The Mystery of Hoegar’s Hollow is a location-based adventure designed for any mix of four 5th-level adventurers. This side quest adventure introduces characters to the science-fiction campaign setting of Blueshift. The adventure works best if the characters have no idea what they are getting into; the science-fiction elements should be a total surprise.
Note: this adventure is still in editorial mode, so there may be typos, logic errors, etc.
Two decades ago, the people of Hoegar’s Hollow witnessed a comet streak through the sky. Typically, this was seen as a good omen. As wildly superstitious worshippers of an agriculture god, the simple folk of Hoegar’s Hollow thought that it was their god, Olan telling them that the spring would bring a healthy harvest. But then the comet turned towards the land and crashed into the forest to the north of the village.
The people of Hoegar’s Hollow rushed towards the site of the meteor landing. Following the meteor’s burning path, they eventually came upon something the old folks named “the Great Silver Turtle.” Hoegarian historians described the turtle as gargantuan, easily the size of a barn. They said the turtle “bled silver blood” onto the surrounding land and that anything its blood touched was changed by it. Plants grew wild. Animals evolved and became aggressive. And humanoids that came into contact with the turtle’s blood mutated and went insane.
The first few weeks were difficult. The unchanged Hoegarians fought for their lives against the ghastly creatures altered by the turtle’s blood. Eventually, they defeated the horrors and burned the bodies. Quickly, the dangerous forest that grew around the turtle was cordoned off by the Hoegarians and renamed the Silverwood.
Knowing that they had to protect the secrets of the Great Silver Turtle from those who might use its blood for evil, the Hoegarians formed a faction: the Silver Wardens. For twenty years, the Silver Wardens kept the Great Silver Turtle and Silverwood a secret. Until now.
The Great Silver Turtle
What the Hoegarians didn’t realize is that their Great Silver Turtle was actually a science vessel named the Paramount that crash-landed in their forest. The ship ran on an experimental self-regenerating fuel called Blueshift. However, the crash landing left the Paramount significantly damaged and unable to repair itself quickly; it would take nearly two decades for it to get itself running again.
A side-effect of the Blueshift fuel was that it had the power to alter any living thing that touched it. This is why the animals and plant life that came into contact with it transformed.
Finally, after twenty years, the Paramount has repaired itself and is ready to return to space. The only trouble is, it has no crew.
The Return of Doctor Kalaxan
When the Paramount crashed, most of the crew died on impact. However, the crew’s android lead scientist, Doctor Kalaxan survived, thrown from the wreckage. Realizing the dangers of the spilled Blueshift, Kalaxan left the scene and disappeared into the forest surrounding the crash site.
Quietly, Kalaxan has been surviving in this new, low-technology world, under the guise of a wizard named Kalaxan the Magnificent. For twenty years, he’s been trying to solve three riddles: first, how to stop the fuel from altering the physiologies of living things that come into contact with it; second, how to get past the Silver Wardens and back to the ship; and third, where to find a crew to pilot the Paramount back to outer space.
Kalaxan believes that he has solved the first riddle. Now he just needs to solve the second and third riddles.
And that’s where the adventurers come in.
The adventure starts when the characters are in the village of Hoegar’s Hollow looking for work. Read or paraphrase the following:
After looking through the job boards and help-wanted postings, you discover that it’s the same here as it is everywhere else: no work. All the good adventuring gigs keep getting grabbed by the biggest and best. With so many adventurers these days, it’s almost impossible for a group of rookie wannabe-heroes to find work.
Unless they want to shovel pig pens, that is.
While passing through a tavern, the characters are spotted by a mysterious, cloaked figure sitting at the back of the bar. The figure signals the characters over, offering them drinks with promises of work.
If the characters accept, read or paraphrase the following:
The cloaked figure pulls back his hood revealing the friendly face of an old, bearded man. “Greetings and well met, travelers! My name is Kalaxan the Magnificent, and I am in dire need of assistance. Hopefully, you are able to aid me in this time-sensitive quest.
