A one-shot adventure on—and around—a desert planet, for use with Hypertellurians, or any modern or old-school fantasy game. Featuring Argencia, the Silver Sorceress, moon goblins with daedalic wings and questionable bombs, habitable tremendostaceans, and a space market like no other.
The adventure is in three parts, and it’ll be up to the Games Machinator to move the players from one part to the next. The text indicates options on how to naturally and frictionlessly accomplish this. In playtests it has never been an obstacle.
The party is a group of Ultracosmic explorers, discovering the wonders of the multiverse via their silver bullet rocket, the Atom Isa. Recently they arrived on the sandy planet of Sonnos, and while they were out adventuring, the “heart” of Atom Isa, the part that makes Ultracosmic travel possible, was stolen.
Before our adventure begins, the characters have learned that the villainous thief is none other than the feared Silver Sorceress, Argencia, who has the power to Crush Men. Furthermore, they have learned that Argencia lives or hides amongst the nomadic tribe of Zelteens, who live and travel on gargantuan hermit crab like beings, known as Tremendostaceans.
- The PCs observe the Zelteen convoy as it heads towards a narrow canyon. They must decide whether to approach or continue to lie in wait.
- The Zelteen set up camp and a market before the canyon. The market attracts visitors and has many wondrous things on offer.
- At some point during the market, the massive conical shell of one of the Tremendostaceans splits of from the gargantocrab carrying it, amid roaring fire, and takes to the sky. Argencia is fleeing!
- The characters chase her in their own rocket (or via other means), as she heads for the ice moon of Kalt.
- While Argencia likely lands safely on Kalt, the Atom Isa crash-lands at the bottom of a cliff, putting a dangerous obstacle between the characters and the sorceress.
- While overcoming the cliffs, the characters are harried by daedalic winged ice moon goblins with their experimental bombs, and possibly enraged moon bears.
- Exploring Argencia’s lair finally puts them toe-to-tow with the villainous thief, and gives the characters the chance to win back the heart of the Atom Isa.
The Atom Isa
For this one-shot the Atom Isa is envisaged as a silver, bullet shaped, rocket spaceship, with plush interiors in warm colors. Perhaps some lava lamps. You may wish to use the Ultranaut Rocket major power from Hypertellurians, and let the players pick 2—3 qualities from that list, or make up some of their own.
The salient point is that the MacGuffin that allows the rocket to jump between universes has been stolen. It’s also part of the main power source of the ship, so while planetary and interplanetary travel still works, it’s bumpier and less reliable (see Race to the Moon) than before.
- The characters are a group of Ultracosmic explorers.
- They are stranded on the desert planet of Sonnos because the “heart” of their rocket ship, the Atom Isa, has been stolen.
- They have figured out that the thief is Argencia, the Silver Sorceress, who has the power to Crush Men.
- They have tracked her down to the nomadic Zelteen.
Nomadic Tremendostacean Procession
The Zelteen are a nomadic, desert dwelling people, known as traders of exceptional goods. They live atop gargantuan hermit crab like creatures called Tremendostaceans. These docile, enormous crabs, carry conical shells, festooned with wooden shacks, walkways, and colorful banners denoting clans within the Zelteen. Rope bridges connect various levels of the shell with neighboring Tremendostaceans, as they move slowly and in unison across the sandy wastes of Sonnos.
The tribes have outriders that ride Macrostaceans, giant lobster like creatures; these outriders functions both as scouts and guards. They carry long spears sporting clan banners. On a leash of chain, they furthermore guide impossibly muscular Humanohulks, whose heads are encased in metal buckets. While so endarkened they are docile, but the Zelteen guards can open their head buckets, at which point the hulks go berserk and destroy anything that doesn’t carry a Zelteen banner. The guards do this only in dire emergencies, on account of the invariably sizable collateral damage.
While the Zelteen convoy is made up predominantly of Zelteen traders, artisans, outriders, and such, many traders of far flung origins accompany them, to sell their own exotic wares. Perhaps even other characters the party has had run-ins with before.
