Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Scattered on Centaurus VII


Art by me... sorry, not as talented as +Carina W.!


Last summer I wrote a space-based, Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure called Centigoats of Centaurus VII.  The adventure was a silly, campy, over-the-top mess featuring demonic goat aliens created by a time and space warping, Sezrekan-tainted, goat dragon... named Sezregoat.  I ran the adventure at Gen Con 2016 and the entire experience was a riot.

You can go check out, print, and run the original Centigoats of Centaurus VII right here.  

Last week during the Steam Winter Sale I picked up Alien Isolation for the PC, and scared the crap out of myself for several nights straight.  I wanted to try and inject this spirit into a Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure, and then I remembered the Centigoats.  I believe the concept and game mechanics featured in the original adventure would feel right at home in a more serious game... perhaps with less goat-theming.  

So I set out to reskin Centigoats of Centaurus VII into something appealing to the space-horror fans.  I now bring you...

... Scattered on Centaurus VII!

Fair warning!  

If you've read the original adventure there isn't much changed.  I've removed the goats and replaced them with a more traditional, evil, and scary demon-alien.  There's also a slightly modified mechanic for what I'm calling a Scattered Funnel.  We tried something similar at Gen Con 2016, and it seemed to work, so it's back.  

As always, if you end up running this adventure with your own group, please let me know!

Scattered on Centaurus VII


Contestants of a futuristic game show must fight to survive and escape the dreaded jungle planet Centaurus VII while being hunted by demon-aliens, twisted by hell itself.  

Inspirations


Pitch Black certainly comes to mind in this adventure, since it features crash survivors trying to flee a cursed world.  I mentioned Alien: Isolation, but anything from the Alien or Predator series could count as inspiration for this adventure.  Connections to the TV show Survivor are also obvious.  

Necessary Materials


Before embarking on this grand voyage to a cursed jungle world, you may want to check out a few other resources.  

Miska Fredman's Patreon Page - The snapshot of the shuttle crash map came directly from +Miska Fredman, and is shared on this page with his permission.  That said, if you become one of Miska's patrons, you can access all kinds of phenomenal maps.  I'm a proud patron, and the Crash Site series comes with multiple maps: black and white, color, nighttime, and an adventure seed.  

Crawling Under a Broken Moon Issue 2 - The mutation canisters found in this adventure cause PC's to develop strange and sometimes terrifying powers.  For the purposes of this adventure, I'd recommend using the Base Mutation Table found in the CUaBM Mutant class in this particular zine issue.  

Space Dungeon Occupations - Created and compiled by +Noah Stevens, this list is PHENOMENAL and fits the tone and feel of this adventure perfectly.  While you can certainly throw any 0-level characters into this adventure, I highly recommend going the full sci-fi route.  You can even choose to use the 0-level generator on the Purple Sorcerer's site.  Just select "Space Dungeon (Stevens)" for "Occupation Source."  



The Scattered Funnel


The name of this adventure comes from a modified 0-level funnel that I'm dubbing a "Scattered Funnel."  We first played Centigoats of Centaurus VII and rather than giving every player a handful of 0-level characters I only gave them one a piece.  As they died, they got to draw new characters, and along the way they could pick up additional NPC's who had been scattered around the crash site.  Since they didn't have any "fodder" characters to start, everyone began the game very protective.

Here are the rules for a Scattered Funnel

  • Each player only begins with one 0-level character.
  • New 0-level characters can be acquired during play.  These are drawn randomly and then added to a central Pool of character for players to share.  
  • Any time a new PC can be gained for the Pool it will be noted in the adventure.
  • Any player can swap out for one of the Pooled characters at any time.  Players should keep track of any personalities or backstories created by the original player.
  • If a PC dies and the Pool is empty, that player must sit out until the Pool is replenished.
  • If all PC's die the adventure is lost.

Adventure Background


Scattered on Centaurus VII is a 0-level funnel for 12-18 PC's.  Alternatively, this could be played with 4-6 1st level DCC PC's, with a whole lot of re-skinning given the "sci-fi" feel.  If you are using either Crawling Under a Broken Moon or Crawljammer as a campaign setting, you can probably make this fit fairly easily...  

It is the year 2250, and the player characters (PC's) are participants in an incredibly popular reality holo-show called Offworlders.  After nearly two-hundred and thirty-three years since the decline of the reality TV show, some rich producers thought to resurrect the genre so popular in the late 20th and early 21st century.  Offworlders drops contestants off on remote, alien worlds, to survive for thirty days.  

