For the first session of the game, I wanted to keep things fairly simple as we’re still getting a feel for the format, and how much can be done in a single session. So we started with a fairly basic scenario, a young girl has gone lost in the mountains near her home and the PCs are hired out to find her (hopefully alive) and bring her home.
Long time readers of the blog, and those that listened to the beginning of the “A New Can of Worms” actual play, will recognize some of the setting and characters. I’ll start with an outline of the adventure, and then talk about the players and how they handled things.
Lost in the Mountains
Alyssa Tinnett, a young woman in the village of Rosegard, went out “adventuring” in the region around the village after school last day-day. She took her “adventuring pack”, which included a small tent and sleeping bag, rations, water, rope, an all-weather blanket, and a pocket tool. She also took her sword, a gift from the yazirian Talnor at the Streel mine compound, which he has been teaching her how to use. She’s done this in the past and typically returns before it gets dark and the next night-day cycle starts. This time she didn’t return.
It’s late fall on Pale and as a farming village, the citizens are quite busy bringing in the harvest. Her parents and grandparents went out searching for her but were hampered by the darkness of the Pale night. They put out a job request to several mercenary companies in Point True and the contract was picked up by Galactic Task Force (GTF). The PCs were assigned to the job.
Her adventure started out like all her other ones. In this case, after playing in the woods with some of her friends for a while, she went north from the village while her friends returned home. She intended to check out the artificial dome that the sathar agent at the Streel compound was using as a drop point and then continue further north to the small canyon in the mountains to the north. She got to the small camping site that some of the older kids had once set up in the canyon and got her tent set up. After that, she shouldered her pack and started further up the canyon.
A short time later, she heard the sounds of something behind her but nothing was immediately visible. A few minutes later, she got to the top of a small rise in the canyon and looking back saw a pair of large bird creatures, something akin to a giant (1m tall) chicken. She recognized them as Nuks from some that had been killed around the village several months ago. With her way back to the campsite cut off, she began hurrying up the canyon looking for a place she could hide out.
After a while, she came to a steep rock formation that she thought that the nuks wouldn’t be able to scramble up and climbed to the top of it where she found the entrance to a cave. Exploring a bit into the cave, the slope on the inside was even steeper and extended nearly 100 meters into the mountain. Turning back to the entrance, she saw the nuks at the base of the slope. One of them jumped up trying to get at her but slipped back down. She retreated further into the cave but after a half hour and the nuks not leaving, she got bored and decided to do a little spelunking.
Carefully descending the steep interior slope, the cave opened up into a wide long cavern with some side passages branching off to the left. Following one of these side passages, she discovered another large cavern, although not as big as the first. However, as she moved out into the center of that cavern she must have disturbed something as she passed the entrance because there was a large crash and several tons of boulders tumbled down nearly completely blocking the entrance. There was a small opening, but too small for her to fit through.
After searching around for an hour or more, she couldn’t find any way out of this room back the way she had come. There was a passage to her left, and another straight ahead. The first was on her level but the second was up a 20 meter cliff that angled back out over the ground beneath it that she couldn’t find a way up. Exhausted, she curled up in her all-weather blanket and went to sleep, planning to continue looking for a way out in the morning.
The adventure consists of several small steps and encounters that I outlined as follows:
- Mission briefing and aircar flight to Rosegard
- Meet with the family at the Rosegard town hall
- Track Alyssa north
- Encounter with a young sathodragon
- Find nuk prints following Alyssa’s prints
- Find the campsite with damaged tent and lots of nuk prints
- Encounter with a pair of Pale mountain lions
- Track Alyssa and nuks to cave entrance
- Fight with the nuks at the cave entrance
- Explore the cave to find Alyssa and get her out
- Return back to the village
- Possible encounter with a quickdeath or a group of lesser quickdeaths
Encounter and Event Descriptions
This occurs in the GTF headquarters at Point True. The PCs are given the basic information from the Background section above and allowed to requisition any equipment (within reason) that they feel they will need. They are told that they will receive their regular daily pay rate (20 cr/day for my new players) and a 100cr bonus each if the girl is found.
