Something Creates! – An Adventure (Quest #2)

Introduction

These past two weeks have been a whirlwind for me! My partner has move to Florida for their job, and we’re going to be separated geographically for at least the next 10 months. It isn’t anything particularly new for a military spouse. We’re thinking of it similar to a deployment, but this time it is because my job is the reason we’re not together.  Speaking of which, my daily work is really beginning to pick-up and I’m doing more than just training and company indoctrination. What this means is that my brain sometimes is more tired than I’ve been used to when I come to write these articles.  This isn’t a bad thing, in the long run. I’m wanting to one day be able to freelance, but I don’t ever plan on it becoming my full-time gig, so learning how to push past my ‘work’ tired and get excited to write creatively is a mental muscle I need to start strengthening.

Helping on that end is, yet again, are some Ron Lundeen articles.  In the first one, Ron talks about his plan to write a 5000 word adventure over the weekend.  It got me thinking about what I wanted to do with this 2500 word adventure that I’m releasing today.  What was even more interesting to me though, was his report on how it went.  Ron’s talk about map and encounter space is important to keep in mind , not so much for this project but down the road good advice in general.  I don’t plan on having maps for most of the Quests in this series, but the more I think about it, the more that I think at least Quest #5, should have a map.  Quest #3 is another likely candidate for a simple map once the PCs get through the “toxic & caustic” environment.  What was even more important to me for today’s entry was the discussion about the difference between how Paizo products and 3rd Party Publisher products have to handle stat blocks. Most importantly, the fact that stat blocks count towards final word count. I did not follow that rule in Quest #1 seeing as how I was at the 2585 mark before counting stat blocks. This is all about learning though, so for Quest #2, I’m going to make sure that I stay around my 2500 goal including the stat blocks this time around. The one caveat is that if it is a repeat stat block because of my Appendix setup, I’ll only count the stat-block once. We’ll see how I do!

Abandoned Gaze – Quest #3 Title

The Gazing Sector was originally built by astronomers and galactic surveyors for the clear skies and easy views of the stars beyond.  Unfortunately, with the discovery of the valuable metals & minerals, mining and industry became the focus of the colony.  Within a few years, the smog became too thick at the elevation of the Gazing Quarter that those that lived there for professional reasons moved away. This left the Gazing Quarter bereft of tax revenue, forcing the Thuringag Council to abandon some of the civic structures that were built before the star gazer exodus.  This left a wonderful community center for the Sanguine Raiders to establish as a safe house in the Gazing Quarter.  Many of the locals suspect that this abandoned building was once used by the Raiders. In the last few weeks though, activity at the community center has declined for some unknown reason.  Really though, the Raiders have just left a cache of supplies there and consolidated their crews to more profitable sectors of Thuringag. With the Cosmic Combiners looking for the Raiders, they might find this abandoned safehouse!

Summary

Cosmic-Captain Farasa briefs the PCs. He tells them that the Thuringag Council has asked for the Combine’s assistance in searching for the hideout of the Sanguine Raiders, with some information about which Sector they might be able to begin their search.  Using a variety of skills, the party will eventually discover that many of the citizens believe that the Community Center has been used by the Sanguine Raiders. When the PCs arrive at the Community Center, they find a decrepit building.  The building is trapped in such a way that any entrance the PCs might use will be where it is trapped with a mystical trap.  After triggering or bypassing the trap, the party comes upon a burgeoning colony of khefak and reactivating some security robots.  After defeating the khefak and robots, the party discovers a message crystal that explains how to find the primary hideout of the Sanguine Raiders. 

[[SIDEBAR: Jumping In
If your PCs have not played “Meeting the Council” inform them that they were in a meeting the previous day with this world’s Council, only to have been interrupted by the Sanguine Raiders. The Raiders demanded near total control of Thuringag, but the PCs were able to beat them back. It is now the next day]]

Getting Started

Read or paraphrase the following to get the adventure underway. The lizardfolk Cosmic-Captain Farasa contacts all of you over your hyperspace communicator with a ring.
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When you answer Farasa’s call, you see the frill on his head bobbing back and forth, but nothing else.  You hear “Oh! It made the connection! I’ve been waiting for the connection to complete for 30 minutes now.  Technology just isn’t my jive. Anywhos, the Thurinag Council has asked the Cosmic Combine to look into the group that attacked the meeting yesterday, the Sanguine Raiders.  The Council is willing to give us favorable archaeological and exploratory claims if we can help curtail the nefarious Raiders. They’ve done a decent job of keeping the majority of their hideouts on the downlow, but the Council informs me that the defunct Gazing Sector has reports of Sanguine activity as recent as two months ago.  Go to the Gazing Sector and suss out their hideout there, and hopefully find more information about this enigmatic group.
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Possible questions and their answers appear below.

