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Side Quest Saturday (Uralicans Uncut): Fix the Ship

With their ship grounded the PCs find themselves in somewhat of a fix. The magical engines are drained and there seems to be no way to power them back up (all the reagents to do so were irrevocably damaged in the interplanar transition). If the party Uralicans are Indifferent (or friendlier) they offer to help out the adventurers in exchange for any stories about Aventyr. After a quick examination of the engines, a plan is hatched—the Uralicans believe that the native psionic xyrx crystals that are plentiful here can be modified to power the party’s vessel. However, the crystal transformation will not be easy, and the PCs have to overcome a considerable obstacle to fix the ship.

A gate to the Plane of Ooze exists in a nearby asteroid. The oozes, puddings and jellies in that realm, infused with natural psionic energy, can be harvested to make new and exotic psionic-based wondrous items, including items that would help the Uralicans find home. They delved too greedily however, and the oozes began to fight back, staging an invasion through the portal. The two sides, evenly balanced, settled into a stalemate—until a great ooze approached the gateway. The enormous creature had two effects; it attracted many mundane oozes from the Uklonjen side of the gateway to join in the fight, but more devastatingly, it projected a psionic-damping aura that effectively neutralized the Uralicans’ power. Overwhelmed by the encroaching horde, the Uralicans pooled their most powerful rituals to seal off the gateway, preventing any living material from passing through either side. The great ooze remains, though, on the other side, prepared to neutralize trespassers.

In order to make the crystals usable, they need to be transported to the Plane of Ooze and returned. The travel to the plane and exposure to the psionic damping field should alter the crystals, allowing the natural arcane properties of the crystals to be accessed for powering the ship. The Uralicans have no way to transport the crystals, as their psionic powers cannot penetrate the gateway, but the PCs should have the means to do so. They offer to fly the party to the asteroid in one of their skiffs, where there are some access vents that provide a means of entry.

OozeCavernThe skiff pulls up to a small asteroid and hovers over a ventilation shaft leading to an underground cavern complex. Each chamber of the cavern complex has remnants of what looks to have been some kind of lab or alchemical equipment., all of which is now broken and corroded. The stone floor of the entire complex is worn smooth, as if a giant glacier travelled through it. Caverns 1-3 are populated by gelatinous sphere swarms [tomorrow’s Statblock Sunday -RT] that attack anyone that enters the cavern.

Cavern 4, the large central cavern, has a bowl shaped depression in the center filled with a shimmering liquid, leaving a 5-10 foot dry ledge around the edge. The liquid itself is acidic. Anyone entering it takes 1d6 acid damage per round. When the party travels about halfway across the cavern towards the rise that leads to cavern 5, an adult gelatinous sphere [also tomorrow! -RT] rises from the lake and rolls towards the party, choosing the strongest psionic target, or the PC who is closest to cavern 5 if there are no psionic powers in the party.

The back wall of cavern 5 is inset with a large, convex lens that shimmers in the ambient light that comes from the unfocused landscape behind it. As the party approaches, they encounter the sentient ooze haunt just in front of the lens.

The other side of the lens presents a horrifying sight. Whether it is a trick of the lens or not, the plants and ground that appear on the other side of the lens jiggle and melt, constantly reforming into approximately the same shape, constantly changing colors. New features appear and disappear out of the ground, including small mountains and canyons. The colors are like nothing you’ve seen, and those with darkvision can make out even more unsettling details as minute beads run down the plants like water, pooling on the ground and slithering towards the lens—it is here they must travel to transform the crystals.

Any living tissue that physically travels through the lens is disintegrated (as per the spell for 22d6 damage, or 5d6 with a DC 18 Fortitude Save) and rebuffed. Because of the mature gelatinous sphere’s negation field, there PCs must engineer a solution to physically penetrate the barrier to place the crystals in the plane. Any attempt at a method which employs magic or psionics fails due to the sphere’s aura.