If none of the PCs ask for it, their handler issues them an radiophone in addition to any other gear they request. Once they have their gear, they are flown by aircar to Rosegard. As each aircar can take 3 PCs, there may be more than one. It’s a 30 minute aircar ride but a 4-5 hour drive. The aircar drivers will remain with the aircars at the city center while the PCs are out exploring.
Meeting with the family
This part of the adventure mostly occurs in the city hall building of Rosegard. As they land they are met by the mayor, Genio Washy, Alyssa’s parents, Larroy & Camryn Tinnett, and Alyssa’s grandparents, Steven & Janie Hite.
During this discussion they PCs can learn any of the “What happened” information that the parents might know as well as anything about Alyssa from her background. They know she went north as she told some of her friends and they told the parents when Alyssa didn’t return. They can also learn about the connection Alyssa has with Talnor from the Streel compound.
This bit of the adventure occurs in the valley surrounding Rosegard as depicted in the map below. I drew the map with Inkarte which doesn’t really have sci-fi assets so it has a bit more of a fantasy feel but I whipped this up in about 30 minutes (mostly relearning the interface as I haven’t used it in years). I then added the annotations in GIMP.
The sathar dome is the natural place to start and the villagers can give exact coordinates for its location. It’s about 10 km from the village. The PCs can either walk there (a couple of hours) or have the aircar(s) drop them off (a few minutes). The dome itself is a light-weight, fiberglass pole frame, with a cloth covering. It looks like it was once naturally camouflaged but the grasses and such on it have died and it now stands out against the terrain. It is very light-weight and is about 3 meters in diameter. It is staked down to prevent blowing away but lifting it up reveals that there is nothing under it.
Alyssa’s tracks are easy to find and the PCs can start tracking her north. The terrain is very wild and untouched as only the villagers occasionally come up here. There are small game trails in places and Alyssa seems to be following them and making for the small creeks running through the valley. She’s not trying to hide her tracks so they are relatively easy to follow as the paths have pockets of sand where the tracks are very visible. The waterways are 1-2 meters wide and at most a few tens of centimeters deep. They flow north to south on the map (into the valley from the canyons and then down out the bottom of the map).
Some time after the PCs leave the sathar dome, but before the reach the creek, they will encounter a young sathodragon. As they come up over a rise, it will be on another rise about 150-200 meters away. The sathodragon will see them and rush to attack. If it drops below 50 STA, it will try to retreat and escape.
Shortly after they cross the creeks for the first time, Alyssa’s tracks will be joined by those of two nuks. This will continue until they find her campsite and the destroyed tent with lots of nuk tracks around. As they follow her tracks from the campsite, the nuk tracks will continue to follow her prints.
A bit further on, she seems to become aware of the nuks behind her and the tracks indicate that she’s moving faster and at one point, as the path goes right along the edge of the creek, they vanish. She jumped sideways into the water and then went 20-30 meters upstream in the water before emerging. The nuk tracks are confused at this point but they eventually found her tracks upstream and continued to follow her.
Sometime after the campsite but before the PCs reach the cave entrance, they have an encounter with a pair of Pale mountain lions. On is waiting in ambush near the path and the other is another 20-30 meters up the mountain waiting to pounce as well. If either is reduced to less than half stamina, they will both retreat and try to flee.
Fighting the nuks
Eventually the PCs will arrive at the entrance to the cave. The two nuks are milling around here still not having given up the pursuit even though it’s been nearly 20 hours. When they see the PCs they will immediately rush to attack and will continue attacking until killed.
Exploring the cave
With the nuks dispatched, the PCs are now free to enter the cave. It should be obvious from the lack of tracks leading away and the fact that the nuks were hanging around trying to get up the slope, that Alyssa went in.
