora and fauna, though similar knowledge about the Wasted Hills is more rumor and speculation. Though everyone will have that knowledge soon enough…

 

There are no planned or random encounters during this time. The arachno-men travel at night and do a good job of hiding their camp during the day. If you need to spice things up on the journey, consult Scene 2 for a table of random encounters.

 

Regardless, the arachno-men provide food and water and direction to the heroes. They only fight if individual arachno-men are in mortal danger and flee at the first sign that the group is being overpowered (arachno-men killed or seriously injured).

 

Troubleshooting

 

If the heroes blow this Persuasion attempt, they have a few options. They can follow the arachno-men and make another attempt after helping them in some way (see Into the Wasted Hills below).

 

They can also seek out shelter. A Survival check and 2 hours (-1 hour for a Survival check raise) produces a cave in the nearby foothills with a ready supply of fresh water.

 

In any case if the heroes strike out on their own, consult the Appendix II: Troubleshooting section for more information on continuing to run adventures on the Planet of Fhere.

 

The Journey

 

The Weeping Plains is a vast grassy sward. The climate here is dry and cool, though in the spring, the place is drenched on a daily basis by massive thunderstorms. As the heroes pass through the plains, they see more of the savage landscape spread before them. Flowering plants the size of large trees dot the plains in small groves. The flowers of these plants are gigantic and dip and bob in the breeze. The aforementioned purple stone spires also scatter across the plains. The stone appears to be the equivalent to granite, though it’s actually a living plant-like creature. Within the stone, other creatures make their homes like the pinh (below) and various avian and insectoid creatures. Other than these, the plains of Fhere are rolling hill after hill of waist-high bluish-green grass.

 

Strange creatures fly through the sky, night and day, though they are too far away to make out details. Vermin, mostly fleet insectoids the size of rats (pinh), live in the grass. When bedding down for the night, the pinh infest anything containing food – ruining it. Large squirms of worm-like herbivores (geoatel) the size of pigs likewise roam the plains. They are non-threatening and attempt to flee when approached closer than ten feet or so. The arachno-men harvest the pinh and geoatel as necessary for food. Both are somewhat disgusting, but palatable and nutritious to the heroes. If the heroes are on their own, it takes a Survival check to determine that these two species are edible and the proper way to prepare them. The pinh must be cooked in their shells (as their innards are mostly liquid) and then the slimy green meat popped out like shrimp or crawfish. The geoatel must be skinned first and then the gut must be removed. The skin is mildly poisonous – Vigor +2 or be mildly sickened for a day (Pace -1) and the gut is just disgusting, cooked or not, though the arachno-men make a sausage that they can’t resist out of the contents of the gut and various spices and tubers (Any human eating this sausage must make a Vigor check or uncontrollably vomit for a full minute). The meat of the geoatel is stringy and tough and must be chewed for hours before it can be swallowed. Arachno-men and other denizens of the plains usually prepare packets of geoatel meat to chaw as they travel long distances.

 

The grass of the plains is a tough and virulent variety that is not only unpalatable to humans, it’s also an irritant. During the journey, at least one hero will come in contact with the grass (decide this randomly if no one specifically mentions actions that will bring exposed skin in contact). Touching the grass requires a Vigor check or the victim receives painful welts on the exposed skin. These welts deal a -1 penalty to all Agility checks (including skills linked to Agility). On a Vigor raise, the hero is not allergic to the grass and need not make further checks on contact. With a successful Heal or Survival check, a hero can determine the nature of the inflammation. On a Heal or Survival raise, the hero also determines that the grass can be made into a poultice to relieve the inflammation. Creating the poultice requires a Heal or Survival check and about a day to soothe the inflammation and remove the Agility penalty. If the heroes cannot determine the nature of the inflammation or make the poultice, they can make a Persuasion check to get the information and poultice from the arachno-men (who are unaffected by the grass), though they have no skill at healing strange human physiologies!

 

Scene 2: Run, Run for Your Life!

 

Once the heroes reach the Wasted Hills, they really get a chance to take in the scenery and interact with the local wildlife. Much to their detriment.

 

Geography Lesson

 

Though the name implies otherwise, the Wasted Hills are lush with hardy bushes and stunted trees, as well as the ubiquitous purple spires and tall flowering plants that dotted the Weeping Plains. The temperature is generally dry and warm, though not unpleasant. The hills themselves are rocky and sprawling, though passage through the area is made most easily via the arroyos and close canyons that cut through the area. The arachno-men seem to know the way, so there isn’t much chance of the group getting lost, however, the creatures of the Wasted Hills crawl through the place seeking nourishment.

 

 

Any encounter area is probably in one of these cramped canyons choked with brush and closed in by cliff walls. Visibility is no more than 50’ or so and the general “operational” area is about 30’x50’ with lots of rocks, bushes and trees for cover/concealment.

 

The Denizens of the Wasted Hills

 

Use this encounter anytime in the heroes are resting, arguing or otherwise not expecting it. This is your standard random encounter list, so roll or pick one. As with random encounters from time immemorial, overuse can lead to boredom and loss of purpose, so use them until you think the story should move on.