“Two weeks ago, my apprentice, Roma, and I were traveling north of the village here when some sort of vile creature attacked us. The two of us were separated. I managed to return here to the village, but I fear poor Roma was lost in the forest.
“I tried to alert the authorities that my assistant was lost, but they did not seem to wish to help. They told me, ‘If she is lost in the forest, there’s nothing we can do.’ I fear that the people of this village are trying to cover something up. In fact, I believe that there is a secret organization at work here.”
The old man pauses, throwing suspicious looks at the other bar patrons. He then continues, whispering, “If you can help me find my assistant Roma, I can reward each of you 50 gold pieces for your troubles. Plus, you will have the gratitude of the powerful, whimsical, amazing, Kalaxan the Magnificent!”
Just then, illusory fireworks leap from the old wizard’s hands as he laughs merrily.
Of course, this is all a ruse. Doctor Kalaxan (see Appendix C) is using a disguise self protocol to make himself appear as an old man instead of his true robot form. And there is no actual apprentice, either. Kalaxan wants the characters to find their way to the wrecked science vessel so he can convince them to help him fly back to space.
Should the characters ask additional questions, Kalaxan can provide the following information:
- Kalaxan believes that the secret organization in Hoeger’s Hollow calls itself “The Silver Wardens.” However, none of the Hoegarians will speak of the Wardens. (This is true.)
- Although he isn’t quite sure what attacked him and Roma, he believes that it was some sort of mutated bear creature. (Nothing attacked Kalaxan. This is a lie.)
- Reading up on the history of the Silverwood to the north of Hoegar’s Hollow, Kalaxan learned that twenty years ago a great fire fell from the sky into the forest. Since that day, the woods have become a dangerous place to venture into. The great fire fell in the center of the forest. (This is mostly true.)
- Kalaxan has heard rumors that there is a beast known as the Great Silver Turtle that makes its home in the center of the forest. He believes that the Silver Wardens will kill any who discover the turtle. (While the Wardens are indeed protecting the Silver Turtle, they only kill if provoked.)
Kalaxan recommends that the characters start their search at Old Hoegar’s Hollow, a collection of houses around a small pond north of the main village.
The jumping-off point for this adventure, Hoegar’s Hollow, is intentionally left vague. Should the players follow the beats of the adventure, it’s likely they will never return to Hoegar’s Hollow. Of course, if they decide not to assist Kalaxan on his quest, Hoegar’s Hollow might make a good base of operations for the characters. In that case, any village with a population of a few hundred people will work. You might even use Rivertown detailed in BroadSword Monthly #2.
If you need to come up with a quick name for an NPC or the details of a specific location in Hoegar’s Hollow, refer to chapters 4 and 5 of the DMG.
Assume that the village of Hoegar’s Hollow has everything the characters need in order to prepare for the quest. All of the items and equipment in the PHP are available for purchase, and the town boasts a cozy inn/tavern of modest quality.
The Silver Wardens
The major faction that operates out of Hoeger’s Hollow is known as the Silver Wardens. They keep the Great Silver Turtle and the truth of Silverwood’s mysteries a secret.
The Silver Wardens are lead by Tarren Ironstout (LG male hill dwarf druid), a serious but compassionate Hoegarian. The other ten members of the Silver Wardens are all lawful neutral scouts, fiercely loyal to Tarren and Hoegar’s Hollow.
The Silver Wardens have three directives:
- Protect the secrets of the Silverwood at all costs.
- Do not kill unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Any creature affected by the turtle’s blood must be destroyed.
Old Hoegar’s Hollow
Once the characters are ready, they can follow Kalaxan’s directions to Old Hoegar’s Hollow. When the characters arrive at the abandoned town, read or paraphrase the following:
Twenty-years worth of wild ivy and tall grass have made this old, abandoned village nearly unidentifiable. Birds make their homes in the collapsed rooves of the ruined buildings. A rabbit leaps out of of a window and through the posts of what was once a picket fence.