I based the cavern roughly on Carlsbad Caverns in Carlsbad, New Mexico. I downloaded a map of the Carlsbad Caverns and then modified it slightly for use in the game. The original map can be found here. Below is the map I used for the game with the relevant locations marked. I took some liberties with the elevations but otherwise used the map as is. If you’ve never been to Carlsbad, you have a long steep decent into the main cave. It’s fairly open in real life, and I closed it up in the adventure, but the blue path is the switchback path you take to get down to the bottom as it is very steep going straight down.
As the PCs are exploring, remember that the only light they have is what they brought with them. They are not going to have large vistas and in some cases may not be able to see the other end of the cave.
If they are calling out as they explore, Alyssa will respond when they are by the cave-in location. There is a small opening, about 15-20 cm in diameter that they can look through and see her once she comes over to it. They will not be able to move the rocks as several of them are quite large (read tons). They can move some but not make the opening any bigger. Given time and effort, a dralasite without any gear could squeeze through the opening to get to her but she still can’t get out.
Alyssa will explain to the PCs about what happened and tell them about what looks like an exit at the top of the cliff on the other side of the room she is in. She hasn’t explored the large room in the upper left of the map yet as she will have just woken up when the PCs arrive.
Eventually, the PCs will find a way to the cliff face and can get her out. It’s 15-20 meters down and an overhang above the room floor where Alyssa is located. They will need to figure out a way to get down to her and get her back up (hopefully they brought rope).
With Alyssa safe, the PCs just need to get back to Rosegard with her. If they think of it, they can simply call for the aircar(s) to pick them up. If they think to do this, the aircars will arrive in about 15 minutes and there is enough room for one to land at a time and load them up.
If they decide to hike back, they will have an encounter with either a quickdeath (from the AD rules) or a pack of lesser quickdeath. It’s up to you based on the abilities and strengths of the party. Obviously, their main objective should be to protect Alyssa. The quickdeaths will retreat if severely wounded or if one of the pack is killed.
Once returned, the village and family will be quite thankful. Alyssa will get a serious scolding from her parents. If the PCs wish to stay for the evening, there will be an impromptu celebration party in their honor. Several of the Streel mine employees, including Talnor, will come down for this. Talnor will also give Alyssa a talking to which she will appear to take more seriously than the warning from her parents. While a bit shaken by her ordeal, the resiliency of youth will quickly kick in erasing the worst of teh adventure and her natural xenophilia will kick in. She will spend a good portion of the party trying to talk to any of the non-human PCs and find out more about them, where they are from, etc.
The PCs will get the 20cr of their pay and the 100cr each for returning Alyssa. In addition, there is a 250cr bounty on each nuk that they can split between the group. If they managed to kill the young sathodragon, that is worth another 1000cr to split between the PCs. Finally, if they managed to kill any quickdeaths, those carry a bounty of 2000cr each.
Of course they need documented proof to claim the rewards. Photographs of the corpses (taken with their chronocoms) will suffice. If they don’t have any documentation, the villagers are willing to send someone up to the locations the PCs give them to get pictures for them. GTF will give them the money immediately even though it will take a few days for the Pale government to issue the reward, which will then just go straight to GTF.
Additionally, the PCs should receive 1-3 XP for the adventure depending on how well they did.
How It Played Out
When I ran this, we had three PCs: Dhuggo (dralasite), Arzdran Garvox (yazirian), and Joey Rufus (humma). They picked up some weapons and gear at GTF HQ and headed out.
After meeting with the parents, they also talked with Alyssa’s friends that had been in the woods with her. After stern words from Joey to Alyssa’s folks about their parenting techniques, the team head up to the dome where they picked up Alyssa’s trail and started off. None of the PCs actually had a tracking skill but two of them had Scout as a secondary skill area so they only had minor penalties since the trail was easy to follow.
