Thursday, 30 November 2017

Once more into the Void Session 17

“Keep it close, burn those webs!”

Thyrell was shouting from behind me as we slowly worked our way through the tunnel filled with giant spiderwebs. The webs looked old, the occasional corpse of a rat or mouse mummified with age but we were not taking any chances.

Ahead Mukah was burning webs and slapping at webs with his sword. This really seems like a bad idea. Maybe we could send the mangy wolf of Thyrell’s forward to scout. I turn to talk Thyrell behind me - and see Thyrell’s boots swinging in the air in front of my face. I look up. Thyrell is caught in the webs somehow and is rising to a hole in the tunnel roof.

I know just what to do. I gather my robes leap and grab Thyrell by the belt flopping my entire weight to the tunnel floor dragging Thyrell with me. Only, Thyrell does not budge and I fall to the hard ground. Looking up I see a thick web wrapped around Thyrell’s neck.



Once more into the Void Session 17: Spiders are people too?

When last we left our heroes they had discovered an ancient road leading up into the mountains. They continued to follow the cleared path through the woods created by the ancient road. Stopping occasionally to check for tracks but not finding anything. The path starts to climb steeply into the mountains and the trees begin to thin out.

The road leads to a partially concealed cave mouth in the side of a cliff. The heroes enter the cave mouth into a long, narrow tunnel. The tunnel extends fairly straight for miles, ascending slightly. After walking for most of the day the tunnel finally begins to widen out. The heroes enter a large cave that is covered in thick, giant spider webs. Assuming the worst, the heroes attempt to draw out the expected spiders by burning and hitting the webs. Nothing happens.

Rather than move on, the heroes decide to pick a side tunnel and investigate. The passage winds into a web-filled cave. Otrivush casts firebolt several times, burning pathways through the webs. On a rock shelf, Mukah discovers a mummified corpse of a halfling wrapped in webs. A search of the corpse turns up a gold coin and a few silver coins.

A few more tunnels are checked and nothing is found. In the last tunnel checked, Mukah, in the lead triggers a trap and is struck by a poison dart.  Otrivush Oto turns to ask Thyrell if Tinda the wolf could scout ahead and discovers Thyrell is being dragged up to the ceiling by webs. His feet already at the height of Oto’s head. Oto jumps, grabs Thyrell by the belt and drops his full weight to the floor. Oto hits the floor, but fails to dislodge Thyrell he is being dragged into a hole in the ceiling by a web around his neck. The rescue attempt by Oto almost kills Thyrell. Alcor runs up and supports Thyrell’s feet to prevent him from choking. At this point three large spiders emerge from the webs near Talrek and Mukah and attack.

Thyrell is dragged into the air. Oto attempts to rescue him.

One spider bites Alcor, another misses Oto. Taking things into his own hands - literally, Thyrell manages to get a hand on the web about his neck and break it, falling to land on Alcor’s shoulders. Looking up Thyrell sees a strange humanoid creature with additional spider-like appendages.

Talrek blasts one spider with Guiding Bolt and strikes another with his Spiritual Hammer. Mukah attacks a spider with his longsword. Talrek is immediately grabbed around the neck by a loop of spider web coming from a hole in the tunnel ceiling. Otrivush attacks from the seat of his pants with Flaming Hands hitting two spiders and killing one of them. Alcor climbs up into one of the holes in the tunnel roof and sees two of the strange spider creatures in a low tunnel looking down through holes into the tunnel. One of the spiders bites Oto but he manages to cling to life (just barely). Thyrell kills this spider with attacks from both of his short swords. Oto, still sitting on the floor, strikes and kills the last giant spider with Magic Missile.

Talrek continues to struggle but is unable to break free as he is drawn into the hole in the tunnel ceiling. Above in a narrow tunnel, Alcor flings a dart, hitting one of the spider creatures in the head. It shrieks in pain. Talrek manages to break free of the web around his neck as he enters the tunnel above. He summons his Spiritual Hammer. Apparently trapped between Alcor and Talrek the creatures suddenly run into the webs and disappear down a narrow tunnel. Talrek angrily shoots magic fire into the webs in the tunnel but the creatures have fled.