Of course there are some safety precautions on the Offworlders holo-show.  Producers make sure that the participants are protected by a great electric fence, creating a secure perimeter and enclave.  The participants may have to deal with nuisance creatures, such as bugs, worms, and slimes, but the most dangerous alien life forms are safely kept at bay.  

This season's episode of Offworlders takes place on Centaurus VII.  A hot jungle world roughly the size of Venus, Centaurus VII was viewed by producers as being quite uncomfortable (and therefore good for holo viewers), but not particularly dangerous so long as the Goren were removed from the holo-show's protective enclave.  The producers know nothing of the Grim Stalker threat.    

Unfortunately, this season's holo-show is about to get off to a rocky start.

Image courtesy of +Miska Fredman


Adventure Outline


Crash! - The adventure begins with a great crash, as the PC's are ejected from their cryopods onto the floor.  It should be revealed that they are all contestants on Offworlders, and that they are expecting to land at a drop zone within a somewhat safe, definitely not mortally dangerous, jungle enclave.  But as the PC's get their bearings, they will notice that their shuttle is a wreck, with pieces of the ship on fire, exposed wires sending sparks, and smoke filling the craft.  

How the shuttle crashed is up to the judge.  Maybe it was just a bad day for the pilot, or perhaps poor weather forced the craft down.  

Exploring the Shuttle - Surviving this adventure will require that the 0-level characters salvage as much as possible from the crashed shuttle.  Give the players enough detail about the damaged shuttle that they feel risk of staying inside, but also give them time to explore.  There are Goren waiting outside, and they should start to enter the shuttle's broken frame at some point.  
  • Cryopod Room:  This is the starting point for the adventure.  A semi-circle of six pods, each capable of holding 2-3 participants.  Whatever the 0-level characters have as starting equipment is found in small footlockers kept at the base of each cryopod.  Each cryopod has its own battery unit, and can be reactivated with an Intelligence check (DC 15).  Someone placed inside the pod can be kept "on ice" for 3d6 months before the battery runs out.  
    • Pool:  There are an additional 1d4 potential PC's located in the Cryopods.  After determining the number, a DC 8 Intelligence can free each sleeper.  A failed check kills the pod occupant as they freeze solid and shatter.  
  • Med Lab:  The Med Lab is directly adjacent to the Cryopod Room.  Most of the supplies have been strewn about, but the PC's can recover 2 medkits (heals 1d4 hp), 1 stim-jim (boosts Strength by 4 for 2 hours before dropping it by 8 for 4 hours), and 2 gallons of fresh water.  There are also 3 Mutation Canisters designed to help survivors adapt to different worlds.  Unfortunately they don't work well!  PC's who open a canister are exposed to enough mutagens that they suffer a mutation as per the Base Mutation Table found in the Crawling Under a Broken Moon Mutant class.  Alternatively, you could come up with your own mutation, perhaps raising an attribute at the expense of another, or just making cosmetic changes.  Each Mutation Canister has only one use.  
  • Command Deck:  PC's approaching the command deck of the crashed shuttle can feel the heat coming off the door.  The fire burning on the Command Deck has ruined all electronics and controls.  Attempting to enter the deck causes 2d8 damage per round to a PC, and allows the fire to spread to the next chamber.
  • Airlock:  2 EVA suits can be found in the Airlock.  Although designed for space travel, the suits provide some additional protection (+4 AC, Fumble Die 1d8), and render the wearer practically immune to background radiation damage.  Given the hot jungle temperature, however, wearing the suit for longer than an hour requires a Fortitude save (DC 10) for each half-hour of use.  Should a PC fail the save, they suffer 1d4 points of Stamina damage.  If this forces their HP below 1, they die from heat exhaustion.  This damage can be recovered at a rate of 1 per hour, or 1 per minute for every gallon of water used to cool down.  
  • Port Drive Core: The port drive core compartment is stable, but shut down.  Attempting to power up the drive core is impossible due to the condition on the Command Deck.  There is a toolkit in this room that may come in handy later, however.  
  • Cargo Bay: The cargo bay is directly exposed to the exterior of the crash site, and most of the contents are damaged.  When the Goren decide to enter the shuttle, it will be through this breach.  But searching the chamber the PC's can salvage the following: 2 Pulse Rifles, 11 chips of Pulse Rifle ammo, 1 Flamethrower, 5 chips of Flamethrower ammo, 20' of useful rope, a crowbar, 2 flashlights, 5 MRE's (meals ready to eat), a professional quality video recording rig, 1 small tent, 2 metal crutches, and a single foam mattress.   