 

If the heroes are explorer/scientist types, their journey through the Wasted Hills could net them some helpful medicinal and otherwise useful substances. Many of the creatures they encounter have organs, eggs and other parts which can be harvested for food and profit. A hero can extract poison from any poisonous creature with a Healing, Survival, or appropriate knowledge skill roll.

 

RollEncounterSpecial
2Duala (2-7)60% fruited
3Hruthin (1-2)hunting small bracha herd
4Horned Cat (1-2)Hide grants +2 Stealth
5Blowflies (2-5)None
6-8Bracha Herd (5-20)5 days food each
9

 

Scene 3: The Insurgents and Betrayal

 

About dusk on the fourth day into the Wasted Hills, the group is spotted by scouts from the arachno-men enclave. These scouts range several miles outside the enclave and send chuli bats back to message stations to alert the insurgent leaders. The scouts descend from their perches after night has fallen and approach the group.

 

The scouts are led by Gegelfrix, a commander, veteran of the Ur slavepits and a competent warrior. With him are twenty arachno-men insurgents, some mounted on dringas. Gegelfrix is highly suspicious of strangers, though less so of the arachno-men escapees. He requires convincing that the humans are not Vril pawns or agents of some unknown enemy.

 

You can use a Persuasion roll to accomplish winning over the insurgents, but it’s probably better to just roleplay it, and use events that have occurred since the heroes took up with the arachno-men to the benefit/detriment of the heroes’ case. Things like fighting for the arachno-men in the Wasted Hills, healing the wounded, and such should be to their benefit, and fleeing/using the arachno-men as shields or otherwise being abusive to their allies obviously hurt their position with the insurgents.

 

Once Gegelfrix is convinced that the heroes are legitimate, he relaxes and shares information on the insurgent’s situation (as described in Scene 3: Deep Cover). The insurgents lead the group to an open area with a fresh pool of water and a hidden camp. Feeling magnanimous, Gegelfrix shares gourd-flasks of strong arachno-men liquor with the entire group. The liquor is distilled from a species of beetle and shavings from the living purple stone spires and requires a Vigor check (each drink after the first at a cumulative -1) to avoid becoming stone drunk. Throughout the revelry, one of the arachno-men escapees (Dfriz) does not drink though he mimes drinking well enough. (Notice -2 to his Stealth, unless the heroes are specifically looking for traitors, in which case, it’s an unmodified Notice to his Stealth)

 

By the middle of the night, the arachno-men are eight arms to the wind, and, depending on the heroes’ state, leave the group vulnerable. Of course, that’s when the attack comes.

 

Dfriz is a mindagent of the Vril; little more than a puppet sent to find the heart of the insurgency. After midnight, Dfriz makes contact with his masters, and the Vril dispatch a strike team on a hover barge. They arrive just before dawn.

 

Teschact Centurions (4)

Dhoja Officer

Dhoja Slavetaker (2) mounted on dringas

Dfriz, Vril mindagent (Wild Card)

 

When the fight starts, Gegelfrix and three arachno-men insurgents are the only ones able to fight. All four are debilitated by drink, and take a -2 to all trait tests.

 

Gegelfrix (Wild Card)

Aracho-men insurgents (3)

 

Behold My Powers!

 

When the battle is joined (or the alert sounded), each of the heroes feel a surge of otherworldly power fill them. The powers granted them at the beginning of this episode have finally manifested. Go to town!

 

Tactics

The hoverbarge flies into the canyon silently (Stealth d8), though it can be seen over the stunted trees, and disgorges its troops about half a mile away. The Dhoja officer deploys the slavetakers in a scout positions, about thirty yards ahead, and his centurions before him. The slavetakers dismount and lead their dringas until the battle is joined, at which point they mount up, attempt to slip behind the battle and stun arachno-men not involved in the fight (unnecessarily, as it happens as they are dead drunk). They can stun one arachno-man each per round, and once done, join the battle by harrying the group’s flanks.

 

As soon as the alert sounds in the insurgent camp, Dfriz stands ready as if to fight with his brethren. When the battle is joined, he attacks the most capable hero. He flees upon receiving a wound and returns only if the Vril win the battle.

 

The Teshact rush forward to melee, heedless of tactics, using their stingsword and stingspears with impunity, fighting single combatants until they or their enemies drop, before moving on to the next.

 

The Dhoja officer stands back, firing his plasmagun at targets of opportunity. By the third round, he identifies and challenges the most capable hero to single combat. If no one is particularly capable, he challenges Gegelfrix.

 

The slavetakers and centurions fight until death, though the Dhoja calls off the attack if either two of his centurions or the slavetakers are killed.

 

Aftermath

 

If the heroes are defeated, they are bundled up along with their arachno-men allies, loaded onto the hoverbarge and taken back to a Vril camp (see Appendix II: Troubleshooting). While that is happening, the Dhoja officer executes Dfriz with his stingsword.

 

If the heroes defeat the Vril, only the Dhoja officer and Dfriz have any useful information (if they yet live). Dfriz flees when he receives a wound, but can be tracked down after a couple of hours (Tracking +1). If Gegelfrix lives, he is visibly shaken by the betrayal. The group moves to an alternate location, a cave far up in the hills and sends chuli bats back to their superiors. After a few days, the group is called back to headquarters, as described in Scene 3: Deep Cover.

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