A DC 30 Knowledge (planes) check reveals that the lens itself is actually a small part of a mature gelatinous sphere [again, tomorrow! -RT]. There is enough material in the caverns to jury rig about any device to accomplish this task. but spells and powers do not work, as the mature gelatinous sphere negates them the instant they breach the portal. Also, any attempt that physically penetrates the sphere (which blocks the other side of the gateway) awakens it and although it is unable to physically attack the party, it unleashes psionic powers through the portal (as it is immune to its own aura).

Once the party have transformed the xyrx crystals and returned to the caverns, the gateway shrinks and fully closes off after 1d4 rounds. Any remaining gelatinous spheres in the caverns are pulled into the gateway and disappear along with it. The Uralicans await near the entrance, and although mildly surprised, are happy to see the the party, and even happier when they find that their psionic-squashing nemesis has been removed, along with the gateway. The xyrx crystals do, in fact, work to power the ship, and the Uralicans keep the extras for study.


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Sidequest Saturday (Destiny Derailed): God Press


While Steamtown is being packed up, ready to move down the rails for its new site, Borys approaches the PCs for a final mission. After the recent hellion attack, several items have been possessed. One of these items, however, poses a major problem and has just come to light.

A printing press, worshipped by the goblins as a god, has been discovered hidden in an abandoned shed-turned-temple about 2 miles to the north of Steamtown. To further complicate matters, the goblin workers believe the press to be truly divine—and that it can foretell the future. In fact, the press has turned out to be the source of the prognosticating articles that have been circulated in the Steamtown Herald for the past few months.

The press has stopped working, and the goblins now think that their god press is dead, killed by the demons unleashed from the blast site—they aren’t going to go to work again anytime soon. In order to get them back to it, the laborers need to be convinced that their god still lives, or that the press was never a god entity. Borys offers a 10,000 gp reward to the PCs to handle this as they see fit; any outcome that gets the goblins working again is acceptable.

The shed is well-hidden at the end of a small box canyon and it takes about one and a half hours on foot to reach the shed due to the rough terrain. When the party arrives they are met with a curious sight—a dozen goblins are prostrating themselves before the tin-roofed wooden shed. The structure has a single, wood-slatted door that is half open, and the entire shabby building has been decorated with what appear to be allogotonium items, painted runes, and the occasional newspaper. The goblins are wailing—a DC 18 Spellcraft or Knowledge (religion) check reveals why: they are communally casting a spell to prevent possession in the area. This negates the inanimate possession power of the hellion revenants within 100 ft. of the chanting goblins, although it does not expel a revenant from a currently possessed item.

439px-Hornbook-RabanThe goblins, occupied with their ritual, do not hinder the party’s progress into the shed. It has a simple metal table that holds a printing press and makeshift wooden altars surround it—some have lit candles while others have small baubles and tributes, and a few even have some unrecognizable food items. Shortly after the party enters the shed, a single news sheet prints out. In bold letters, it says, “Help me! Destroy the sheets as they leave and let me retake control.”
A few rounds later sheets begin to print (four per round for five rounds). The sheets can be easily destroyed—anything that would destroy a normal sheet of paper destroys one of these. Each time a sheet is destroyed, 1d4+1 hellion revenants appear. At the end of 5 rounds,  it prints out one more sheet: a DC 20 Perception check reveals that this missive is different than the others. It simply says, “I’m free; prepare yourselves!”

One round after the last sheet emerges, the press starts shaking and smoking. A stream of ink shoots out of one end and begins to sculpt a 3-dimensional object that materializes as the Archivist. [In tomorrow’s stat block Sunday! -RT] The Archivist immediately attacks the nearest arcane spellcaster in the hopes that he can steal a spell to escape.

Once the Archivist is defeated or escapes (XP is awarded either way) the goblins stop their chanting and enter the shed to attend to the press. They thank the PCs for returning their god to them, and promise that they will go back to work. The press prints out a final page: “I will return and tend to my flock. The dangers that lie ahead can be managed by them, but if you see your name in print again, know that I am calling, and that I need you.” The press continues to steer the goblins in a manner that avoids waking demons.

IGoblin 12f the Archivist defeats the party, the doppix is ejected from the press as the Archivist takes back control. The goblins continue to worship the press as a god, but now the press directly manipulates the goblins into freeing more of his brethren (creating problems for PNE down the road).

