Starlog: Void ‘Roid

I previously discussed my first Starfinder session, and in the second session we concluded the initial episode, which I had titled Void ‘Roid. In this post I’ll share the plot structure and talk about a few mechanical details.

Summary

Primary Conflict: Man vs Nature-apparent

While engaged in combat with Space Pirates, a mysterious spacial anomaly forms and spits out an asteroid on a collision course with a nearby inhabited moon (I used Marata, orbiting Bretheda). The asteroid quickly proves resistant to interference and the party must explore ancient alien ruins to gain clues about how to stop it.

Hook

The party is near the end of an ASF escort mission. In media res, the adventure opens with an attack from space pirates. Ships I used for this are in previous posts: ASF Starfighters, ASF Cargo Hauler, and the Space Pirate ships.

Plot Turn 1

After a few rounds of space combat with the pirates, a spatial anomaly forms near the battle. A round or two later it detonates a wide-scale EMP and vanishes as an asteroid emerges, heading straight towards the moon. Ships cruise out of control until they can restart.

For this mechanic, I said it took 3 “points” to restart a ship, and passing an engineer check DC 10+tier counted as 1 point. Passing it 5 or higher than the DC gave 2 points. In the meantime, the ship moves on inertia – in actual play, one pilot had to eject before his ship hit the asteroid as it moved across the map!

The asteroid proves impossible to affect with weapons, tractor beams, etc. Despite being only 2km across, the asteroid has low gravity – implying an extremely dense core. Localized scans reveal what appears to be alien structures on the surface.

If the party sends a distress call, Pact Stewards are on the way, but will arrive too late to be of use.

Midpoint

The party will need to explore the alien structures. Aside from some ancient ruins with primitive writing, there is a smooth black hemispherical building that looks recently added. Here’s the inside map I ended up with:

2017-09-24 10.07.50.jpg

You can fill it however you like, but I used Akata variations on the outside and near the inside. The party figured out their salt water vulnerability, and found elemental sodium in the asteroid. With a chlorine leak from the black building, salt water could have been constructed via a physical sciences skill, but in my case the PCs decided it would take too much time. Time pressure is important in this adventure to keep decisions like this relevant.

The squares in the large room are cobalt plasma detonators if closely examined, and have electricity arcing around them – stepping inside the purple line risks 1d6 damage per round. Small-sized repair drones (inspired by the Tri-Bot White image on this page) are in the small rectangular rooms, charging power, either unaware of or unconcerned with, their impending doom. These bots have an individual CR of 1/4, EAC 11, KAC 12, Melee Claw +2 [d3 P], Ranged Small Laser +2 [d3 F], with a Wound Threshold of 3 and a Kill Threshold of 5. I threw a bunch of these mooks at the party to keep things hopping. They can do some damage to a level 1 party but aren’t a lethal threat. Their main eye changes colors for mode – blue for sense/interact, red for combat, and green for repair.

Plot Turn 2

The room with the central circle/cloud looking icon in the middle is a communications room where the party can realize there is a drift signal broadcasting a carrier wave, understand the true nature of this weapon (a high explosive bomb), and access some computer details such as the layout of the entire asteroid base, locations of other terminals, etc. The interior of the asteroid is filled with an explosive liquid neutronium compound that is highly explosive – it will destroy half the moon if it hits. This room cannot control the navigational systems.

With successful hacking, the party can download data for future analysis with regards to precise targeting, etc., which can be a hook for a future adventure (i.e., why that target?).

The party also discovers a potential ally in the communications room, in the form of a security bot that’s free from the collective. Finding a way to befriend it can give the party an ally capable of helping with the local computer terminals. I imagine it having a rudimentary personality not unlike a puppy, but less playful.

Resolution

There is a powerful Lawful Neutral AI embedded in the building that is completely dedicated to completing its destructive mission.

In the final circular room, there is a robot behind a shield (damage d6 E if contacted). The robot is working on a holographic navigational interface. It is a physical extension of the building’s AI. It intends no harm to the PCs, and will encourage them to leave. However, if they start attempting to interfere with the operations of the asteroid, it will respond in force.

There are two control panels, and both must be hacked and then activated at the same time to remove the shield. In the meantime, more repair drones will attack, specifically targeting anyone interfacing with the terminals.

I designed the AI Robot to be capable of being an independent threat on its own, which meant I had to address the action economy. I gave it an extra action on a second initiative roll, as a temporal blink. In my session he did put up a solid BBEG fight without feeling overwhelming.

Once the AI Robot is defeated, the party can access the navigational array and maneuver the asteroid so that its timed detonation causes it to explode harmlessly in space. Of course, they’ll have to leave before that happens…

BBEG: The AI Robot

White with black trim, no facial features beyond 3 circles placed around its head. Exterior is almost fluid in its movement, with no visible joints or panels. Periodically, blinks out of existence briefly due to some sort of temporal flux.

LN M Construct (Tech) – CR 3

  • Init +4 (roll twice, one is a normal turn, the other is a single action only, associated with a time-blink)
  • Blindsight throughout lair, Perception +9
  • Defense:
    • HP 45
    • EAC 15, KAC 17
    • F+3 R+3 W+1
    • Construct Immunities, Vulnerable to Cold
    • Fast Healing 2 (Nanite self-repair), this happens during the time blink initiative segment
    • Actions taken during time-blink never result in an attack of opportunity
  • Attacks:
    • Melee Slam +10 (1d6+6 B, crit arc 1d6 E), or two slams at +6
    • Electric Lash +12 (1d6+3 E), Fortitude Save DC 16 or be pulled adjacent, max 1/round
      • This is particularly useful when the AI is still inside the shield barrier – the lash is phased to work through the barrier, and can drag opponents into the barrier for additional damage.

Loot!

Aside from a financial mission award, since I used akata, I let the party collect a couple of bulk of noqual for later use. I also allowed some engineering checks on the fallen AI robot for useful components, such as:

  • Infrared Sensor Array (usable as an armor upgrade to grant Darkvision)
  • Electric Lash Generator: Consumable, Tech, Level 3, Ranged attack with 30’ range, 1d6+3 electric damage, fort save DC 11+INT or be pulled to nearest empty square (M size or smaller).
  • Damaged Holomatrix. Tech, Level 3, Functions as the 2nd level version of Holographic Image (DC 11+User’s INT). Roll d8 when used; on a 1 the matrix overloads and emits a high pitched whine instead of the illusion, exploding as a level 4 frag grenade at the end of the user’s next turn.

Numenera taught me how to enjoy depletion mechanics and other unique yet consumable gadgets.

If you read this far, thanks for reading, and hope you found something useful!

 

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