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Shanthic Shrine of the Red Harbinger

October 18, 2014

A few months ago I wrote about using a lightly-modified version of the X-plorers RPG to run a “post-apocalyptic” campaign set on the planet Jorune in the immediate aftermath of the Human-Shanthic War. I also wrote the first part of a session report, and fully intended to write the rest. However, I didn’t keep proper notes during the game and, although I recall the general outline of what happened, the details are lost to me now.

Here, though, is the adventure. All you need to know is that a couple of months have passed since the war. A few dozen traumatised survivors of the East Basin research station (now a shattered ruin) eke out a humble existence in a camp in the forest. They know that there’s a shanthic structure some 30 kilometres north-west of their position. Volunteers with useful skills are required to investigate the structure and report any activity, shanthic or otherwise.

SHANTHIC SHRINE OF THE RED HARBINGER

Random Encounters in the Forest
The shrine is two days’ journey on foot from East Basin. Check once per day for an encounter (2 in 6 chance). If an encounter is indicated, roll 1d6:

1. Bear (1)
2. Scrade (1d3)
3. Tarro (2d6)
4. Tarro (2d6)
5. Weaches (2d6)
6. Wolves (1d6)

Random Encounters in the Shanthic Shrine
Check twice per hour (1 in 6 chance). If an encounter is indicated, it will be with 1d6 dark weaches.

Key to the Shrine
On the surface, the shrine consists of a plain stone building, approximately 9 metres (30 feet) across and hexagonal in plan with a multi-faceted dome-like structure for a roof. There is one doorless entrance. Inside, dry brown leaves rustle and crunch underfoot. A few small insect-like creatures scuttle about and spidery things (loosh) have constructed nests of coarse threads near the ceiling. These little creatures are mostly harmless but if the characters mess with them there is a 2 in 6 chance that something will bite back – THB +0; AT 1 bite (1 hp) – and a 1 in 6 chance that the bite is venomous – make a saving throw or be incapacitated (effectively paralysed) for 1d6 minutes.

From the floor of the building, stairs descend into darkness. Shanthas, like most creatures native to Jorune, use Tra-sense to apprehend their surroundings. They have no eyes and therefore do not require light. Humans, however, will require a light source of some kind in order to proceed.

Level One

HarbingerLevel1Scale: 1 square = 3 metres (10 feet)

1. Antechamber: Four-foot-high cylindrical stone pedestal in centre of room, carved with abstract patterns and with a small depression in the top. If a charged red crystal is placed in the depression, a sudden loud scraping sound is heard and segments of the stone floor of the northern passageway descend, forming stairs down to Room 1 on the lower level. The crystal remains charged. If it is removed, the stone steps rise to resume their former positions, sealing the lower level.

There are two small blackened crystalline objects on the floor. These are the remains of exploded evids. (See “dark weach” in Creatures, below.)

2. Bouncers: Anyone entering this chamber is attacked by evid security. Lying in the NE corner is a red crystal (see Objects, below).

Dark weaches (4): AC 12; HD 1; hp 6, 2, 2, 6; AT 1 sting (special); MV 1 (6); SPC Optional movement (fly); sting inflicts Brain Blast dysha; XP 29.

3. Strangers: Two ragged-looking humans and a thriddle are here. The thriddle accompanies the men under duress. Its trid-nodes are all a-quiver.

The bearded, haunted-looking man who calls himself Vagabond is a Scientist. He lost his wife and child in the shanthic assault on the colony sites. He distrusts all thriddle, believing that they aided the shanthas somehow, or – at the very least – that they know something they’re not telling. He wants to find out what that is. Referring to Bromo Ho-Hid, he says, “This creature will help us uncover the secrets of the shanthas. Or it will suffer.” Vagabond carries a laser pistol with a full power clip (equal to 10 power cells).

Vagabond: AC 10; HD 2; hp 6; THB +0; AT 1 laser pistol (1d6); ST 14+; MV 4; XP 30.

Kagemusha is a Soldier. He is as calm as his companion is twitchy, and has a slightly “spiritual” demeanour. He says, “The shanthas are warriors in the shadows. When they strike, they do so with stealth, with accuracy and without remorse. To protect ourselves, we must learn about them. To fight them, we must become like them. For the sake of what’s left of humanity, we too must become shadow warriors.” He wears leather armour, wields an antique sword from Earth and has one knife in his belt and another in his boot.

