There are times when you’re ready to sit down and turn thoughts in your head to words in the text editor. I’ve had a few of those times over the past few weeks. Unfortunately, it was never really writing this quest. It isn’t that I’m not excited to tell this story, its that I got so excited about different stories that I want to tell as well. I don’t remember who I heard it from, but this is one of those moments that I have to work really hard to focus on the thing with a deadline and try to convert the energy I have for these other projects into a great quest for all of you to use in your own games!
I’m also trying my hand at additional related things to adventure building. I’ve procured some DungeonDraft and am learning how to use that program to build some custom maps using a variety of different art assets. You’ll see what is probably my 3rd creation ever using that program, with the first two being outdoor scenes not really requiring walls or anything. Some of the rooms are sparse, as you’ll see, as I’m still trying to determine exactly what ascetic I’m going for. I’ve also discovered that there is about a bajillion great assets for Fantasy maps, but fairly slime pickings for sci-fi/cyberpunk themed assets. I’m almost continuously on a hunt for more sci-fi assets that I can potentially get a commercial license for in the future (Everything I put up here right now is find under most Community Use type licenses, but to keep myself safe for the future, I do try to also have a commercial license option at least available for the future).
The Blood that Boils – Quest #3 Title
In beneath one of the early mines, turned refinery on Thuringag, lays the genesis of the Sanguine Raiders. This industrial area was originally one of the first mines for the colony, but as richer veins were discovered just a little further out, this mine turned into a mid-way point to smelt and refine the ore and minerals. That is not to say that the mining stopped altogether at the Refinery, it was just highly diminished and used more as a training ground for new miners and mining engineers. During one of these excavations, Iovita’s class was demonstrating various mining techniques that had learned over the past semester. One of her students yelled out and informed her that they had found an as-of-yet unexplored chamber. Inside of this chamber there were crystals growing all throughout, with what appeared to be a viscous fluid within. These strange crystals were not all that was in the chamber though, there were remains of what was once a library. As Iovita and a few of her students walked past the crystals, the crystals reacted to the people. Iovita felt power calling to her, not just in her head, but through her veins. With the blood quickening through her, Iovita quickly realized the potential of power these crystals might have. While her students were gawking throughout the chamber, Iovita orchestrated a cave-in on the route back that she believes killed all but herself, she explained the accident as a student’s disastrous mishap. The Thuringag Council decided that training simulators would be sufficient for training, leaving the mine under the refinery all but abandoned. This provided Iovita plenty of space to begin studying the weird crystals herself. They seemed to contain blood of the people that once lived her, being used as a power source for all sorts of things by the original inhabitants of Thuringag. As Iovita was beginning to integrate these crystals into some ships, and building the Sanguine Raiders, Hiran arrived offering his assistance in harnessing these new found powers. It was in a private meeting with Iovita that Hiran showed his true nature, and murdered Iovita, exsanguinating her blood onto a growing cluster of Blood Crystals.
Cosmic Captain Farasa contacts the PCs, letting them know that while they have permission from the Thuringag Council to apprehend the leader of the Sanguine Raiders in the Refinery, the Council is unable to stop the operation of the Refinery. They do not want to tip their hand to the Raiders that their front has been discovered. The council also asks to avoid a direct confrontation with the Refinery’s guards, as many of them are legitimate guards protecting the facility from the local fauna. With the hideout located, the PCs travel to the Refinery and find that it is in fact heavily guarded and to respect the Thuringag Council’s wishes, they must sneak past the guards to begin searching for this supposed underground complex. Once they are inside of the Refinery complex, they will begin this search in earnest. This Refinery being run by the Sanguine Raiders now, is not in the shape it once was, many of the pipes are faulty now and beginning to rust away, leaking out dangerous contact poisons. After all of this, the party finds the underground complex, what may be ruins, but also an underground hanger complex that has just finished opening up as they arrive. When the party tries to get near the hanger a group of Raiders steps in their way as a blood red ship blasts into the sky!
[[SIDEBARD: Jumping In
If your PCs have not played the previous two parts, have Farasa inform them that the Cosmic Combiners have had a busy time so far in Thuringag. First their meeting was interrupted by the Sanguine Raiders. After searching the Gazing Sector, agents were able to secure an old Sanguine Raider safehouse and discover that this Refinery is indeed a front for the Raiders.