The heroes gather in the tunnel below to take stock. There is little thought of chasing the creatures into the web filled tunnels. Oto suggests moving on quickly before the creatures regroup.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Frontier World Starport

More than six months ago I did a post for a planet in the Wolf Sector Stars without number setting (here). Tusa is a frontier planet, unaligned and right on the border between the Onai tribes (Chukulak) and the Unity of Suns. It has a mixed population of predominantly humans with a sizeable portion of Chukulak. In that setting I included a quick thumbnail sketch of Lowpoint Starport.

I decided to to a 3D version of the Starport Map in Blender shortly after. It is a big project and periodically I go back to it and add more details. Sometimes I wish I had put more thought into the sketch but I have more or less stuck to the design. The first thing I did is place the landscape and the buildings. I made tall towers without really thinking of the scale. Once I started detailing buildings I realized how massive these placeholder buildings were and I began downsizing their height a little.

Lowpoint Initial Layout

The first area to get detailed was the Montague Hotel which I posted about earlier (here). Then I set aside the Lowpoint file for months. I have recently come back to it. Fixed up some of the initial design ideas and created new buildings.

Morley’s Bar and Gambling establishment was one of the locations. Ideal for shady ownership separating players from their credits.

Morley's Bar and Gambling Establishment

I needed to fill in some detail to the landscape behind Morley’s Bar so I added a Hyper-Loop transit station allowing quick access to Newalter, the capital of Tusa. Newalter is only 150 km away from Lowpoint so initially figured aircars would be the preferred method of transit but Lowpoint must have thousands of low income local employees who need a cheap method of getting to the starport. The Hyper-loop makes the journey from port to city in 10 minutes. Locals can purchase a monthly pass for only 30 credits. A one trip pass costs 3 credits.

I also did some work on the starport. Filling in my first landing pad. The X2 pad is used by locally operated shuttles that move cargo and people from orbit to the port. The service is run by the Tusa Government office of Tusa Transport. The shuttles used are the locally produced Vanir Shuttle (Chalisgon Industries in Newalter). The Vanir is a large shuttle capable of carrying 2 M-Class containers. There is also a retro-fitted passenger version that can shuttle 80 passengers in cramped conditions.

Vanir Shuttle (Cargo Configuration)

To get passengers from the launch pad to the starport customs I initially put in a monorail but I was not happy with it. So I switched to buses, which make more sense for a frontier planet.

Vanir Cargo Shuttle unloading on Pad X2

I also made a more spacer friendly bar located at the mid-level of a Hotel buildings. The Landing pad features a single balcony level bar.

Landing Pad viewed from an alley across the Piazza.

There is still a lot of work to be done on the setting. I have finished about ⅕ of the buildings. A few warehouses and hotels are done. I still need to work on the central piazza a great deal.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Zaibatsu Hermes Small Trader

Here is a small trader I created for an adventure for Stars without number I am attempting to write. I eventually wrote the small trader out of the plot but I might as well post it. It is a bit of a strange ship because I needed an escape craft that could maneuver.

The Hermes is an older light trader launched in 3155 by Zaibatsu Corporation on Comarid. It proved very popular in the Comarid region and some of them made there way to the Unity of Suns region. The Zaibatsu corporation went bankrupt as part of the coup that installed a military government on Comarid ub 3169.  This has made it very hard to get parts for the spike-1 engines on the Hermes which were proprietary technology of the shipbuilder.

A battered Hermes Light Trader that has seen many owners

No new Hermes light traders are available. The vast majority of them are about 35 years old and have seen multiple owners. Resale prices depend on condition and can vary from 300K to 360K. The most important part of the ship to set resale price is the condition of the engines. Thirty plus year old spike drive engines can become a little quirky, especially if they have seen a lot of use.

The Hermes is configured for atmospheric entry and has a large cargo bay that could hold a standard 30 foot by 10 foot Medium container but normally it is filled with a few dozen small containers.The Hermes has extended stores and can support up to three full time crew. Some captains have turned the crew quarters into a few cabins for passengers.

Hermes Trader fueling on Tyr

One peculiar feature of the Hermes is the escape module. The entire nose cone of the Hermes is designed to separate from the main hull and has a pair of single jump spike-1 engines. Most Hermes traders never have to use this feature and the escape engines are often cannibalized for parts for the larger main engines.

The Hermes Escape Module

Hermes Light Trader Key Characteristics
Speed 4, Armour 2, Hit Points 12, Crew 1-3, AC 7, Power 5, Free Mass 4, Hardpoints 1.
Atmospheric configuration, Spike drive-1, Lifeboat, Cargo Space, Extended Stores, Mult-focal laser.