The Zelteen are headed towards a narrow canyon, but they set up shop with their famous market at the canyon’s entrance, where they quickly attract traveling customers. They’re planning to stay for a few days, but in practice Argencia’s lift-off (see Race to the Moon) will cut the market short.
In the meantime though, the characters—assuming they approached peacefully—should have the opportunity to explore to the market, barter for some of the exotic wares, and possibly engage in an unexpected event or two.
Use the data from A Day in the Market of Helix to represent the market, substituting the city of Helix for the camp of the Zelteen.
Possible Market Events
Spice up the shopping and bartering with these events as needed. See the market article linked above for details on the people and creatures involved.
- Lomarc walks past the characters and makes an off-hand, dismissive mark about a character’s outfit.
- A person bumps into a character. They’re covered in magnolia paint top to bottom, and were sent flying by a massive punch as they were testing Magnis’s Undercoat paint.
- A warchicken is on the loose, birdmaster Effluvion chasing after it, and shouting at people to stop it.
- A Zelteen is blind drunk on Piglin muck, and can’t stop laughing.
- A goatfolk pilgrim—as erudite as the next of them— has stumbled onto the market and is aghast at Nanny Nontyvia selling their religious texts. Especially since her editions are so out of date.
- One of Argencia’s moon goblin (they’re icy blue) henchfolk is caught steeling a can of Magwoo paint.
- A convoy of nomadic traders called the Zelteen are traveling across the sandy wastes.
- They live atop Tremendostaceans: gigantic hermit crab like creatures with huge conical shells, festooned in huts and bridges.
- They stop in front of a narrow canyon and set up market.
- They are peaceful unless provoked.
- They know Argencia, and that she booked passage in one of the Tremendostaceans, but they don’t easily give up this information. They do not know that she’s transformed it into her personal rocket lair.
- Argencia’s lair is in one of the Tremendostaceans, and at some point her henchmen cut the ropebridges to the other beasts, sending Zelteen tumbling, and the shell part takes off into the sky.
Race to the Moon
This part of the adventure starts as the screams of tumbling Zelteen are heard from one of the gargantuan pack beasts: a dozen or so moon goblins are cutting all the ropes and rope bridges to other Tremendostaceans. A huge fire erupts from under the massive shell, burning the crab creature to a crisp and launching the whole structure into the sky, on a trajectory to the ice moon Kalt.
If the characters have not found out yet that the sorceress resides within this particular shell, have other Zelteen scream “Argencia has murdered those people, and now she’s flying away!”, or something along those lines, or else, have the banner atop the shell be replaced with one that is obviously hers, or maybe even have her step out at the top of the shell and gloat as it takes off (in a suitable glass bowl space helmet, naturally).
Either way, the characters should attempt to chase her. The most obvious route would be via their own rocket ship, the Atom Isa, but any method will do—even shooting grappling hooks at Argencia’s shell rocket. If necessary, remind the players that she’s got their ship’s heart, and they can’t let her get away.
The characters should have a hard time stopping Argencia’s rocket from landing on the ice moon. Their own rocket—sans heart—should be unreliable and difficult to stear, and ideally crash land at the bottom of a tall ice cliff below the sorceress’ landing site.
Here are some ways to accomplish that, but as always, don’t force it. The characters boarding her ship while it’s escaping makes for a great story too, and additionally, is a good way cut a part of the adventure if time is running low.
- Questionable piloting, with failed piloting checks, or the lack of a pilot.
- Attack by a giant, translucent space squid.
- Navigational systems burning up in atmospheric entry.
- A character getting a coffee from the rocket ship’s bar drains power to the engine.
Wrong End of the Cliff
However it happened, the character’s rocket ship should now have crash landing at the bottom of a tall icy cliff, perhaps stuck in the ice upside down and antenna first. For extra fun, have the crash disturb a bunch of moon bears, who now congregate around the ship, eager for meaty vengeance.
Allow the players to come up with interesting ways to get to the top of the cliff. Failed climbing rolls and such shouldn’t be lethal, despite the distance fallen. Instead, have them land on a surprised bear, giving them a second chance, or land in the water and be soaked and shivering.
