The Crimson Lotus Gang:
- Charisma, a “human” -mutant- sorceress whose power source is Gamma Radiation which she was exposed to as a child. As a child of the Atom her hair goes green in the presence of radiation and she progressively gets greener the more powerful spells she casts (and as she gets angry). She has no love for the Technic League.
- Sylvanus, a dark elf monk who escaped the clutches of mind flayer slavemasters in the area of the Scar of the Spider after a daring raid by surface dwelling heroes freed her.
- Brokthor, a human fighter who was raised by dwarfs and thinks he IS a dwarf.
- Tufast, a human cleric who serves Thor – power of thunder and lightning. Much like his barbarian family he hates technology and has a particular spite for robots. He sees the cleansing power of lightning as the perfect antidote to the curse of the robot infestation of Nimmeria.
The Valley of the Brain Collectors
By The DM
Our brave band of adventurers continue to explore the Machine Cave for the “four armed lady”. After dispatching four torture bots with some difficulty they decide to be prudent and scout ahead. Sylvanus moves to the next brightly lit room being as stealthy as a dark elf dressed in black can be in a room lit up like daylight. She finds a chamber the walls of which have been plated with grey metal, and an intricate symbol is etched on the floor. Passages enter the room north and east, and a dozen niches line the walls. Each alcove contains a strange tangle of odd mechanical devices protruding from their back walls. Four of the niches contain humans dressed in white each with a holstered weapon at their side. There is something off about them. They don’t react to her presence. Harsh white panels glow brightly in the ceiling fifteen feet above.
Sylvanus retreats back to the group and describes what she saw. After a quick discussion they decide to try and communicate with the statue people. This doesn’t go well as the four “people” animate, pull their weapons and begin firing staying out of melee range as best they can. They are eerily silent and closer inspection its clear they are not humans at all but some kind of cleverly disguised automaton as seams can be seen at the joins of each and their eyes are not quite human. This is confirmed when Charisma scorches one with fire and the “skin” melts away revealing a shiny skymetal skeleton beneath (DM’s Note: I always pictured these guys as the T500, the terminators that look human until you get closer. The precursor to the T800 in the original movie). The battle is over quickly and the adventurers give up on stealth and move to the next room together assuming that everyone who cares would have heard Broktha’s chainsword echoing throughout the complex.
The next room is a mess of intertwined tubes and pistons occupy the east and west walls of this chamber. Corridors exit to the north. A section of the west wall is made of a slightly recessed slab of polished metal that disrupts the regular pattern of smaller grey metal plates on the walls. Bright lights glow in the ceiling fifteen feet above. They quickly figure out this is a door but there is no access panel which is typical of the Silver Ruins they have visited before. Tufast pushes against the door unleashing a blast of steam filling the entire room. Only Sylvanus was nimble enough to completely avoid the blast. After licking their wounds they decide there isn’t a lot they can do without Rikku here (aka “The Rogue”). However, Charisma suggests she uses a knock spell which, fortunately, has a range of 60 feet. They all back out of the room as she casts. The door opens, the trap triggers and a booming echoing knock reverberates throughout the complex. Surprise has never been the Crimson Lotus’ strong suite.
They follow the corridor down to another door, but this one has an access panel. They depress it and enter the Throne of Binox. The walls of this impressive chamber are covered with gray metal plates and decorated with flashing lights, pulsating glass panels, and strange mechanical devices. White glowing strips fill the chamber with harsh lighting, and the floor is etched with complex swirling patterns composed of thousands of tiny symbols. Banks of machinery and technological workstations fill the areas to the north and south, while a large metal panel in the southern wall breaks the pattern of smaller plates adorning the wall.
A large strangely shaped multi-clawed bucket headed robot skitters towards the group like some great unbalanaced insect. More falling than walking in its motion. It says in a grating metallic voice in Gothic “You stand in the presence of the Reconstructed One, Binox the Mighty, Binox the Builder. The One born of the Master Unity, who has forged One’s own realm and seeks to expand the realm to be all realms. Binox demands your obeisance. Having damaged Binox’s creations, you must be volunteered as replacements. Binox will disassemble one of you in payment for your insolence, but allow the others to serve. What say you, little things of gristle and bone? Which will of you pay the price for Binox’s mercy?”