The Crash Site - The actual crash site is fairly dangerous.  As the PC's start to search the Cargo Bay, give them indications that "something" is coming.  Alternatively, if the PC's are exploring every nook and cranny of the crashed shuttle, and are unfazed by the flames and sparks, send in the Goren.
  • Goren:  5 Gorenenter the cargo bay swiftly, and with extreme prejudice towards the Earthlings.  
  • Cargo Bay Fragment:  South of the main crash site the PC's come across another section of the shuttle.  This was part of the cargo bay, and searching the containers the PC's can find 2 more chips of Pulse Rifle ammo and a container of super-chunky peanut butter.  
    • Pool:  A single wounded passenger of the crashed vessel lay near the Cargo Bay Fragment.  Using a medkit revives the passenger, adding them to the PC Pool.

C.H.O.P.A. #1 - The Courtesy Helium Operated Passenger Assent vehicle is designed to give contestants a quick and easy escape from the holo-show.  Up to six contestants can comfortably fit inside a CHOPA, as it automatically fills a great helium balloon and floats high into the atmosphere for retrieval.    

Unfortunately CHOPA #1 has been damaged, and is lacking a Helium Module.  It seems that several inquisitive Goren have found this module, and are playing with it off in the jungle nearby.  CHOPA #1 has a very clear "#1" stenciled on the side of the craft, leaving it open that there is a CHOPA #2 located somewhere.  A single Flamethrower (4 chips of ammo) is contained within a special housing on the outside of the CHOPA.
  • High Pitched Goren:  The PC's hear the high pitched cackling of two nearby Goren that have taken the Helium Module off of the CHOPA and are breathing the gas.  Unfortunately for the Goren, a Grim Stalker lurks!  If the PC's follow the sound, they discover the pair of creatures 100' to the east.
  • The First Grim Stalker:  This encounter should occur whether or not the PC's follow the Goren.  
    • If they do follow the confused chatter of the Goren, a lone Grim Stalker appears and quickly stings both Goren.  The brutish apes fall over and start to transform into Grim Stalkers.  The original Grim Stalker then burrows underground.  The transformation process takes 2d7 minutes, and should be described in detail as the Goren dissolve in high pitched screaming into a mass of bone, flesh and tears. If nothing is done to the pools of flesh, they reform into 2 Grim Stalkers that attack the party. 
    • If the PC's don't follow the Goren, they hear the chatter stop, and a few rounds later the Grim Stalker attacks the PC with the lowest Luck score with a stinging DNA injection.  It will then attempt to flee by burrowing under gound.    

