Sea of Stars
The Temple of Stars
An Adventure for First Level
PCs are a group hired by a shadowy figure to infiltrate an old temple ruins outside of town and bring their patron the magical gem that it protects. As it turns out, the temple is an ancient Illithid void-beacon, and the gem an item that shuts it down. Once they take it, there is a pulse of magic as it comes alive again, and their patron is nowhere to be found afterwards. Game ends with a massive meteor appearing overhead, and crashing into the beacon. It cracks open like a massive egg, and swarms of beholders emerge.
- Difficulty: 3 Average (600 – 750 xp), 1 Hard (900 – 1200 xp)
- Magic Items: 5th level, 4th level, 3rd level (x2), 2nd level; 2 //potions of healing//
- Coinage: 320 gp
- Gems: 2 moonstones (100 gp) and a piece of amber (100 gp)
- Art Objects: None
- Game begins in the Kingdom of Culthrain, a kingdom known for its proximity to the ruins of a long-fallen empire, as well as a major trading nexus for many nations, including a nearby dwarven thanedom and an elven foresthold.
- They are in the city of Blackwall, on the eastern edges of the kingdom, a place built in the ruins of a long-fallen city, of which the massive walls of black obsidian that surround the city are the only things that remain.
- Each of the players describes what it is that their patron could have told them to get them to meet him to discuss a project he wants them to undertake.
- The woman who meets them is Andaria Eliskar, a noblewoman who is well known as a collector of ancient artifacts. She is known to have financed some of the biggest expeditions to recover ancient artifacts in the whole Kingdom of Culthrain. She is accompanied by a tiefling bodyguard.
- She tells them that she moved to the city of Blackwall for two reasons: there are many ruins nearby, and plenty of adventurers interested in exploring them. But she’s really been here all this time because she’s looking for a lost temple. She’s had people explore many ruins in the area, but has finally uncovered some information that she feels indicates the temple is actually beneath Blackwall itself.
- She wants them to go and see if they can find it, exploring a series of tunnels she found by following the clues she has.
- They are to get as far into the temple as they can. Anything they find they are to bring back to her, and she’ll pay them well for it, above and beyond her promised payment of 100 gp apiece. This includes magic items – she wants first opportunity to purchase them, at a more than fair market-price.
Finding the Temple
Average Skill Challenge
The heroes search for the ruins through the winding passageways that continue to delve deeper and deeper beneath the surface of the city.
- Skill Challenge: Dif 10, 8/3. Using Athletics, Dungeoneering, Endurance and Perception.
- 1st and 2nd Failure: If the PCs turn down the wrong corridor, they accidentally trigger a minor cave-in that costs all of them a Healing Surge.
- 3rd Failure: The heroes finally emerge into the light…only to discover that they are a distance from the city, in the hills. The opening was recently uncovered by a landslide. They have to start their search all over.
The Chamber of Stars
The first chamber is a massive vestibule, set with pillars of floating crystal in a field of glittering star-like sparks of radiance. A single large such field sits at the far end of the vestibule, just before the large double-doors. In this 2 × 2 area whirls a field of faceted crystals, throwing sparks of light all over the room.
The pillars are a strange phenomenon. Studying them reveals that it would be fairly simple to push one of the floating crystalline structures out of the field in which it floats, as an attack if necessary.
- Attack: Any adjacent character can make an attack with a pillar, pushing it over into any of three squares opposite his position.
- Move Action • Requirement: Must be adjacent to a pillar. Check: There is no check to push the pillar over. The pillar falls into the square it is pushed into and explodes into a thousand shards. Target: Each creature in an Area Burst 1 centered on the square the pillar is pushed into. Attack: Level +3 vs. Reflex. Hit: 1d10 + one-half level damage, and the target is blinded (save ends). Miss: Half damage. Effect: The entire area affected becomes difficult terrain.
- Pillars of Light (Arcane Skill Check DC 13): Anyone studying the pillars may make an Arcana check.
- Success indicates that these refract and empower any Radiant effects. Attacks with the Radiant keyword that either include one of the pillars in the area, or that are launched with the pillar in line of effect between attacker and target(s) gain +3 Radiant damage (or +1 for minions).
The Crystals Stir
Once the party reaches the half-way point in the vestibule, the crystals in the display at the end of the hall shift, and absorb their field of stars, becoming a Shard Golem. If the Shard Golem is attacked, as a free action it may command four Energy Motes to be spawned from any of the crystals. The Energy Motes use the Radiant-amplifying nature of the pillars to their best effect.