Kagemusha: AC 12; HD 2; hp 11; THB +2; AT 1 sword (1d6); ST 14+; MV 4; XP 30.

Bromo Ho-Hid is a youthful thriddle scholar. Kee was on a research expedition that was attacked by hungry wolves and, in the confusion, Bromo Ho-Hid became separated from kis fellows. Kee saw a camp fire and approached the two humans for assistance. They, however, had other ideas. Bromo Ho-Hid wants only to return home, and will be grateful for any assistance. Kee can explain the function of red crystals. Kee has a pouch containing some coditch cakes and a brynk-wood pipe but no giggit.

Bromo Ho-Hid, Thriddle: AC 10; HD 1; hp 2; THB +0; AT 1 kick (1d3); ST 18+; MV 4; XP 15.

4. Empty Chamber: That’s all it is.

Level Two

HarbingerLevel2Scale: 1 square = 3 metres (10 feet)

1. Antechamber: Four-foot-high cylindrical stone pedestal in centre of room, carved with abstract patterns and with a small depression in the top. It functions identically to the pedestal in Room 1 on the upper level. Anyone trapped on the lower level without access to a red crystal is in trouble.

2. The Learning Zone: Triangular stone pedestal with vertical notches holding three sarceens (see Objects, below). A hidden compartment in the pedestal holds a small beagre-leather pouch containing three red crystals. The sarceens contain the following data:

  • Primer on shanthic mythology and cosmology.
  • Information about the nature of evids – and the methods of their construction, though this will be gibberish to anyone insensitive to isho, like humans.
  • Contains what seems to be a vast, confusing catalogue of names and battles in the remote past. This is actually an epic “poem” – the shanthic equivalent of the Iliad, perhaps – but without an understanding of shanthic metrics, let alone the function of isho in their complex language, it is completely unintelligible and likely to induce a headache.

3. The Red Harbinger: Seven-foot-diameter stone globe on a short, cylindrical pedestal. Five red crystals are embedded in the globe’s surface, spaced equidistantly around its equator. Anyone touching a crystal receives a slight charge of Desti energy (1 point of damage) and a temporary increase of 1d6 points to his or her Presence attribute (18 maximum), lasting one hour. During this time, the character may notice glimpses of strange colours out of the corner of his or her eye. In particular, red cloud-like patterns seem to shift and glide over the surface of the stone globe.

If the crystals are pried from their sockets, they become normal charged red crystals.

4. Sholari in Shyee: Dessicated corpse of a shantha. This was the Ca-Desti sholari (“priest”) who maintained the shrine. He succumbed to shyee (“the isholess state”, i.e., death) when the deadly anti-shantha virus was released into the atmosphere by the human scientist Bomoveris. Around the shantha’s neck is an amulet of small carven stones studded with tiny crystals of various colours. This object wards off weaches – not dark weaches, but the regular bloodsucking kind. Lying beside the body is a shanthic blade – a sword made from the thailier (talon) of a corondon. Its lightness and exquisite balance grant a bonus of +2 to hit and +1 damage.

Standing guard over the body like a faithful hound is another evid.

Gotey (1): AC 15; HD 4; hp 11; THB +4; AT 1 tongue lash (1d6-1); ST 15+; MV 4; SPC Lightning Blast dysha; XP 180.

HERE ENDS THE SHANTHIC SHRINE OF THE RED HARBINGER

CREATURES

Bear
The colonists brought animals from Earth, including – for some reason – bears. Many have escaped into the wilderness. On Jorune, competition for the role of top predator is – literally – fierce. It is not certain that bears will survive for long.

AC 13; HD 4; THB +4; AT 2 claws (1d3), 1 bite (1d6); ST 15+; MV 4; SPC Maul for additional 1d6 damage if both claws hit; XP 180.

Dark weach
Not truly weaches (see below), nor even animals at all, dark weaches are evids – isho constructs made by shanthas to act as guardians for places or things. A dark weach does not suck blood but on a successful hit its proboscis delivers a Brain Blast dysha to the victim. It can sting up to 21 times before it needs to rest and recharge. When “killed” these evids release their isho in an explosive burst, inflicting 1d6 damage on anyone within 3 metres (10 feet). (Agility save for half damage.) All that remains is a blackened crystalline remnant of the evid’s isho core.

AC 12; HD 1; THB +1; AT 1 “sting” (special); ST 18+; MV 1 (6); SPC Optional movement (fly), “sting” inflicts Brain Blast dysha; XP 29.