If the PCs try to destroy the press, the 12 goblins defend it with their lives. The leader of the goblins begins the action by breaking a small metal item that unleashes 1d10 hellion revenants that  attempt to possess items that the adventurers carry, as the protective aura provided by the goblins is no longer in effect.
No matter what happens, the goblins return to work and the party receives their reward.

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Sidequest Saturday (Destiny Derailed): Labor Strike!

JC-ANGRYMOB-SMPreparations in Steamtown are in full force: one more mountain is all that remains before reaching the easier, flat terrain on the proposed route. In order to get through the last few miles however, demolitions teams have their blasting work cut out for them. Unfortunately a few papers have circulated this week declaring the blasting area as a goblin burial site. Up until now the workers have been misled, thinking that the tracks were going to circumvent the sacred ground instead of going straight through them—nobody has gone out of their way to change this misconception.

Now, as it becomes obvious that the tracks are going straight through the area, the goblins have stopped working and gone on labor strike. The normal bullying and coercion tactics have not worked; the workers are more afraid of divine retribution than any punishment that PNE can deliver. The goblins have set themselves up blocking much of the construction equipment, refusing to move until the path is changed. PNE has tried and failed to convince the laborers that the path actually does not go through the area—even though it does. Borys has sent in a squad of enforcers, prepared to assault the goblins should they hold up progress when the time comes to send up the blasting party. Even though it would delay them a bit, PNE can always bring in new goblins.

Borys and two enforcers wake the PCs up early in the morning two days before the blasting is scheduled to happen—he has an urgent request for the party.

“You see, my friends, we really are going through the goblin burial ground, but we decided to move it a mile north. A party went up three days ago to transport the remains, some of my most trusted men—they have not returned. I have another party ready to go, but they may need protection, no? I don’t think I need to tell you what would happen if this fails. I have no problem disposing of the trouble makers, but replacing them costs time and money. So, I think, you can see my predicament.”

If the PCs agree to help, they leave right away. Borys offers 2,000 gp worth of alligotonium [explained in full later this month! -MM] as a reward. The work crew (made up of six human fighter 2) joins the party near the track outside of Steamtown where a small, supply-laden hand cart awaits. It takes about 3 hours to reach the end of the tracks, and another hour on foot to reach the blast site.

As the party nears it, the terrain rises sharply, made up of several loose rocks and small boulders on the steep hillsides. PCs that make a DC 25 Perception check notice something sticking out of a large pile of dirt and rocks. If the party investigates they find a booted foot; clearing the dirt reveals the work party that had been sent out before, killed by a landslide. A DC 20 Heal check reveals that some of the wounds could not have been possibly made by the landslide, as if something large had bludgeoned them to death.

From here, the burial area is about 1/elemental-earthelemental-014 miles away. When the party gets about halfway there, the side of the mountain begins to shake as several rocks and boulders roll down the hill.

Boulder Avalanche CR 7
Type mechanical; Search/Perception DC 24; Disable Device DC 31
Trigger location; Reset none
Effect falling rocks (DC 22 Reflex Save or take 4d6 damage and be knocked prone, pinned under rock and dirt; DC 22 Strength or DC 22 Escape Artist check to escape); multiple targets (all targets within 30 ft.)

On the heels of the collapsing hillside, a huge earth elemental uses its earth glide ability to hide in the avalanche and try to surprise the party. Anyone that fails a DC 19 Perception check is surprised by the elemental as it emerges from the cloud of rocks and dirt.

Once the elemental is eliminated, the party finds a small shrine and a few graves; it takes approximately 4 hours to relocate everything.

When the burial site is successfully moved, the goblins end their labor strike after their foreman verifies that the path does not go through the sacred site. Otherwise, there is a 2 week delay as the protesting workers are killed or run off, and more are shipped in from the Samsara area (unaware of the sanctity of the site, though if the elemental is still there, it attacks the workers when they arrive).

The morning after returning to Steamtown, the Steamtown Herald is delivered to the PCs’ caboose. The headline reads, “A Scourge Descends on Pradjna as Blasts Open Up a Pit From Hell”


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Sidequest Saturday (Destiny Derailed): Rumors of our Deaths are Greatly Exaggerated!