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 ping.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________“Ah good! You haven’t left Thuringag yet! With the information just discovered late yesterday, the Thuringag Council has given the Cosmic Combine the constabulary authority investigate the Refinery for Sanguine Raider activity.” He raises what would be his eyebrow in a human as his eyes are scanning his datapad. “Oh, interesting, the Thuringag Council would appreciate it if you did not just waltz your way into the Refinery. They would like you to investigate this supposed underground complex without raising much a fuss! The guards in the area are legitimate guards of the facility, protecting it from the dangerous indigenous fauna. You’ll need to sneak your way into the Refinery complex, and then see if there is anything important beneath it. Doing all of this without getting noticed by the guards!” Chuckling a little bit to himself, Farasa continues “If that wasn’t enough though, if you do find something down there, they kindly request that you go down there and see whats what.” Farasa finishes with exacerbation in his voice, “I sure hope all this extra work gives us the leverage we need to get some substantial research done Thuringag! I like helping folks out, but the Combiners are not security forces! Do you have any questions for me?
Possible questions and their answers appear below.
Why doesn’t the Council evacuate the Refinery? “For the same reason they don’t want you just walking up. They’re afraid it would tip off the Raiders that we are aware of the importance of the Refinery in their operations. ”
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.
Sneaking Through to the Heart
The PCs approach the Refinery indirectly, allowing them a chance to enter the refinery unnoticed. It doesn’t take the PCs long to begin noticing patterns in the guards movements. These guards are watching out for the creatures of the planet, not for people attempting to sneak into an almost defunct refinery.
Sneaking Phases: The process of reaching and entering the underground complex requires a number of sequential steps by the party. During each step, each PC can either attempt one of the skill checks listed for that phase, or attempt to aid another for another PC’s skill check. For each skill check that the PCs succeed at, they increase their total number of successes by one. Multiple PCs succeeding at the same type of check do not increase this total. These successes represent how effectively the PCs avoid the guards and navigate themselves safely down into the underground complex and hangar, with their total number of successes influencing the threats they must overcome in this quest’s final encounter. A GM should portray the PC’s infiltration as being narrowly successful regardless of their check results, with the final effort stepping out to intercept at the last moment as well. All DCs for this portion of the quest are set at DC 18 (Tier 3-4, 21).
Outer Guards: The PCs must sneak past the guards stationed outside of the Refinery grounds. After some observation, the PCs notice workers coming and going from the Refinery. They are typically stopped by the guards, asking for their work ID on their comm unit. PCs can try to just sneak past with a Stealth check, create a compelling laborer outfit with Disguise, or wait to find the perfect gap between guards with Perception.
Navigating the Refinery Maze: This unfamiliar refinery is all but a maze to the unfamiliar with large pipes blocking more obvious routes to primary control stations. The PCs can try to ask some laborers for directions with Diplomacy, intuit the way with Survival, based on previously encountered Thuringag architecture make some educated guesses with Society.
Finding the Location of the Hangout: The PCs have made it to a primary server cluster, they must now quickly comb through the information about what is beneath the Refinery to determine the best route down. They can optimize their search algorithms with Computers, realize that some of the information they’ve come across is similar in structure to a flight hanger with Piloting, sort out the bureaucratic chafe with Sense Motive.
Quickest Route, Unsafe Conditions: Since time was of the essence, the PCs could not take the time to balance safety of their route with the directness of the route. Many of the pipes and other bits of infrastructure in this part of the Refinery are rusting away and releasing dangerous gases, some dangerous even upon contact. They can patch these up with Engineering, quickly treat any wounds with Medicine, or notice the weak points before approaching them with Physical Science
Development: The PCs are detected at some point, likely when accessing the computer system, and Hiran is able to instigate their escape plan. In their rush the PCs might have gotten tired or exposed to toxic chemicals. Determined by the number of successes they earned, the repercussions are as follows:
8 or More Success: The PCs take no damage, they arrive healthy and hale
5-7 Successes: The PCs take 1d4 (3d4, Tier 3-4) acid damage
2-4 Successes: The PCs take 1d4 (3d4, Tier 3-4) acid damage and are fatigued
0-1 Successes: The PCs take 1d6 (3d6, Tier 3-4) acid damage are are fatigued
When the PCs arrive at the hangar, read or paraphrase the following:
As you approach a blood coated door, it slides open. Beyond is a large crystalline cluster with something sloshing inside. Beyond that though, there are two small stellar skiffs on standby, as a larger craft behind them has its thrusters warming up. A group of people step in between you and the ship, with the one in the middle calling out “You’re already to late interlopers! Iovita is about to take off, and we’re here to ensure that you don’t stop her!” At the end of that declaration, a woman wearing deep red robes glides to the top of the boarding ramp, glares at you all, and boards the ship. As the ramp begins to raise, the three Sanguine Raiders in front of you dash to positions of cover!