Cut Away view of the Hermes Light Trader

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Once more into the Void Session 16

“Agut rak Nungblatz!”
This is not going to work I thought. Twenty feet in front of me Mukah is standing in front of a large, wooden door set in the side of a hill. He appears to be yelling insults at the door.
“Agut rak! Angbla Gat Zan!”
I shake my head, this is really not going to work. I pull myself up straight trying to hide my large frame behind the bare tree between me and the hill. To my right Thyrell is ducking behind a bush and Talrek is edging behind a rock. Ahead of me to Mukah’s left, Alcor is creeping up toward the door from the side.
It looks like Mukah is frustrated, wait he is leaning forward like someone is yelling from behind the door.
The door comes flying off its hinges toppling into Mukah. I look past Mukah and see a giant-like creature with two heads! Nodding I mutter: “Now the fun begins.”

Once more into the Void Session 16: Two heads are not better than one.

We have missed a few weeks, so we decided to play two weeks in a row. Which was a little strange (I forgot) but welcome.  When last we left our heroes were wandering about the mountain valleys looking for clues to the necromancer behind attacks against Winterton. As the night fell we had come across a wooden door set in the side of a hill. Smoke was curling up from the hill into the sky suggesting someone was home.

We waited to get a good night's rest and more before heading out before noon to the nearby mysterious hill. The heroes made some clumsy attempts to stealthily approach the door in the woods. However, as the heroes approached the hill both Talrek and Mukah set off bear traps hidden in drifts of snow. Mukah is actually caught in the trap but he manages to pry it open and extract his foot. Trying to be more careful, Mukah makes it to the door and notices there is an eye slit about 6 feet up the door. Mukah opens the eye slit but does not see anything. However, he can hear indistinct voices in the distance.

Mukah signs to the other heroes that his has a plan and he motions for everyone to take cover. Then, incredibly, Mukah walks up to the door and loudly knocks. Then Mukah proceeds to shout out in Orcish demanding to be let in.

“It’s cold out here, let me in! It’s cold out here and my party was ambushed by humans! Let me in!”

Mukah hears voices and dogs barking. There is a pounding noise and then, with little warning, the door explodes off its hinges crashing down on Mukah who scrambles to get out of the way. Framed in the doorway is a two-headed giant (ettin) and two mastiffs.

The Door in the Hill opens

Talrek immediately attacks the ettin with Guiding Bolt and his Spiritual Hammer. Oto casts Magic missile striking the ettin as well. Mukah leaps to his feet in a rage and strikes the ettin with his sword. The monster is staggered by the fury of the sudden attack, but it recovers and attacks Mukah with a battleaxe in one hand and a morning star in the other. The two mastiffs also move to attack Mukah.

Thyrell directs his wolf Tinda to attack. The wolf grabs one of the mastiffs and tears its throat out quickly killing it. Alcor joins the melee missing the ettin with his spear but punching it right in the left heads mouth.

Thyrell shoots the second mastiff with an arrow in the head killing it. Talrek and Oto attack with magic again. Mukah then stabs the ettin with his sword in a mortal wound. The dying ettin strikes Mukah with his battleaxe before dropping dead.

The heroes take stock after the battle. Only Mukah is seriously injured so Talrek casts Cure Light Wounds on him. Oto had stumbled into a bear trap during the fight but he has suffered only a minor injury.

The heroes make their way into the ettin’s cave. They find a crude kitchen, eating area and bedchamber. A search reveals a hidden dog door leading from the bedchamber to the front entrance of the caves. In the dog run Thyrell discovers the ettin’s treasure. A pouch containing 19 gold pieces, a vial of liquid and a scroll case. Oto is handed the scroll and he discovers it is just a cantrip spell that he already knows.

It is still early in the afternoon so the heroes set out again following the river to the south. After walking for a few miles they notice a pathway or unnatural clearing heading through the forest. It is just before sundown so the heroes set up camp and standard watches. Again they hear the screech at night, now sounding close and to the south. The next morning a vote is taken, and it is decided to follow the path. Beneath the snow the they see evidence that the path is an ancient roadway. Since the trail is wide and flat, Oto puts on his skies. The heroes are able to make really good time and travel a good distance into the mountains. The path gradually begins to rise into the mountains.