If the adventurers found Gyrick’s Journal, they are likely curious as to why he had such an accurate picture of the party; investigating the matter requires heading to Steamtown in Pradja. If the PCs did not play through Tribal Troubles, some other hook can be concocted to get the party there—they could have heard of injustices against demi-humans or the presence of strange, valuable ore. There are even stories floating around that tell of ancient demons and magic!

From almost any approach, at some point the directions to get to Steamtown are the same—travel in this direction until you hit tracks, then turn west and follow the tracks to the end.

After the PCs follow the tracks for a while they run across a scene of carnage. It appears that a crater opened up underneath the tracks, causing them to collapse—a train has crashed in the crater. The engine, tender, and 2 boxcars are lying in the crater, wrecked amid the twisted metal of the rails. It appears that the boxcars have been looted as several crates lie about, all broken open and empty; a few remaining tins of food are all that is left of the cargo. Near the front of the train there are 2 dead gnomes, ostensibly its operators. They have been visibly transformed into some kind of undead, however—a DC 25 Heal or Sense Motive check reveals that this is only a strange after effect of how they died; they are ordinary dead gnomes.

At this point the PC’s are surprised by a babau wielding Droste’s aura spear.

Droste’s Aura Spear
Aura moderate  illusion (glamer); CL 9th
Slot none; Price 8,000 gp; Weight 9 lb.

This longspear trails wispy vapor as it slices through the air.
After a successful melee attack, the target is surrounded in an aura that leads others to believe they are an undead. Those that see the target must make a DC 17 Will save or treat the target as having the undead type ( a creature thus affected still heals from positive energy and does not gain any of the traits of an undead). A creature that makes this Will save is immune to the effects of Droste’s aura spear for 24 hours. The effect lasts until dispelled by a remove curse or dispel magic.

Requirements Craft Magic Weapon, detect undead; Cost 4,000 gp

Once the babau is defeated, a DC 20 Heal check performed on the corpse shows signs of frost burn, as if the demon had been previously frozen.

Near one of the gnomes is a slightly scorched copy of The Steamtown Herald, Steamtown’s very own newspaper. There are two articles of interest—the headlines of the paper read in big, bold letters, “Goblin Boxcar Explodes, Showering Steamtown with Rust Mites, Construction Halted!” On page 3 of the paper is another picture of the PCs that accompanies a short article entitled, “Laborers Repel Adventurers Returned from the Grave!” This time, they are depicted as zombies facing off against a crowd of goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs. The goblinoids are wielding sledgehammers, picks, and other construction equipment. The paper is scorched here, but what little can be made out suggests that the party have returned from the dead and were driven off by a brave band of railroad workers. The date of the paper is exactly one week from today.

orc_archer__jeff_wardWhen the PC’s arrive in Steamtown, about another half-day’s journey, they are greeted by a hastily armed band of orcs, goblins, and hobgoblins—just like in the picture—but they don’t immediately attack—they instead tell the adventurers to leave peacefully. If the party tries to negotiate, the crowd’s starting attitude towards the PCs is Hostile and requires a DC 22 Diplomacy check to change to Indifferent. If one of more of the PCs still has Droste’s aura, the DC of this check is +10, but should they show the spear and describe the babau encounter, the DC check is reduced by -5 instead. Once the crowd’s attitude is Indifferent, they reluctantly allow the adventurers to pass, although they maintain a wide berth. One of the orcs, in guttural Common, direct the adventurers towards the center of Steamtown, where they can deal with more of their kind.

brochure 4 - iShould Diplomacy fail when the attitude is Hostile, some of the crowd attacks (1d12 goblins, 1d8 orcs, and 1d8 hobgoblins). Once half of the foes are defeated, several human guards appear and cow the rest of the crowd into submission. The guards chastise the demihumans and their superstitious ways, and direct the party towards the center of Steamtown, where—they are told—they can join the rest of the decent folk and be assigned to their work schedules.

[Steamtown will get some detail this upcoming Thursday, leading into next Saturday’s Sidequest Saturday – The Goblin Rocket Rail! -RT]