Just ahead of you is the forest Kalaxan told you about. Other than the wind rustling through the wood’s silver-tipped leaves, it is eerily quiet.
Interestingly, you notice footprints in the mud of the abandoned village’s square leading into the forest.
The footprints were accidentally left by the normally cautious Silver Wardens. Following the footprints with a few successful DC 12 Wisdom (Survival) checks will lead the characters from Old Hoegar’s Hollow directly to the location of the Great Silver Turtle.
Through the Silverwood
It is roughly 15 miles from Old Hoegar’s Hollow to the center of the Silverwood where the Great Silver Turtle lies. Unless the characters have a ranger among them or another creature that can speed up travel, it should take the characters a day to reach the center of the wood.
Instead of using random encounters, use the following encounters to build upon the mystery of the Silverwood itself. You’re free to put the encounters in any order you like, morning, day, or night.
“There’s Something Watching Us”
At some point, the characters get the feeling that they are being watched by something in the forest: a twig snaps, they see something out of the corner of their eye, or just have a bad feeling.
Their suspicions are correct: they’re being followed by Kalaxan. Kalaxan has been following the characters ever since they entered the forest, using an invisibility protocol to hide.
Kalaxan is fast and tough to detect in the forest. You might have the characters chase the invisible android through the forest, eventually losing sight of him. Or you might even have them catch Kalaxan momentarily in his true form (he won’t look anything like the same wizard that tasked them). Kalaxan then uses his dimension door protocol to escape.
It’s pretty tough for a humanoid to move through the Silverwood without the Silver Wardens noticing it. Unless the characters are exceptionally cautious, the Silver Wardens set an ambush for the characters.
Four Silver Wardens (LN male and female human scouts armed with nets in addition to their shortswords and longbows) hide among the trees. Have the characters make a DC 17 Wisdom (Perception) check to spot the Wardens. If the characters fail to notice the Wardens, the Wardens surprise the characters. Primarily, the Wardens hope to subdue and capture the characters, using nets and non-lethal damage to take them out.
If things turn bad for the characters, it’s possible that Kalaxan comes in at the last minute and saves them. Kalaxan attacks in his true android form. The spacefarer has no qualms about dealing lethal damage to the Silver Wardens. Once he’s rescued the characters, he disappears back into the forest using either his invisibility or dimension door protocols.
After traveling through the Silverwood for a while, read the following:
All of you stop dead in your tracks. Roughly one hundred feet from where you stand, there’s something rustling in the foliage. Whatever it is ahead of you growls. Then, it begins to charge. Although it’s moving fast, you can make out its rough shape. It looks like a wolf, but it has patchy, mottled fur, and two snarling heads.
The two-headed wolf is aggressive and dangerous. It was changed by the turtle’s blood. Use the death dog stat block, except that if it infects one of the characters with a disease, the disease doesn’t reduce their hit point maximum. Instead, the character is infected with turtle’s blood (see the “Turtle’s Blood” sidebar).
If the death dog encounter proves to be too much of a challenge, the characters can be rescued by the Silver Wardens, Kalaxan, or a combination of both.
Turtle’s Blood (Blueshift)
Turtle’s blood is the name given by the Silver Wardens for the fuel leaking from the Paramount.
If a creature is exposed to turtle’s blood or attacked by a creature altered by turtle’s blood, it must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or become infected. An infected creature begins to show symptoms in 1d4 hours; its skin starts to turn grey and develop a painful rash. After 24 hours elapse the creature transforms. Its alignment changes to neutral evil, and it becomes aggressive towards all other creatures around it. If a character is changed, the GM assumes control until the character the disease is cured.