Gotey
Another sort of evid. This one looks like a dog-sized spider with a coiled tongue for a body. The “tongue” is 3 metres (10 feet) long, flexible and fast. Its sharp tip strikes like a dagger. A gotey is also capable of launching the Lightning Blast dysha up to 14 times before recharging. When reduced to 0 hit points, its isho explodes causing 4d6 damage to anyone within 3 metres (10 feet). (Agility save for half damage.)

AC 15; HD 4; THB +4; AT 1 tongue lash (1d6-1); ST 15+; MV 4; SPC Lightning Blast dysha; XP 180.

Scrade
Oily, foul-smelling, five-foot-tall insectoid pests. They hang from trees and ambush prey. On the ground, they jump wildly about, attacking in a frenzy with their sharp, serrated forearms (called “sherrids”). The malodorous brown oil they secrete makes a good lubricant for weapons and other equipment.

AC 14; HD 1; THB +1; AT 1 sherrid (1d6); ST 18+; MV 4; SPC Surprise attack; XP 22.

Tarro
Four-armed, two-legged creatures with prehensile tails, tarro live in the treetops in forested regions. They fill the ecological niche on Jorune that lemurs and monkeys occupy on Earth. There are many different species. The common tarro, described here, is omnivorous and obnoxious. Startled tarro may screech, emitting a deafening, high-pitched racket that alerts everything in the area to the presence of intruders. 50% of common tarro are capable of launching the Stiff dysha (up to four times per day). They like to steal shiny or tasty objects.

AC 10; HD 1; THB +1; AT 4 claws (1 hp), 1 bite (1d2); ST 18+; MV 3; SPC Screech, Stiff dysha; XP 22.

Thriddle
Short bipedal creatures that look like a cross between a plucked game bird and a fig. They are highly intelligent, ever-curious masters of lore and languages.

AC 10; HD 1; THB +0; AT 1 kick (1d3); ST 18+; MV 4; XP 15.

Weach
Eyeless flying creatures native to Jorune. Picture a cross between a bat, a leech and a mosquito. When a weach hits with its proboscis, it holds fast to its victim and starts sucking blood at a rate of 1d3 hit points per round.

AC 12; HD 1; THB +1; AT 1 bite (1d3); ST 18+; MV 1 (6); SPC Optional movement (fly), blood drain (1d3 hp/round); XP 29.

Wolf
The colonists brought wolves too. I know, right? Anyway, those that survive have answered the call of the wild.

AC 12; HD 2; THB +2; AT 1 bite (1d6); ST 17+; MV 6; XP 30.

DYSHAS

Brain Blast
A blue orb that inflicts a sharp pain (1 point of damage) and disorientates the victim (-1 initiative for the next three rounds). The victim must also make a Physique saving throw or drop anything in his hands. Range is normally 9 metres (30 feet).

Lightning Blast
A red bolt of heat that causes searing pain and burns the victim for 1d3 points of damage. The name is something of a misnomer, since electricity is not involved. Range is 36 metres (120 feet).

Stiff
Another red bolt, this dysha causes 1 point of damage and affects the victim’s muscular system, causing the arms and legs to jerk outwards from the torso to their fullest extent. Effectively, the victim performs an involuntary star-jump. If he fails a Physique saving throw, he drops anything he was holding. If he fails an Agility save, he falls to the ground. This dysha is potentially lethal to characters climbing walls or ropes, etc. Range is 36 metres (120 feet).

OBJECTS

Red Crystal
Charged crystals, about the size of a golf ball, have various properties, depending on the type of isho they contain. They can be activated only by characters with a Presence attribute score of 9 or greater. Red crystals can be used (once only) to launch a Lightning Blast dysha at any target within range. This requires concentration and a normal attack roll.

Sarceen
These shanthic devices look like Celtic torcs made from finely carved and polished stone. They are imbued with information. To access the data, which is held in isho form, one must hold the sarceen so that its ends lightly touch one’s temples – and concentrate. If the character correctly attunes her mind to the device (i.e., succeeds at a Presence saving throw) she gains the information in the sarceen. The process takes a minute or two.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Craig permalink
    October 18, 2014 6:09 pm

    Do you think wolves will be accompanying the first astronauts to Mars?

    • October 18, 2014 6:42 pm

      Who knows? We tried sending a Beagle but that didn’t go too well.

      • October 19, 2014 12:16 am

        And if we send a cat, Curiosity will kill it.

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