This contingent of the Crimson Lotus doesn’t have anyone who can speak Gothic but are familiar enough with it to recognise it when spoken. Sylvanus don’s her Straw Hat of Comprehend Language but the conversation is mostly one way as they can understand Binox but Binox doesn’t really understand them. Binox takes this as a sign of insolence and attempts to seize them for such impertinence!
Binox spun up his varies implements of pain – drills, bits, claws and a laser torch. He began describing what he would do to each of them and then Charisma shut him down with a Rebuke Technology spell she cast directly from one of Xoud’s looted spellbooks. The group quickly dismantled him and Binox was no more dieing ignobly without a single swipe.
(DM’s Note: I was expecting Binox to destroy the party. Not only was he a CR 12 creature against four level 8 characters they had used up many of their resources in the previous two encounters and the steam bath trap. As Rebuke Technology is essentially a 3.5e spell I translated its effects on the spot as the equivalent of being paralysed with a save every round. I did forget Binox’ hardness of 10 and I suspect that would have given him an extra round and so an extra save but in the end the characters played well. It also showed that one creature, no matter how tough, if shutdown in some way in 5e it is dead meat. Need to have some kind of magic resistance, legendary resistance or mooks for “boss fights”).
After exploring a bit more and finding they could lock the doors in and out of the Throne Room they decided to take a long rest. They then moved on to the control terminal and reactor area. After figuring out how to use the computer terminal to bring up a map of the caves (including a hidden cave they had missed when they first arrived) they could turn the complex lights on and off, lock and unlock the doors and engage and disengage the traps they exited the Machine Cave and headed to the hidden caves adjacent to Binox’ Kingdom. At this point they are starting to think the four-armed lady exists entirely in Paetyr’s head.
Two narrow tunnels connect in this large, low-ceilinged cavern. What appears to be some sort of technological weapon sits discarded on the floor in the middle of the cave. Wisely Tufast pulls out his 10-foot-pole and pokes at the “lasgun”. No response. They assume the “lasgun” is the actual trap (the whole place is clearly a trap) so they use the 10-foot pole to push the “lasgun” out of the way. Feeling proud of their cleverness and getting past a trap without a rogue they immediately trigger and trip-wire and the room is filled with lightning from three detonating arc-grenades. A little worse for wear their mood is worsened by the fact the “lasgun” is a fake to boot!
After some healing they push on around the corner. As soon as the next cave comes into view but a shot rings out and a burst of ice hits the ground in front of Broktha, who is in the lead. A female voice calls out in Gothic. They can’t see who said it or where they shot came from. The group makes a “hands up” gesture and backs down the corridor giving Tufast time to cast tongues. They then respond to the voice in Gothic and can hear an audible gasp from the cave deeper within. A seven foot tall, four armed “women” steps forward. Bearing a striking resemblance to Hetuath and his skeletal army in Torch. She instructs them to keep their weapons holstered and explains she is surprised to see humans here and they can speak Gothic. She invites them back into her parlour where she serves them a meal of roasted giant spider (tastes like chicken!) and tells her tale.
“I am Isuma, and I am from a distant world. This land is strange to me, as I must be strange to you, but it does good that we can talk. I need allies. I need companions. Those who took my previous ones still dwell to the west, and they still defile the bodies of my kin. I need your aid in securing revenge. Do this, and I shall aid you as well, as best I can.”