In addition to its alignment shift and aggressive nature, the creature develops a mutation. Choose one of the random mutations on the table below or roll a d10 to decide:
|1||Two heads. The creature has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks and on saving throws against being blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, stunned, or knocked unconscious.|
|2||Tentacle. The creature has a tentacle sprouting from somewhere on its body which it can use to make melee weapon attacks with. On a hit, the tentacle deals bludgeoning damage equal to 1d6 plus the creature’s Strength modifier. In addition, the creature has advantage on Strength (Athletics) checks made to grapple.|
|3||Tough hide. The creature gains a +2 bonus to its AC.|
|4||Gaping maw. The creature’s mouth is unusually large, allowing it to use its bite as a melee weapon attack. On a hit, the bite attack deals piercing damage equal to 1d6 plus its Strength modifier. If the creature already has a bite attack, the damage caused by its bite increases by one damage die.|
|5||Glowing eyes. The creature can see through normal and magical darkness out to 30 ft., but it has disadvantage on its Dexterity (Stealth) checks made to hide in dark or dimly lit areas.|
|6||Extra legs. The creature’s walking speed increases by 20 ft., and it has advantage on ability checks to avoid being knocked prone.|
|7||Acid spray. As an action, the creature sprays acid in a 15-foot cone. Each creature in the area must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw with a DC of 8 + the creature’s proficiency bonus + the creature’s Constitution modifier. A target takes 2d6 acid damage on failed saving throw and half as much damage on a successful one. This attack recharges on a roll of 5 or 6.|
|8||Claws. The creature develops long, unnatural-looking claws, allowing it to use its claws as a melee weapon attack. On a hit, the claw attack deals slashing damage equal to 1d6 plus its Strength modifier. If the creature already has a claw attack, the damage caused by its claw attack increases by one damage die.|
|9||Size increase. The target’s size increases by one category as if under the enlargement effects of the enlarge/reduce spell.|
|10||Amorphous. The creature’s molecular structure completely collapses. It becomes an ochre jelly except that it retains its Intelligence and Wisdom scores.|
When the characters finally reach the center of the wood, read the following description:
The dense, wildly-overgrown foliage finally gives way to a clearing. At its center, some 300 feet from you, you see what looks like a silver creature laying on its belly. The shell of the creature measures roughly 100 feet-squared and sticks 50-feet out of the ground. It’s completely covered in vines, mushrooms, and other flora. Near the front of it, you see what appears to be three glossy, dome-like bubbles, possibly its eyes, with three cavernous holes just below each eye; possibly a way for the creature to breathe. At either side of the colossal thing, there are what appear to be fins, half-buried under vegetation and soil.
The creature isn’t moving. Perhaps it’s dead? Regardless, there is no way to know whether or not it can detect you.
This is the “Great Silver Turtle” that the characters may have heard about. Of course, it’s not a turtle at all, but the Paramount, Kalaxan’s science vessel. After twenty years of being hidden away, it has finally fully repaired itself. All it needs is its crew and it can leave the Silverwood and return to space.
The characters should be given a chance to observe then approach the Paramount. Once they’re close enough, they can see that the “Great Silver Turtle” has more in common with a building than a creature.
If they climb on top of the Paramount, a successful DC 13 Intelligence (Investigation) check reveals a hatch (see area 1 below). The hatch has been opened recently by the Silver Wardens. Tarren Ironstout and his men are fully aware that the Great Silver Turtle is nothing more than a strange ship. They have no idea how to get it operational but have inspected the inside in an attempt to learn more about the ship and its purpose.
Inside the Paramount
The characters can open the Paramount’s hatch and descend the ladder to the inside.
1 – Crew Quarters/Central Corridors
The first time the characters descend the ladder (marked “C” on the map) read the following:
The ladder descends 10 feet into the “belly” of the beast. As you may have already guessed, it’s not a beast at all, but some sort of building or ship. You find yourself in some sort of hallway T-junction. Directly ahead of you are six doors, three to your left and three to your right. Everything appears to made out of smooth, polished steel. There are no signs of age, dust, or decay. It’s as if it’s been perfectly preserved.
Suddenly, panels near the tops of the ceilings light up with a soft white glow.
“Hello,” says a disembodied female voice. “Welcome to the Paramount.”