The heroes make camp just off the roadway. Around midnight they again here a distant, screeching cry. Now it sounds more distant and to the southeast. The night otherwise passes without incident.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Once More into the Void Session 15

So cold, shivering, can’t get comfortable.
What was that? It cannot be my turn at watch already. My feet are frozen, I should have kept my boots on. I pull back the blankets from over my head and look about the camp. It was still too dark to get up but someone was screaming and thrashing about and growling.
“Alarm! Alarm! We are under attack!”
Thyrell’s yells pierce through my sleepy brain. Attack. Again. Looking over to my right I see Alcor run by yelling and leaping through the air attacking a large, furry white shape the size of a mountain.
I drag myself to my feet. In front of me, not fifteen feet away Alcor is stabbing a HUGE white-furred wolf creature.
Fury boils inside of me and I pull up the words for the first spell that I can think of.

“Manibus stuppea Flamma!”

Flames boil up in my hands and I spread them out directing the flame in a funnel towards the wolf. Looking up I see a startled Alcor in the path of the flames yelling.

Once More Into the Void Session 15: Trouble with Wandering Monsters

After a few weeks off we are back at it again.

The last session ended with a long rest after we successfully killed a family of basilisks in a cave near a lake high in a mountain valley. We are still searching for clues to lead us to the sorcerer who is behind the attacks on Winterton. Before setting out again we harvest some basilisk fluids from the corpse of the largest creature. Oto’s readings suggest the group might be able to make a cure for petrification from the fluid. After some discussion of where to head next we decide to keep following the shore of the lake deeper into the mountains.

After stomping for miles through the snow the group comes to a tributary flowing into the lake from the north. It is a rapidly moving mountain river with no possibility of being crossed so the group turns and follows the river upstream. Eventually, we find an area where it could be crossed between the frozen edges and a downed tree. However, we decide to keep moving north. The river leads to another lake in the foothills of the mountains. Not sure where to head next we decide to make camp as darkness is falling. Watches are set.

During the night, on Thyrell’s watch, an enormous white furred winter wolf sneaks up on Thyrell. Rushing out of the darkness, Thyrell does not see the wolf until it is nearly upon him. He tries to defend himself but is grabbed in its jaws and flung across the campsite in a loud crash. Thyrell yells to wake the other heroes from their slumber.

Alcor is the quickest to react, he charges the wolf stabs it and delivers a bone-crushing round house kick to the ribs. Otrivush fires off a cone of flame at the wolf using burning hands, directly at the wolf and Alcor but using his skill with Evocation he makes the flames miss Alcor and only strike the wolf.

The wolf, stops, angrily bares it teeth and blows out a cone of bone-chilling cold enveloping Alcor, Mukah and Otrivush Oto. All of whom are shaken and take damage. Mukah goes berserk and attacks recklessly with his sword but it bounces off the hard pelt of the wolf. Finally, Talrek gets up and attacks first with Guiding Bolt and then his Spiritual Hammer. The hammer crushes the wolf in the head and it collapses in a heap. Alcor leaps at the prone wolf and attacks but it is already dead.

A Winter Wolf attacks in the middle of the night

Out of the woods come dashing two more white furred wolves. But these wolves are the size of normal wolfs. Oto blasts the leading wolf with Magic Missile while Mukah swings and misses the other wolf with his sword. The lead wolf crashes into Oto biting him in the shoulder.

At this point Thyrell uses his beastmaster skills and calms the second wolf. It whimpers and comes to his side. Thyrell has found his beast companion who now accepts him as its pack leader. The first wolf, howls and runs away. Mukah takes the time to cut the pelt off of the dead winter wolf.

Talrek casts healing on the most gravely injured but we decide to go back to sleep for long enough for a full long rest. Refreshed in the morning we decide to head back in our tracks to where we saw a possible crossing of the river. The group makes it to the crossing and does manage to cross without any mishaps. Even Oto stays dry for the most part. Evening is falling so we make camp inland a short distance from the river.

In the morning the group heads west following the river valley again. After a few hours, Thyrell claims he can smell woodsmoke. His snuffling wolf companion seems to confirm he is correct. Thyrell and the wolf venture quietly into the woods away from the river by themselves. As dusk falls they come upon a rocking outcrop with smoke rising from cracks in the rock. In the face of the rock is a crude door. After watching for a short period of time and seeing nothing, they head back to the rest of the group to report.

By the time Thyrell returns to the group, night has fallen and the others have set up camp so it is decided to investigate the door in the hill in the morning. During the night the group hears occasional airborne screeches far in the distance.