[[Scaling Encounter C
All Tiers: The miners were rushed here for defense, they are all fatigued]]
Creatures: There are three to four combatants in this encounter. They start the encounter in a half-arc around the entrance to the hangar bay. Once combat starts the Sanguine Lieutenant moves for cover, while the Miners split between rushing with their pulse gauntlets or using their stickybomb to slow down opponents.
Sanguine Miner (2) CR 1
Appendix 1, Encounter C
Hemotheurge Lieutenant CR 3
Appendix 1, Encounter C
Sanguine Miner (3) CR 1
Appendix 2, Encounter C
Hemotheurge Lieutenant CR 4
Appendix 2, Encounter C
Once the Hemotheurge Lieutenant and Miners are defeated, the PCs will realize that the leader has escaped! They are quickly contacted by the Thuringag Council directly, requesting that they chase after the fleeing ship immediately. Luckily, there are two ships standing-by in this hangar!
Appendix 1: Subtier 1-2 Encounter C
Defensive abilities blood hacks (Flow of Concentration),
Technomancer Spells Known (CL 3rd; ranged +7)
Appendix 2: Subtier 3-4 Encounter C
Fort +3; Ref +3; Will +7
Technomancer Spells Known (CL 4th; ranged +8)
2nd (3/day) – caustic conversion, holographic image (level 2) (DC 17)
1st (6/day) – life bubble (DC 16), magic missile, overheat (DC 16)
0 (at will) – detect magic, mending (DC 15)
tactics details here e.g. Before Combat, During combat, Morale
Str +0; Dex +3; Con +0; Int +5; Wis +1; Cha +0
Skills Athletics +10, Computers +15, Engineering +15, Mysticism +15, Physical Science +15, Survival +10
Gear defrex hide, tactical switchblade, thunderstrike sonic pistol
One of the things about writing these over the span of a month, means that I typically have to refer back to the previous quests to do my best at keeping my story cohesive, even though I’m presenting it in a quest format. During one of these look backs, I realized I had made Iovita an Operative. While ultimately not important mechanically, since Iovita is already dead by the start of this adventure, I realize now a developer might go back and change that to being a Hemotheurge instead of Operative.
One of the things I completely neglected in my time management of this quest was building the stat blocks for the combat encounter portion of this quest. While I had broad-stroke ideas about what I wanted their roles to be in combat, I had not considered what mechanically it would boil down to. I know that I can put together three custom statblocks, as shown previously in the Rakshasa series, but that process isn’t necessarily the fastest or most efficient. So, I turned to the internet and found a really interesting tool in sfrpgtools. This handy tool takes the majority of the math work out of my hands, and let me focus on the Hemotheurge Lieutenant’s special ability instead!
While I have a hemotheurge NPC here, I do plan on fleshing this out into an archetype at the end of this series as a sort of addendum to the Quest line. I like to think of it similar to the Adventure Toolbox at the end of Pathfinder 2nd Edition Adventure Paths. I can afford to wait on fleshing out a playable archetype because it is unlikely a PC will level up in the middle of this quest series and want to take any hemotheurge options. On the other end of that “wait” spectrum are the starships that I will need for Quest #4. With that in mind, my next installment, instead of being the outline for Quest #4, will instead be my walkthrough of creating at least 1 Starship utilizing the steps presented in the Starfinder Core Rulebook pg. 293-294 and the Design Budget in the recently released Starship Operations Manual.
Banner Credit: Mykola Holyutyak/Shutterfly
Map Made with Dugneondraft – https://dungeondraft.net/
Map Made with Assets by 2-Minute Tabletop – https://2minutetabletop.com/
Map Made with Assets by Nexoness – https://www.cartographyassets.com/assets/victoria.501/
Statblocks Made with Assistance by https://sfrpgtools.com/