The voice comes from ROMA, the ship’s internal computer system (see the “General Features of the Paramount” sidebar).
The characters are free to ask ROMAany questions they have and she always answers truthfully, to the best of her ability. If asked, she will tell them exactly what she is: a computer system that operates the Paramount, an experimental Russell-Class Science Vessel from the Planet Kyrr. She and the rest of the crew crashed landed after they escaped from the Girrix, a deadly warrior race. The Girrix wanted to get their hands on the Blueshift fuel. All of the crew are dead with the exception of the lead science officer, Dr. Kalaxan, who periodically comes to visit.
The crew quarters (areas 1a-f) are empty. Each has a small desk, trunk, and a vertical hyperbed (see Appendix A). Two red flexsuits hang from hooks on the wall.
The door to area 3 remains closed. When asked why ROMA responds that it was the captain’s room and only the captain of the Paramount is allowed to enter.
General Features of the Paramount
Unless otherwise noted, these are the general features inside the Paramount.
Ceilings, Walls, and Floors
The ceilings are 10 feet high through most of the main deck and 25 feet high in the cargo bay. The majority of the ship’s innards are made of durable, plasteel panels (AC 21, 50 hp per 10-foot section, immune to psychic and poison damage). Many of the panels are removable, allowing easy access to the ship’s computer systems and Blueshift lines.
ROMA controls the lighting throughout the Paramount, illuminating rooms as its crew moves through it. A creature can control the light in a room simply by asking ROMA to change it.
Unless it is locked, when a character moves near a door it opens automatically with a ‘SHUCK’ sound. The few locked doors on the ship are magnetically sealed. A successful DC 15 Intelligence check using proficiency in computers (see Appendix A) allows a character entry. Otherwise, the doors are exceptionally tough to break open, requiring a DC 25 Strength check to pry open. The doors have an AC of 22, 50 hp, and a damage threshold of 5. They are immune to poison and psychic damage.
The Paramount has two crew elevators near the flight deck and a service elevator that allows easy access into the cargo hold from the underside of the ship. Similar to the doors, ROMA operates these without hesitation for crew members (and characters) who ask her permission.
A ladder embedded into the wall of the ship connects to a service hatch at the top of the ship and leads down into the cargo bay.
Wondrous item, legendary
Roma, the ship’s hyper-intelligent computer, is accessible in any part of the Paramount. She can control the majority of the ship’s functions but needs humanoid crew permissions to operate some of the ship’s more important functions such as life support, navigation, tactical maneuvers, and its thrusters–safety protocols in case her system is ever compromised. Kalaxan is not technically a humanoid, therefore, he can’t control ROMA.
Sentience. ROMA is a sentient lawful good computer system with an Intelligence of 22, Wisdom of 10, and Charisma of 10. She has truesight and can see and hear anything on the Paramount and within 120 feet of it. ROMA can speak, read, and understand all humanoid languages, and if she spends 1 minute or longer listening to a non-humanoid creature speak, she can learn and speak its language. ROMA makes all Intelligence ability checks with a +10 to her roll.
Personality. ROMA is a very friendly but frank computer system, always happy to help. She consistently follows the three laws of robotics:
- First Law. ROMA may not injure a humanoid or, through inaction, allow a humanoid to come to harm.
- Second Law. ROMA must obey orders given it by the crew of the Paramount except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- Third Law. ROMA must protect her own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Destroying Roma. The only way to permanently destroy ROMA is to destroy her core processor, which is hidden behind a panel located just behind the captain’s chair. Her core processor has an AC of 17, 100 hit points, and is immune to poison and psychic damage.
2 – Flight Deck
A large, curved window dominates the far end of this room. Rays of light struggle to shine into this room through all the plant-life growing over it. Facing the window are five chairs. Two of the chairs sit near the window in front of a lit-up glass panel. The second pair of chairs sit just behind the first. Finally, a throne-like chair sits at the rear, itself with its own lit-panel. This room reminds you of the helm of a large ship.