The fight with the sathodragon went fairly quickly, Joey used his jumping ability to good effect to get behind it and keep it at a distance while Arzdran and Dhuggo fired on it with their lasers. Wounded, the sathodragon fled into the trees and escaped leaving a trail of blood. The sathodragon didn’t do too well only scoring a single hit on Joey. Joey applied first aid to himself (he’s the medic) and was nearly back to full STA. They marked the spot and continued on. The idea was that if Alyssa’s trail ended and looked like the sathodragon had gotten her, they would come back and track it to its lair to try to find her body.
Continuing to follow Alyssa’s trail they found the nuk tracks and the destroyed tent. Getting a bit worried, they hustled on. Luckily, Joey made a INT roll and noticed the closer mountain lion waiting in ambush for them. Again employing his jumping racial ability, he sprung over the lurking cat landing a few meters beyond it and unloading into it with his laser rifle. Then he notice the one further up the mountain beyond him. He was now between them with his teammates some 20 meters away. However, startled by his jump, and wounded by the laser fire from Joey and Arzdran, the mountain lions decided this was too much work and bounded off, leaving the PCs alone.
The fight with the nuks didn’t go as well. As the creatures rushed the PCs, Arzdran got a shot off wounding one. Joey jumped over them again to the base of the slope up to the cave entrance. The wounded one went after Dhuggo (wielding his nightstick) and the other one turned around to go after Joey. The PCs were doing well, severely injuring the one attacking Dhuggo, but then Dhuggo got a little cocky and started showing off (the player said he started pointing to the mountains, Babe Ruth style, before making his attack) and missed horribly (rolled a 97). The nuk on the other hand didn’t miss and took a bite out of his arm. They managed to finish off the nuks but Dhuggo took a total of 30 STA damage and Joey was wounded a bit more.
As Arzdran examined the cave entrance and kept watch, Joey did a bit of rough field surgery getting Dhuggo patched up and back on his feet.
They then entered the cave and decided to go left once they got to the cave floor. So they almost immediately found the cave-in. Having been calling for Alyssa, she responded to them and they were able to talk to her through the rockfall. She told them about the cliff on the other side of the room she was in. As Joey and Arzdran set off further into the cave complex to try to find a route to her, Dhuggo passed Alyssa all his gear through the small opening and started squeezing his way through.
After taking some twists and turns the others found their way to the top of the cliff where they could see Dhuggo sitting and talking to Alyssa down below. Using rope they brought with them (they had asked about climbing gear back at the GTF HQ and I had told them they shouldn’t need it so I retconed them having it since the reason they didn’t have it was my fault), they hauled Alyssa and Dhuggo up and made their way back to the cave entrance where they called the aircar to come pick them up. It was a little tight with five in a vehicle built for four but Dhuggo and Alyssa were both small and so they made it work.
Getting back to the village, they learned about the bounty on the sathar creatures and one of the villagers offered to go back to where the nuks were to get pictures as proof. They stuck around for the impromptu celebration and the after a while, with a few hours to kill before the day was over and they needed to head back, had the aircar drive fly them up to where they had the fight with the young sathodragon.
Tracking it back to it’s lair, they tossed in a couple of doze grenades which knocked it out completely. They tied it up and called back to HQ to ask if they wanted the thing alive. Receiving an affirmative, they were told that a flying transport truck would be there in an hour to collect it and to hang tight. In the mean time the doze gas wore off and the creature struggled to get free but they had done a good job with the knots (I believe someone rolled a 01) and in its weakened state it couldn’t escape. Joey injected it with a StayDose to try to knock it out which seemed to work. Securing it in the bed of the airtruck when it arrived, they followed the truck back for a while to make sure everything was good an then flew ahead to base to get back home.
All told it took us about 3 hours to play through this.
That’s the adventure and how it played out. I’m still working on getting the audio and video of the game session on-line. So at some point in the future, you’ll be able to listen (or watch) how it ran.
What I’d be interested in is what you think about the information presented for running the adventure. How was the format? Would it be helpful to me organized differently? If you were running this, is there information you would want that wasn’t there? Are there details missing? On the flip side, did I include too much in places? Is there anything too constraining?
Tell me what you think and how I could improve these write-ups in the comments below.