- 1 Shard Golem; 4 Energy Motes
The Passage of Stars
The door that leads from the Chamber of Stars into the Stellar Altar is sealed by a great stone door, inset with gleaming blue-black metal and a variety of dark black stones with shards of star-like glitter in their depths.
- Lock: The door has a complex clockwork-like locking mechanism. It can be opened with a DC 15 Thievery check.
- The Field of Whirling Stars: Anyone who touches the door without first disarming the trap activates the Field of Whirling Stars, a magical deterrent placed on the doorway by the temple’s builders.
- Trap: The large door. Perception (DC 20): The character notices the occult pattern that demonstrates a release of energy by anyone who touches it. Trigger: Any creature touches or otherwise interacts with the door. Attack: Immediate Reaction • Blast 3 • +4 vs. Reflex against any creature in burst Hit: 1d6+3 Radiant damage, and blinded (save ends). Miss: Half damage. Effect: Once the trap has fired off, it resets itself with a 1-3/d6 and can be immediately retriggered. Countermeasures: An adjacent character can disarm the trap with a DC 15 Thievery or Arcana check.
- Destroying: Breaking the door down requires a Strength check DC 20.
The Stellar Altar
This chamber is a domed room, with a single, central round altar in the shape of a manta ray, its tail arcing up over its head. This altar sits on a eight-spoked star pattern, with plate-sized discs of some strange crystal at its points. On its back is a weird pattern of raised geometrical shapes that looks like nothing so much as a stylized map of some kind. From the center of this pattern raises a pillar on which orbits a deep red stone with drifting patterns of black fog within it, in which pulse star-like flecks.
The Altar of Stars
If the drifting stone is taken up, the patterns in the map on the altar’s back lights up and zooms along channels to the eight discs, which immediately glow and seem to warp in eight creatures. These creatures are about the size of dogs, with twisting, barrel-chested torsos that taper away into sinuous tails. Six tentacles extend from their torsos, and three eyes the same color as the discs on the floor regard them with alien hatred. Their movements are incredibly slow, silently drifting from one place to the next. When attacking they emit pulse-waves of crackling psychic energy, or lash their foes with their tentacles.
Once the stone is removed and the Nifalhi present, the Altar of Stars begins emitting occasional pulses of energy (on +7 Initiative). The first pulse seals the doors tight – stone wall simply appears in the opening, as though the door never existed. From that point on, the pulse inflicts 2d6 psychic damage to any creature Marked by one of the Nifalhi.
After all the Nifalhi are defeated, the doors appear once more and the altar cracks. This seems to release an strange light from within, which arcs upwards into a pillar of light that strikes the roof of the temple, shining brightly.
Waylaid in the Sewers
As the heroes travel away from the Temple, they see a flickering and a man appears, with one of the Nifalhi beside him. In the light, his skin is drawn, grey and strange-looking. (Arcane check reveals he is a Githzerai, a psychic race of astral-dwelling creatures). He demands that they give him the stone. When they refuse to, he attacks, and a pair of other githzerai warp in behind them to attack as well.
- Auctas, Githzerai Guardian; 2 Githzerai Scouts; 1 Nifalhi
When the party emerges from the temple, Andaria is there to meet them. She seems very happy, and takes the gem from them. She then orders her four hired mercenaries to kill them. Afterwards, those who search them notice that Andaria has a weird pattern of scarring at the base of her skull, though it’s clearly at least a year old.
- Andaria Eliskar; 4 Human Mercenaries
Epilogue: The Stone from the Sky
- As the party is out on the streets of Blackwall again, they see that all eyes are on the thin beam of beautiful star-white light that seems to be lancing up from the ground in the middle of the merchant’s quarter of the city. People are gathered around it, looking at it in wonder.
- As the PCs watch, though, a great shadow appears overhead, quickly growing larger. People scream and flee as a massive chunk of stone, easily the size of a small keep arcs downwards from the sky, seeming to ride the beam of light like a spider on its web, and impacts the city. There is a deafening explosion, and much of the city is destroyed.
- Then, from out of the cloud, there some spherical shapes – small beholders! They are swarming out of the cracked, hollow stone, the interior of which drips with some kind of foul ichor. These small beholders are rising out of the filth, taking to the air, and attacking the locals, eating them where they can, while five larger beholders rise from the wreckage to hover menacingly over the city, watching over their young as they feed.