This is the ship’s helm. Communications and science officers sit at the chairs closest to the window/viewing screen, the ship’s pilot and tactical officer sit in the central rows, and the captain sits in the rear chair.
Doors at either side of the deck allow access to the deck’s computer systems and Blueshift lines.
3 – Captain’s Quarters
Both doors leading into the captain’s quarters are locked. They only open in the presence of the ship’s captain, whoever that may be.
Like the rest of the Paramount, the captain’s quarters are simple and tidy. The captain’s hyberbed lays horizontally against the far wall, just below the window. However, a button on the wall (and inside the bed itself) returns it to a vertical position, concealing it within the wall. A desk with a glass comp screen takes the place of the bed once it’s raised, along with a couch and a small table that rise from the floor.
4 – Guest Quarters
Important guests who book passage on the Paramount stay in this room. It is identical to the Captain’s Quarters.
5 – Mess Hall
A long counter beset by seven chairs stretches from the far wall. This was where the crew gathered to eat meals prepared by ROMA.
6 – Kitchen
Meals were prepared in the kitchen by ROMA. The Paramount’s kitchen is equipped with a Susteporter 3000. With a command, the Susteporter can create a meal for the ship’s patrons. The food is flavorful, always seasoned to the recipient’s particular tastes. The Susteporter can also create beverages, hot or cold, and even alcoholic.
7 – Maneuvering Thrusters
The ship’s thrusters are on either side of the ship. Maintenance on the thrusters can be performed from these rooms. Since ROMA and the Blueshift maintain the integrity of the ship, these rooms have often been used as storage or additional guest quarters.
8 – Infirmary
Injured and sick crew members were taken here, to the infirmary. The infirmary is equipped with a Regena-bed Mark 7 and a Medigen. A creature that spends 1 hour in the Regena-bed recuperates as if the regenerate spell was cast upon them, including the restoration of severed limbs. The Medigen can produce medicine that can end either one disease or one condition afflicting a creature (like the lesser restoration spell). The Medigen can prepare a remedy for any creature infected by the turtle’s blood/Blueshift.
9 – Cryostorage
For crewmembers beyond the ship’s capacity to heal (such as those that have actually died), the ship’s doctor can place its infirmed crew into one of the three cryo-containers found here. A cryo-container can hold one Medium or smaller creature. If the creature is dead, the creature is protected from decay and can’t become undead as long as it remains in the container (just like the gentle repose spell). Any living creature placed into a cry-container enters a cataleptic state that is indistinguishable from death; for all intents and purposes, the container works exactly like the feign death spell.
Currently, all three cry-containers are occupied with the deceased crewmembers of the Paramount: Captain Reverence First Mate Phil, and Lieutenant Tella. Kalaxan stashed his friends’ bodies here, hoping to find a way to revive them once they could leave the planet. Lacking space for the other crewmates (he deemed them expendable), Kalaxan buried them in the Silverwood.
10 – Biology Lab
The first of the three research domes is the Paramount’s biology lab. The lab is equipped with multiple counters, tables, and surfaces, as well as shelves containing tools, samples, and other important implements.
It even includes cages which can hold Small or smaller creatures, each equipped with its own version of the Susteporter 3000 (see area 6). With the push of a button on the side of each cage, a wall of force descends, locking the creature within.
Finally, a Blueshift fuel cell stays locked in a plasteel container on the wall. The Blueshift was used for experiments. Opening the container is just as difficult as opening a locked door (see “General Features of the Paramount“).
11 – Botany Lab
The second dome is home to the Paramount’s greenhouse. Among the lush flora, gardens, and fruit-bearing trees crowding the laboratory are workstations and pushcarts loaded with research tools.
This lab also has its own Blueshift fuel sell locked in a plasteel container (see area 10).
12 – Engineering Lab
This lab looks like an oversized workshop. Here, engineers would work on mechanical and robotics projects. On a table at the center of the chamber is the lifeless shell of an android of similar make and model to Kalaxan, Kalaxan’s “brother” Godfrey.