Where are you from?/How did you get here? “A distant planet called Kasatha. I was invited away from my home by people like you—humans from a great ship called Divinity. They taught me their language, trained me with their weapons, and promised to eventually return me home so that I might share what they taught me with my people. But Divinity was attacked by creatures who identified themselves as the Dominion of the Black. The ship escaped, I know not how, but it was greatly damaged. Society aboard Divinity broke down, and my kin and I were forced to defend ourselves from mutineers. We learned that others on the ship had abducted members of another kasathan tribe and were keeping them as pets in a large contained habitat, but were unable to rescue them. The ship began to shake apart, and my kin and I sought shelter in stasis pods in an escape shuttle—devices intended to sustain life over long journeys. We entered the pods and hoped the escape shuttle would take us home—but I know now that shuttle crashed to your planet along with the rest of Divinity. We woke only recently, as captives of the Dominion. As far as I can tell, thousands of years have passed since Divinity’s crash here. I know not where the rest of the ship lies, or if any of my kin survive. I do know those who did not survive live a blasphemous half-existence as Dominion puppets, and they must be avenged.”
Can you tell us more of Divinity? Isuma’s time aboard Divinity was relatively self-contained in a smaller vessel far from the command module, and the focus of her interactions with the ship’s crew was learning the Gothic language and how to use weapons and technology. She has little more useful to tell .
Can you tell us what dangers await us in the Scar of the Spider? Isuma can provide a crude map of the valley if provided with paper and ink; she knows about Mad Paeytr (area C), the alien grove (area D), the android pilgrims (area F), a fungus-encrusted cave (area H, although she’s not been inside), the dominion dropship (area L—another location she’s not entered), and the dominion hive (area M). She suspects there is a dangerous, poisonous creature dwelling in the swamp, but hasn’t explored that area yet.
What can you tell us of the Dominion of the Black? “They consist of several species of creatures. I know not the names they give themselves, but they use our flesh, particularly our brains, as resources. Some are large and crablike and collect brains for use as magical batteries of some sort. Others are smaller and shaped like brains themselves and use our bodies—one of them is a sadist named Maukui, and it wears a huge, breath-stealing reptile as its suit. Maukui was the one who tormented me and would have killed me had I not escaped. They came here in the vast, decaying organic ship that now lies heaped on the shores of the lake to the west—I have not been into this ruined vessel, but there may be resources and answers within that can aid us in an assault on their hive. It was here that I woke, and I escaped from the den in panic. I’m sorry I cannot recall details the layout of the hive, but I do remember that the doors of the place were valves of flesh that require organic keys to open, and that the walls of the place can see and hear, but could be tricked by certain chemicals. I tricked them by virtue of being coated with the blood of a Dominion agent I’d slain—other substances might work as well, but I am no scientist.”
What can you tell us of the Fungus Cave? “I have not been inside, but I’ve seen the creatures that dwell within—they are as large as us but winged, with insect like limbs and bulbous heads that f lash strange colors. They carry strange weaponry and speak in buzzing voices. They seem to be enemies of the Dominion, but they do not seem interested in alliances. The one time I tried to approach, they nearly killed me. But an investigation of their caves to seize any weapons they might have might be a good idea—they are weaker on the whole than the Dominion aliens, although I know nothing of their total numbers.”
Will you travel with us? If the you promise to help her avenge the deaths of her kin by destroying their bodies and freeing their flesh from Dominion control, she agrees to travel with them.
Have you seen a neurocam anywhere? If the PCs describe what a neurocam looks like, she can’t help them, but once she hears Casandalee’s name, Isuma’s eyes widen. While the kasatha was a prisoner in the Dominion hive, her captor Maukui interrogated her for a short time, demanding to know what she knew of a woman named “Casandalee”—specifically, if her mind was the only “disembodied organic” in the region. She wasn’t able to answer that question and Maukui didn’t pursue it, but the Dominion obviously knows something. Perhaps she, like Isuma was, is a prisoner of the Dominion?
How many mind-flayers are there? “I never saw one, but I felt its presence. Its name echoed in my mind – Dweller-In-Dark-Places. The Neh-Thalgaa are the Dominion thugs, the Intellect Devourers their infiltration units. They also had other… things… which I have no name for”
Using the information they have the Tufast contacts Valhalla asking for aide (i.e. a commune spell). He asks his questions:
- Is Casandalee in the Dominion Hive? Yes.
- Does “Dweller-In-Dark-Places” have the brain-tape? Yes.
- Have the mind flayer’s decrypted the brain-tape? Not yet.
They then spend the next few hours devising a way to assault the Dominion Hive.