Why are we looking for the Sanguine Raiders? Just yesterday, the Sanguine Raiders attacked a meeting between the Cosmic Combine and the Thuringag Council. The Council has requested that we help find the Raiders to stop their stranglehold on Thuringag’s economy.

Can local Security Services help us? Unfortunately, due to the economic downturn of Thuringag, the Thuringag Security Service is barely able to provide protection to miners and their convoys and provide basic border protection against some of the larger and violent fauna of the planet. 

Finding a Community

Read or paraphrase the following ot transition the adventure from Thurinag’s Center to the Gazing Center
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Thurinag wasn’t much to look at to begin with, thanks to the economic downturn it is experiencing.  It gets worse as you move further away from the spaceport and the Council’s Chambers. Especially as you get to a smog filled section of the city.  Purportedly, the Gazing Sector was originally built for its pristine views of stellar bodies, but was quickly abandoned by most once the smog of industry settled in.  The citizens that you do see as you enter here are the downtrodden and out-of-luck people that can no longer afford to live anywhere else on Thurinag, or get a berth on an out-going starship.
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The party must now attempt to find the location of the supposed Sanguine Raider activity here in the Gazing Sector.  The Raiders have done a fairly decent job hiding their tracks, however discussion on messageboards with residents putting pieces of sighting together combined with a slackening operational security as they moved their operations from the Community Center has left a trail for the PCs to discover that the Community Center used to be one of their hideouts. Each PC can make one of the following skills checks: Computers (checking local forums and message boards), Diplomacy (to gather information), or a relevant Profession. The DC for these checks will be 18 (DC 21 in Subtier 3-4). If the party succeeds on at least two of these checks (one in a four-player party) within 1d4 hours, the party learns that a person living in the Sector used to be a member of the Sanguine Raiders, and has really never left the Gazing Sector since arriving on Thurinag. If the party fails this check it takes them 3d4 hours to learn about the Raider.

When the party goes to the address they found, they discover a large tenement building.  The door they find is yellow and brown with whatever is in the air. When the PCs knock read or paraphrase the following
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________When the door crack open, a  face pokes her head out of the door, and she roughly says “What do you want?”. As she speaks, you see the blood vessels in her neck pulsate as they push blood throughout her body
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Answering the door is Helena, a former Hemeotheurge of the Sanguin Raiders. She barely got of the Sanguine Raiders with all of her body parts and mind intact and she intends to keep it that way for the rest of her life. The each PCs can attempt a Bluff, Diplomacy or Intimidate check to convince Helena to talk to them for anything longer than a simple exchange. These checks will be DC 18 (21 for Tier 3-4).  ). If the party succeeds on at least two of these checks (one in a four-player party) she is willing ot give the party the following information:

Where did the Sanguine Raiders used to hide out around here?: “That place? Big honchos thought turning a Community Center into our hideout was ironic, I called it dumb since kids used to wonder in there all the time. 

Why is your blood visibly pulsating?: “Don’t you know how the Sanguine Raiders got their moniker? The boss, Iovita, found some ancient tablets that taught her, then us how to use our blood to power magic.

Blood magic? What does that do? “We can do normal magics, like most people harnessing the Art, but sometimes we can call on our blood to enhance and empower the work that we are doing.”

Is it evil? “Not inherently, no.  I got out before the power started really calling to me though.  Some of the power that the blood can provide makes people do some really terrible things.” 

If the PCs fail to convince Helena to speak to them, through further investigation (not requiring a check) they discover that the Community Center is rumored to have been the Raider’s hideout. This additional investigation takes 3d4 hours. 

Development: In Tier 1-2, if the party fails either set of skill challenges increase the number of khefaks in Encounter B by 1.  In Tier 3-4, if the party only fails one of the skills challenges, increase the number of khefaks in Encounter B by 1. If the party fails both skill challenges, increase the number of khefaks in Encounter B by 2.