The Jungle  - Any trip into the jungle itself should result in one of the following encounters.  For each hour exploring (perhaps searching for CHOPA #2), roll 1d8, and refer to following list.  If the PC's are not following some kind of path or trail, feel free to repeat these encounters, obviously keeping in mind previous actions.    
  1. Production Assistant:  Ejected from the shuttle during the crash, a production assistant was fortunate enough to be wearing a parachute.  Now they are stuck in a tree, about fifty feet off the ground.  A nest of Centaurian Hornets lurk just a few feet from the production assistant's face.  Centaurian hornets are a lot like regular hornets, except that they secrete acid.  If the nest is disturbed in any way, the hornets spend 1d3 minutes taking to the air before they begin to devour production assistant.  Should the PC's get in the hornets way (knocking down the nest), they must make Fortitude saving throws (DC 10) each round or take 1d3 damage.  Any use of fire or aerosol spray will cause the hornets to flee.  Bob is carrying a pair of MRE's (meals ready to eat), a full clip (6 chips) of Pulse Rifle ammo (but no rifle, he dropped it somewhere) and has several hundred feet of parachute cord.  If saved, the Production Assistant can be added to the players' Pool.  
  2. Guest Host:  The guest host of Offworlders is hiding in a cave, scared out of their mind after encountering an angry Goren.  Unfortunately for the guest host, there are more Goren in the cave.  The guest host will fire on anyone that approaches within 30' of the cave entrance unannounced.  Once the guest host is convinced to leave the small cave, a Goren will spring out, attempting to kill the host (draw a character from the 0-level stack to determine stats).  If the Guest Host is killed the Goren will then retreat back into the cave with the body.  The cave is 5' wide and 30' feet long, ending in a 20' by 20' chamber.  3 more Goren are hiding in the chamber (for a total of 4).  The guest host carries a Pulse Rifle with three chips of ammo (see weapon description.)  If saved, the Guest Host joins the Pool.  
  3. Grim Stalker Surprise:  The PC's come to a small ravine.  To get to the other side, the PC's must either climb down (50', only a DC 5 due to the branches and roots) and climb back up on the other side, or spend another hour traveling in either direction to get around the the obstacle (forcing another encounter.)  As the PC's climb down, take careful note of their order.  Choose the PC with the lowest Luck score.  Once they are at the bottom of the ravine, a Grim Stalker DNA Injector (with a +4 addtional bonus to attack) will strike that PC.  If this encounter is rolled again, either with the same ravine (possibly an extension) or another, 2 Grim Stalkers appear at the bottom of the ravine, completely bursting out of the ground and into combat.  Searching the ravine reveals all manners of sticks and debris that could potentially be used as clubs, torches, or rather large toothpicks.    
  4. Worm Pit:  The lead PC falls into a 10' deep pit and into a soupy mixture with the texture of bean dip.  Immediately the next round, something large and hungry begins nibbling at the PC's legs.  The worm attacks each round (Atk +1 melee 1d4 damage), until the PC is pulled out of the pit.  The edge of the pit should be approached with caution, as the ground is quite soft.  Any PC performing an action at the edge must make a Reflex save (DC 10) or tumble into the soupy mix.   
  5. Crashed Satellite: The PC's come across an irradiated pool of muck and slime, thirty feet across.  There is a faint green glow, and a crashed satellite rests nearby.  Radioactive fuel from the satellite has seeped into the pool.  Two Mutated Goren lay half-in and half-out of the pool, seemingly dead.  If approached, these aliens will rise up, revealing terrible mutations and growths, and attack the party.  PC's who approach within 5' of the satellite, or enter the pool itself, must make a Fortitude save (DC 15) or take 1d3 points of Stamina damage from the radiation.  Salvaging the crashed satellite yields a transmitter that could possibly be used to communicate with the production crew in orbit.   A second shuttle can land in the area within 1d14 hours. 
  6. Rain of Pain:  The weather takes a turn for the worse, and a heavy rain starts to fall.  The acid content of Centaurus VII's rain isn't deadly, but it is high enough to cause skin reactions and general anxiety.  Anyone exposed to the rain must make a Fortitude save (DC 8) each hour or suffer 1 point of Personality damage to reflect agitation.  The rain persists for 1d5 hours, possibly through multiple encounters.  The Personality damage heals at a rate of 1 point per hour spent under cover or after the rain ceases.  
  7. The Dimensional Monolith:  The PC's discover the original inter-dimensional monolith that allowed the Grim Stalkers to leave their own hellish world and come to Centaurus VII.  A simple, silver 10' cube, the monolith bears a carved seven pointed star on each side.  Judges are encouraged to use this monolith in any way that fits their play style.  Perhaps the monolith allows a pathway to an actual hellscape.  Perhaps someone who touches the monolith can contact the entity known as Sezrekan and attempt a Patron Bond.  Or maybe 1d4 additional Grim Stalkers arrive to attack the party. 
  8. Jettisoned Cryopods:  The PC's find 2d3 cryopods in the jungle.  Each one contains a potential PC for the Pool.  

C.H.O.P.A. #2 - There are several ways to find the second CHOPA.  If they climb to the top of a tree (DC 10), they will see smoke rising from the jungle, about 3 miles to the south of the crashed shuttle.  Given the thick foliage, this trek takes 3 hours (thus, 3 jungle encounters.)  They can also try to jury-rig a transmitter from the crashed shuttle, CHOPA 1, or the crashed satellite.  Allow any PC with a technical occupation to make this attempt (DC 15.)  Finally, allow the PC's to get to the CHOPA after 5 total hours wandering in the jungle.  
  • Surrounded in Veingrass:  Once the PC's arrive at CHOPA 2, they will notice that it is surrounded by a thin, red, spaghetti-like grass.  This is veingrass, and anyone who attempts to approach CHOPA 2 will find that the grass will crawl up their legs and try to leech their blood (Atk +0, 1d3 damage.)  Placing planks or other pieces of debris atop the grass prevents this effect.
  • Removing the Helium Module:  So long as the PC's have a toolkit, removing the Helium Module takes less than 10 minutes.  The pod is 50lbs, and long enough to be carried by two PC's.  Without the proper tools, the PC's must make a DC 20 Intelligence check to come up with an alternate means of removing the module.  Any roll of a 1 causes the module to break, filling the air with helium.  Good luck getting off of Centaurus VII now!
  • Trek Back:  By this point the PC's are probably fairly banged up from the trek to the pod.  Either roll one more time on the Jungle Encounter table, or pick something that you really want to throw at the party.  