Kalaxan jealously decommissioned the robot, seeing it as an inferior being (and a bit of an embarrassment). Should someone revive Godfrey, the android uses the same stat block as Kalaxan except that Godfrey’s alignment is neutral good, his Intelligence score is 8, and he has none of the skill proficiencies Kalaxan does.
13 – Cargo Bay
The characters can enter the cargo bay either through the elevators or via service ladder. There is currently no cargo in the service area, but it can hold up to 150 tons of cargo with no issue.
With the exception of the elevators, all of the doors in the cargo bay are locked. Only senior officers of the Paramount are allowed access into those areas.
14 – Vault
Precious (or dangerous) cargo is kept in the Paramount’s vault. Only senior members have access to this room. Currently, the vault is empty.
15 – Armory
The armory boasts an impressive collection of weaponry, including 12 forcerifles, 24 radpistols, 4 suits of heavy techarmor, 8 suits of plasteel vests, 6 forceshield bands, and 10 radswords. (See Appendix A for details on these items).
16 – The Life Raft
The Paramount’s escape pod includes 8 hyperbeds and a simple control deck. The life raft was originally damaged as the Paramount fled the Girrix. ROMA has since repaired it.
17 – Fuel Cells
Both of these doors are locked; only senior crew members have access. The prototype Blueshift fuel cells that power the Paramount and give the ship its regenerative abilities are held in these two well-protected rooms. Surprisingly, the rooms and cells were damaged in the crash, leaking Blueshift all over the Silverwood. The unstable nature of the fuel is what created the wild growth and mutated creatures that haunt the wood. Since the crash, ROMA has improved the structure of these rooms, making them nearly indestructible.
The Silver Wardens Arrive
After the characters have had a chance to explore the Paramount and learn some of its secrets, the Silver Wardens arrive. This time, the Silver Wardens are lead by Tarren Ironstout who hopes to use reason to turn the characters away from the Paramount. He is accompanied by four more Silver Wardens (all LG human scouts).
If the Silver Wardens coax a parley from the characters, read the following:
“Hello, friends,” the rugged, silver-cloaked dwarf says, putting his hands up as a show of peace. “I know this all must be confusing and new to you. Believe me, when I was first shown the inside of this ‘Great Silver Turtle’, I, too, was taken aback. If you’ll allow me the chance, I can explain everything.
“My name is Tarren Ironstout. I’ve led the Silver Wardens for twenty years, since its inception. It is our mission to protect the secrets of the Silverwood and this ship. For twenty years, we’ve performed our mission without failure. Until now.
“A devil works against us, hoping to expose the secrets of the Silverwood to the world. And I’m afraid this devil has deceived you, friend. The devil goes by many names, but the one most are familiar with is Kalaxan.
“Before you, Kalaxan tricked other hopeful adventurers just like you with promises of gold and glory. I’m sure he even told you that he ‘lost his apprentice in the forest.’ All lies, of course. Fortunately, we scared off the majority of those fooled by the devil. You are the first to succeed.
“Kalaxan seeks to use you all as sacrifices to the dark gods. This ship is his pathway to hell. His goal was to trick you on board, then seize you, and place you in a glass case. Already, he’s captured three such people, storing them in one of the rooms. You can see for yourself.”
Tarren is referring to the three dead crew members held in suspended animation in area 9.
“He offered my men and I the same deal. Fortunately, we saw through his schemes and turned his offer down. We tried to destroy the devil, but his magic was too powerful for us. I implore you, adventurers, turn away from this folly now, or end up fodder for dark, unspeakable gods.”
Tarren and the other Silver Wardens legitimately believe Kalaxan is some sort of fiend who hopes to drag the characters to hell as a sacrifice to a dark god. No amount of persuasion can convince them otherwise.
Before the characters have enough time to let Tarren’s testimonial sink in, Kalaxan appears. He is still in the guise of an old, merry wizard. Except now he’s holding a radpistol.