However they attempt to ascend, unless it’s instant, they will be harried by a dozen or so ice moon goblin henchmen, with experimental daedalic wings, and even more experimental bombs. Bombs with exploding effects such as:
|4||Fiery (melting the ground, and refreezing almost instantly, possibly leaving a character’s feet trapped)|
|5||Angry ice moon wasps|
|6||Lovely scent, reminiscent of a spring bouquet|
|8||Dud (1d4 blunt damage)|
|10||Near-instantly freezing water|
- Argencia’s Tremendostacean shell rocket ship and lair takes to the skies breathing fire, on a trajectory to ice moon Kalt.
- The characters chase after her in their own rocket, the Atom Isa.
- Argencia lands softly on the moon, while the characters crash land at the bottom of a tall ice cliff, beset by moon bears.
- As the characters climb the cliff, they are harried by ice moon goblin henchmen with daedalic wings and experimental bombs.
Within Argencia’s Dominion
Argencia’s lair is inside a huge conical shell, with spiraling levels that are tall and wide at the bottom, and shorter and narrower at the top. Doors to the outside are barred from the inside, but not terribly strong, and sometimes left open by a pair of goblin guards running out.
The place is lit by soft glowing red and purple orbs. Towards the bottom, the light is sparse, the rooms and corridors hard and angular, and it’s generally quiet. As one heads to the top, the architecture and surfaces become softer, the light brighter, and the quiet is pierced by occasional beeps and bloops.
There are generally one or two passages from a room, with pictorial signs indicating what comes next. A character who can read pictorial languages (such as hieroglyphs) can have a go at interpreting these.
These are the types of rooms in the lair, use them as makes for the most dramatic exploration:
|1||Goblin quarters: filthy, smelly, lewd drawings, 2 snoozing goblins.|
|2||Goblin bomb lab: unfinished experimental bombs (as above), 1 or 2 crazy goblin scientists.|
|3||Goblin Da Vinci lab: where all the inventing happens, blueprints, half-finished wing constructions.|
|4||Various mundane store rooms, kitchens, toilets.|
|5||Elaborate steam baths: series of scented baths of varying temperatures, 1 or 2 easily terrified toy boys or women lounging.|
|6||Engine room: tiny cosmos in a hovering globe; energy comes from bright star in the middle.|
Besides Argencia herself, two types of people occupy the lair: her toy boys and women, and her ice moon goblin henchmen. The former are tellurians and humanoids of exceptional build and beauty, well muscled, well oiled, and clad in skimpy and strappy leather gear. While they look like they’re strong and could fight, they are cowardly, and only here to look good and please their sorcerous mistress.
The goblins are the real danger, not for their stature or individual power, but for their experimental bombs and other inventions, and of course their sheer numbers. There are at least 2 dozen in Argencia’s employ, and they are madly loyal.
The goblin captain carries a vibro spear.
The Apex Trinity
The topmost room in the Silver Sorceress’ lair is made up of 3 parts:
|1||The Helm: rocket ship operations, bleepy lights and giant computers.|
|2||The Lounge: Argencia’s chaise-longe, all pillows, lava lamps, and toy boys.|
|3||The Mind Room: comfortable sofa where a full face helmet rests. It has many tubes attached to head-sized metal cylinders that line shelves around the walls. Each contains a harvested alien brain. The wearer of the helmet can experience anything the brains previously have, and even combine and mix experiences, for the ultimate sensory and extra-sensory adventure.|
Argencia, the Silver Sorceress
Argencia is a sexy villainess straight from a sci-fi B-movie of old, all allure, and all in silver. She prefers seducing and bargaining over fighting, though she’s not averse to Crush Men from a distance while her goblin henchmen wail on intruders with their surprising weapons. Additionally, she has set the heart of Atom Isa, in gem form, into her staff, which altogether gives her the following powers:
- Crush Men: target must succeed at opposed Mind check, or have sense of self stripped way, grovel, and submit utterly to caster, for 1 scene (or permanent if affected 3 times in a row); humanoids identifying as male only.