Ascent - With the Helium Module in hand, and CHOPA 1 ready to depart, the PC's must fend off one last wave of Grim Stalkers, or flee during the battle.  The Helium Module takes 6 rounds to deploy, -1 round for every PC that does "something" to aid in the process.  Perhaps they are at the controls on the inside, or outside trying to help the balloon inflate.  Eventually the CHOPA's giant helium balloon rises up past the canopy, and the surviving contestants of Offworlders can "call for evac!"  
  • Grim Stalker Rush:  The final Grim Stalker rush consists of 5 creatures.  If your players are doing particularly well feel free to mutate them with dragonfly wings, and a flying speed of 30'.  
  

New Weapons


A common theme in sci-fi horror movies is a lack of resources and ammunition.  The two weapons featured below have very limited ammunition.  This should reflect a 0-level, untrained character pulling the trigger and unloading a half dozen bullets or more with each squeeze.  

To simulate the scarcity of ammunition for these special weapons, use poker chips as ammo counters.  Each time the weapon is used, make the player give back a chip.  If you want to be really cruel, whenever they fumble make them give an extra chip!  

Also, the first player at the table to strap their pulse rifle and flame thrower together "Ripley Style" gets a point of Luck.  

Pulse Rifle - Damage 1d12, Range 50/100/150, Ammo Capacity 6 chips.  Special:  Player may choose to spend 2 chips (instead of 1) to increase Action Die by +1d.   

Flame Thrower - Damage 1d6, Range 30' cone, Ammo Capacity 4 chips.  Special:  All creatures in the Flame Thrower's range must make a Reflex Save (DC 10) or take damage.  Player may choose to spend 2 chips (instead of 1) to increase the DC to 14.  

New Monsters


Goren- Similar to, but smaller than the Four-armed Ape-Men of other worlds, the Goren would've eventually evolved into civilized beings if their world hadn't become infested with Grim Stalkers.  Curious but deadly, Goren can use simple tools and implements to explore their world.  They perceive anything that isn't a member of their pack to be a threat, so it's best to keep them at a safe distance.  

Init +0; Atk slam +1 melee (1d6); AC 13; HD 1d8+1; MV 40' or climb 20'; Act 1d20 or 2d16 (crits on a "16"); Ref +1, Fort +2, Will -1; SP a Goren can perform an intimidating display of rage, requiring all opponents engaged in melee combat to make a Will save (DC 10) or disengage from combat for 1d3 rounds due to fear.

Mutated Goren - Essentially a regular Goren who came in contact with the radioactive satellite debris.  Now it looks more like a zombie.  

Init -2; Atk slam +0 melee (1d6 damage, +1 point of Stamina damage from Radiation); AC 12; HD 1d8+5; MV 20' or climb 10'; Act 1d24; Ref -2, Fort +4, Will -2

Grim Stalker - Grim Stalkers are not native to Centaurus VII.  These burrowing, centipede-like insects first arrived on the planet just thirty years ago, transported via an inter-dimensional gateway that led back to a world that would make Hell look like paradise.  Without natural predators, Grim Stalkers easily spread throughout Centaurus VII, always remaining just out of sight, safely in their tunnels.  It was for this reason that the producers of Offworlders had no idea what their contestants were truly in for.  

Grim Stalkers are fearsome creations.  They roam the jungles of Centaurus VII hunting for new prey as well as hosts for their offspring.  But the breeding rituals of the Grim Stalker are truly horrifying.  These twelve foot long creatures do not create offspring directly, but instead inject their own DNA model into their still-living prey via a long, stinger-like tail.  The victim's remaining cells, those that have not been consumed, are quickly transformed into a new Grim Stalker... and the line continues.  

One day, all of Centaurus VII will be dominated by Grim Stalkers

Init: +2; Atk bite +2 melee (1d8) or DNA injection +2 melee (special); AC 12; HD 2d8+2; MV 50'; Act 1d20; Ref +2, Fort +2, Will +0; SP organic opponents who are stung must make a Fortitude save (DC 12) or be transformed into a Grim Stalker in 2d7 minutes.  This process is terrifying to witness, and brutally painful to endure.  The victim slowly melts into a screaming and writhing puddle, only to reform into an insect-worm.  To make the process even more haunting, the victim is completely aware of what is happening until they take their first step as a Grim Stalker.