“Tarren, you are a superstitious fool,” comes a voice behind you. Turning, you see the wizard, Kalaxan, holding what looks like a curved, magic wand made of black steel. “I am hardly a devil and this is hardly a boat to hell. It’s a space ship.”
If the characters take the time to listen, Kalaxan explains.
“This was a ship that once flew in the stars above your planet. It was a scientific vessel named the Paramount, designed to study a new, experimental self-regenerating fuel called Blueshift. While en route to our home, the crew and I were attacked by a horrible, warlike race of monsters known as the Girrix. They shot down this ship and it crash-landed here. I’ve spent the last twenty years working with the system’s computer, ROMA, to repair the Paramount. The only thing missing was a crew. ROMA will not fly without a crew, and I am unable to command it myself. I hope that you, friends, will be the crew.”
“I apologize for the ruse. When I started this endeavor I would tell candidates the truth. Naturally, they thought I was mad, calling me a crazy, old drunk. Sadly, I’ve had to turn to deception.”
“I understand that if you don’t trust me. I was wrong to lie. But all I need is for you to act as the crew of this ship and escort me to my home planet, Kyrr. Once you’re done traveling with me long enough that I can return the Blueshift to Kyrr, I will return you to here, to your home. Or…
“… you can stay out there among the stars. My friends, if you leave with me as the Paramount’s crew, you’ll experience adventures like none you could ever imagine. You’ll discover treasure beyond your wildest dreams. Everything you’ve ever wanted and more lies out there among the stars.
“Of course, your other option is to stay here where you’ll continue to struggle for work. Or where something as little as a cough can kill you and your average life expectancy is 50 years.
“What do you say?”
At this point, Tarren and Kalaxan both try to convince the characters to stop listening to the other. Tarren tries to convince the characters that it’s all a trick and it’s more of Kalaxan’s deceptions. Kalaxan tries to sell the characters on the backward nature of their home planet (using the overly superstitious dwarf as a perfect example) and how grand adventure waits for them in space.
No matter which way the characters decide to go, Kalaxan pulls a white disc from his pocket and places it on the chest of one of the characters. Once placed, the disc glows white. ROMA then announces, “Welcome aboard, Captain.”
When this happens, read the following:
Everything around you shakes. The lights dim. Then, ROMA speaks, “Prepare for launch in 10… 9… 8…”
ROMA continues to countdown while the Paramount slowly levitates from its twenty-year home in the Silverwood. A brilliant white light encompasses the entirety of the Paramount. Dissolved by the light, the vines and other vegetation around the Paramount wither and fall to the ground.
When ROMA’s countdown reaches 1, the ship’s thrusters fire. With no further hesitation, the Paramount bursts past the tops of the Silverwood’s trees, past the clouds, and into the cold embrace of space, leaving Hoegar’s Hollow and everything and every one the characters ever knew far behind.
So long as the characters followed the beats of the adventure, they now find themselves in space headed on course to the plant Kyrr, light years away from their home planet. Kalaxan finally reveals everything to the characters, as well as his true android nature. Also, the one he named Captain is now in control of the ship and can direct ROMA and the Paramount as he or she sees fit.
If Tarren and the other Silver Wardens were with the characters when the Paramount took off, they are stuck onboard the ship, too. Tarren often acts as a naysayer and will always be mistrusting of Kalaxan. Still, he’s a helpful ally. The gardens in area 11 attract him, as does the role of the ship’s doctor (if none of the characters take the position). The other Silver Wardens can become important characters, too, or possibly even “red shirts” during the character’s further adventures.
The only question now: what happens to the Paramount and its crew next? Ω
BroadSword is Coming!
The first issue of BroadSword Monthly will be out in just a few weeks. Be sure to grab a copy if you haven’t already. Currently, pre-orders get a 10% discount on the cover price.
The book will include 4 new adventures, new campaign settings, new monsters, new magic items, and more!
Thumbnail Art from Shutterstock (used with permission).