- Tug at Heartstrings: opposed Agility check, or target is pulled a long distance towards the caster, stunned by emotion for 1 round.
- Protect Me!: designated toy boy or woman, or crushed man, throws itself into harm’s way for you, once per round, free action.
- Experience This: touched target takes 3d6 Mind damage as it lives the combined experiences from several brains in the Mind machine.
- Emergency Eject: transport self, or creature(s) touched, into random location in the Ultracosm, at a cost of 1d6 Mind per creature.
Argencia desires power and to be desired, and will attempt to flee if things look dire for her.
Use the persons below as pregenerated characters to get started quickly with the adventure, or as NPCs in the market of the Zeldeen, as necessary.
You are a formless blob of translucent organs with glowing, green arteries, squished into a vaguely human-shaped sausage casing. Topped off with a fez and a linen suit.
Drive: Arcane knowledge. Magic is everywhere and it is your heart’s desire to study and command it, whether it’s for altruistic reasons or not.
Strengths: Level Playing Field, Phase, Acid Blood, Sleep Spores, Bioluminescent.
Weakness: The casing that houses your form is prone to punctures, randomly spraying your acid blood about.
Equipment: Linen suit, fez, leather satchel, three-fingered monkey paw of cursed luck (opposed Mind check to syphon luck for a 1 scene), expensive watch, spelltome: summon minor sirocco demon for 1 scene (opposed Mind to command it)
Veteran beetle-man general. Some years ago you got cut off from your hive, now you’re trying to come to terms with the comparative silence in your mind.
Drive: You look for meaning in a life without the hive. For now, you have dedicated yourself to protecting Lady Dashwood and her companions.
Strengths: Grace, Rallying Speech, Lead the Charge, Breadth of Ages (warfare strategy), Hard Knocks (melee).
Weakness: You are conditioned to think in groups rather than individuals. You make decisions that favor the many.
Equipment: Chitinous carapace (heavy armor, attached, comfortable), handy second pair of arms (attached), claws on every limb (light weapon; 1d4 damage, ongoing), glaive (heavy weapon; 1d8 damage, forceful, long, exhausting), necklace of service “medals”.
Your name means “the gorgeous one”, but perhaps that refers more to the time before you were an embalmed and mummified corpse that walks.
Drive: Wealth. Everything and everyone has a price, and you aim to be wealthy enough to acquire whatever your heart desires, whether it be for comfort or influence.
Strengths: Drawn (greed), Unliving, Pestilent, Profane Semblance of Life, Unholy Sustenance.
Weakness: Flammable. Phobia of large, open spaces.
Equipment: Biomechanical carburator bowel and air conditioning unit (+5 Brawn buffer), all the linen straps anyone could possibly desire, 500 gold pieces worth of ancient jewelry, friends in expensive places throughout the Ultracosm, whom you can occasionally call upon for favors.
You are a young explorer, adventurer, archeologist, and philanthroper, heiress to the Dashwood estate. You do your adventuring in style, with panache, and with a smile.
Drive: Exploration. The Ultracosm is nothing short of miraculous and unpredictable, and exploring it is the one true path in life. Broadening one’s horizons is best achieved through experiencing the untold wonders the worlds have to offer.
Strengths: Favored, Know Things, Ray Emitter, The Stars are Right, Wonders Never Cease.
Weakness: Trouble magnet. If there’s ever a question about who falls into the trap or who gets kidnapped, it’s always you. But you generally get away with it!
Equipment: Stiff corset and victorian gown with all the acoutrements (light armor), eldritch compass that always points to the nearest source of Wonder, 15 gold coins in cash, and a chequebook that rarely gets accepted out and about, spyglass with multiple zoom levels (medium weapon in a bind; 1d6 damage, blunt, fragile, parry), the journal of explorer Hypathia Dashwood (perhaps the source of your Know Things power), hand-held ray emitter (light weapon; 1d6 damage; magic, ranged).
Where’s my PDF/softcover?
We’re working on a slightly expanded, fully laid out version, with brand new art by a master artist, unlike the amateur scribbles from myself here. :) Keep an eye out for it.