Inside the Hideout

When the party nears the Community Center, read or paraphrase the following:
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What was once obviously supposed to be a place of gathering, recreation, and comfort has fallen into complete disrepair.  The windows are boarded up with some metal slabs welded onto a few of them. The fountain in front has gone stagnant, and by the slime covered holes on the ground, what was once supposed to be a splash pad has begun creating its own miniature ecosystem of mold and fungus.
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After the party explores the exterior of the community center, there is only one obvious entrance, a side door that has not been welded shut. Unfortunately for the party, although the Sanguine Raiders no longer actively use this safehouse, it has been warded against intrusion.  The below trap can be bypassed if somebody has a Sanguine Raider Talisman [WRITER NOTE: Unless played Quest 3 or 5 first, this will not be possible for the players].  This trap is triggered by anybody attempting to force open or unlock the door. 

Tier 1-2
Sonic Boom Trap     CR 1
Type magical; Perception 21;Disable Mysticism 16 (carefully erase etching)
Trigger touch Reset hourly
Effect sonic blast (3d6 So); DC 12 Reflex half;alerts kefhaks alerts in Encounter B

Tier 3-4
Sonic Boom Trap   CR3
Type magical; Perception 24;Disable Mysticism 19 (carefully erase etching)
Trigger touch Reset hourly
Effect sonic blast (4d6 So); DC 12 Reflex half;alerts khefak and robots in Encounter B

Development:Whether the door is blasted open by the trap or the PCs are able to quality open the door, it opens into a wide entryway, as described below

Encounter B

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________This was the entryway to the Community Center at one point.  Now there is little more than detritus and debris scattered all over the place.  In a couple of corners are even a pair of what look like security robots. Throughout the room though are crab-like arthropods gnawing on what may have once been metal desks and tables in this room.
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[[Scaling Encounter B
Tier 1-2: The Khefaks have overfed and are now all sickened
Tier 3-4: Remove 1 Khefak, the Observer-class Security robots are off-target due to not being properly shut down previously]]

Creatures: A single Khefak burrowed its way into the Community Center a little over a week ago, and has been reproducing ever since. They have not made it to the Observer-class Security robots yet, but will likely consume them in the next day or say.  In Tier 1-2, the robots lights flight at the beginning of combat but then spark fly and their lights fade to darkness. In Tier 3-4 the robots activate. 

Subtier 1-2

Khefak (3 or 4) CR 1/3

Appendix 1, Encounter B

Subtier 3-4

Khefak (5 or 7) CR 1/3

Appendix 2, Encounter B 

Observer-class Security Robot (2) CR 1

Appendix 2, Encounter B

Development: Once the Khefaks, and possibly robots are defeated, an easy search of the entryway they discover a pale-pink crystalline device with some security.  Upon closer inspection it appears to be a hybrid datapad that is partially powered by a user’s own blood.  The hemo-datapad does not need any additional blood at this time. It will take a DC 18 (21 in Tier 3-4) Mysticism or Engineering check to turn on the hemo-datapad. After the PCs power it up the first time, it will need more blood (1 HP provides 10 charges) to continue working as a tier 1 datapad. The PCs can continue attempting to turn on the hemo-datapad as long as they have HP.

Quest Conclusion:

 After activating the hemo-datapad, the party quickly discovers that this abandoned community center has been mothballed by the Sanguine Raiders, but it does contain other encrypted information that after some time, might reveal the location of the rest of the Sanguine Raiders.

Appendix 1: Subtier 1-2 Encounter

Encounter B: Inside the Hideout

Khefak CR ⅓ (3 or 4)
N Small vermin
Init +1; Senses blindsense (vibration) 30 ft., darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +3
Defense
HP 6
EAC 10; KAC 12
Fort +3; Ref +1; Will +0
Immunities radiation
Offense
Speed 20 ft., burrow 5 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee claw +4 (1d6 S)
Offensive Abilities break objects
Statistics
STR +0; DEX +1; CON +3; INT —; WIS +0; CHA -3
Other Abilities consume objects, mindless
Ecology
Environment any (Akiton)
Organization solitary, pair, colony (3–9), or infestation (10–40)
Special Abilities
Break Objects (Ex) When attacking an object, a khefak treats that object’s hardness as if it were 10 lower.

Consume Objects (Ex) A khefak can eat objects with hardness 10 or lower. A khefak deals 1 damage to an object it’s consuming per minute. A khefak is sated and stops feeding on a given day after dealing 50 damage this way.

Appendix 2: Subtier 3-4

Encounter B: Inside the Hideout

Khefak CR ⅓ (5 or 7)
N Small vermin
Init +1; Senses blindsense (vibration) 30 ft., darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +3
Defense
HP 6
EAC 10; KAC 12
Fort +3; Ref +1; Will +0
Immunities radiation
Offense
Speed 20 ft., burrow 5 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee claw +4 (1d6 S)
Offensive Abilities break objects
Statistics
STR +0; DEX +1; CON +3; INT —; WIS +0; CHA -3
Other Abilities consume objects, mindless
Ecology
Environment any (Akiton)
Organization solitary, pair, colony (3–9), or infestation (10–40)
Special Abilities
Break Objects (Ex) When attacking an object, a khefak treats that object’s hardness as if it were 10 lower.

Consume Objects (Ex) A khefak can eat objects with hardness 10 or lower. A khefak deals 1 damage to an object it’s consuming per minute. A khefak is sated and stops feeding on a given day after dealing 50 damage this way.


Observer-Class Security Robot CR 1 (2)
N Small construct (technological)
Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +5
Defense
HP 17
EAC 14; KAC 15
Fort +1; Ref +1; Will -1
Defensive Abilities exigency, integrated weapons; Immunities construct immunities
Weaknesses vulnerable to critical hits, vulnerable to electricity
Offense
Speed 30 ft., fly 30 ft. (Ex, average)
Melee slam +6 (1d6+3 B)
Ranged integrated pulsecaster pistol +9 (1d4+1 E nonlethal), or stickybomb grenade I +9 (explode [10 ft., entangled 2d4 rounds, DC 10])
Statistics
STR +2; DEX +4; CON —; INT +1; WIS +0; CHA +0
Skills Acrobatics +10, Athletics +5, Computers +5
Languages Common
Other Abilities unliving
Gear pulsecaster pistol with 2 batteries (20 charges each), stickybomb grenades I (2)
Ecology
Environment any urban
Organization solitary or fleet (2–5)
Special Abilities
Exigency (Ex) An observer-class security robot can expend a large store of energy to temporarily increase its processing power and attempt to avoid an attack. Once per day, it can reroll a failed Reflex saving throw with a +10 circumstance bonus.

Integrated Weapons (Ex) A security robot’s weapons are integrated into its frame and can’t be disarmed.

Blog Conclusion

Holy cow! Stat-blocks are word count eaters! The khefak alone are 148 words, and that is for a CR 1/3 creature, albeit slightly complicated with how it interacts with objects. On the topic of word count, I took a look at the Quest that I based the structure of this quest on [Starfinder Society Scenario 1-16: Dreaming of the Future, Megaplex by Sasha Lindly Hall] is about 2300 words. Really though, I think I got too caught up in the word count this time around.  I went so far as to estimate how long each of my sections should be word-wise and it got in the way of my creativity and made me much more worried that my estimations were about 700 words under my goal.  I am sure there is a nice middle ground between writing freely, ending up overwriting by a ton and being so concerned about word count that it paralyzes the actual creation process.  I hope that I’ll find that balance eventually!

Writing Quest #2, there is a basic thing that I almost forgot in the final product, but did mention a little bit in my outline. The [Jumping In] sidebar is important in a Quest series to give GMs assistance in case they are not running the scenario sin sequential order, or a player joins part way if the Quest series was billed as a 1/hour slot instead of a full 4-5 hour slot.  As I was writing this particular quest though, I kept coming up with ideas, not for this quest but for the later Quests. I have had to spend a chunk of my writing time jotting down ideas that I know I’ll want to revisit when I’m writing those quests.

In my outline for Quest #2, I discussed wanting to add a more fantastical or mystical element to the quest. I did first by making the trap magical and the communication device a hybrid item.  The other way that I have begun hinting at is the hemotheurgy that the Sanguine Raiders have discovered.  I’ll be going more into detail about this in my Quest #3 outline in 2 weeks!

Andrew Sturtevant

I have two bachelor degrees, one in Psychology, the other in Computer Science. I've been playing some version of D&D, Pathfinder or Starfinder since about 2000 when my Dad started teaching me. I've been GMing for most of that time as well. I am active in the Organized Play Foundation as a volunteer and organizer, along with volunteering to help my fellow military spouses as a Key Spouse.

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