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Month Index: October, 1994


From:     RJPugh@???.com
Date:     Fri, 28 Oct 1994 17:36:34 -0400
Subject:  Re: Library 1/6
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Here goes (the funky 'KUVA' thingies are relics from the age when I
though about having this professionally done).

The Possessed Library or Some Forgotten Knowledge

A Sj. Scenario for some 3-6 chars of levels 4-6 (Total levels 24-
28). The party should be composed of varying classes (though the
special abilities of any particular class aren't strictly needed)
and be predominantly of good alignment. Their equipment doesn't
matter much (a ship - owned, borrowed or stolen is a necessity),
since the scenario is mainly a mystery instead of a combatzone.
Extremes should be avoided of course, the party should have at least
one magic weapon of low power, but not enough wands to outgun the
USS Missouri. The Spelljammer boxed set is needed to run the
adventure "as is", but the scenario is easily translatable to a
"landlubber" one too. Some proficiencies from the Thief / Spacefarer
manuals are referred to, but these two supplements are by no means
necessary. The scenario contains some quite gross elements - fans of
'clean' fantasy might be in for a nasty disappointment.

If you happen to be a player in a Spelljammer campaign, you ought to
quit reading now to preserve your satisfaction or learn enough
facial selfcontrol that the DM and other players will not notice
your lack of surprise.


                 Episode I: The Seeking

        The Call
        -----------

The PCs are resting and recuperating on the Rock of Bral after the
hardships of latest space erranting, when a courier arrives. Someone
known to the PCs from previous adventures (a merchant, mage, priest,
someone literate) sends the PCs a message via courier that they are
to pick up a book at the local Seeker library [handout 1] and then
deliver the book to him, he is far too busy to waste a week
travelling. Enclosed in the package with the note is a pouch full of
gold dust, that will pay another few weeks of easy living, even on a
place as expensive as Bral after counting out the costs for the trip
to his home.

Or, if you find another "hired guns" beginning to an adventure a
tiresome clichi, you can use the PCs own curiosity to lead them on
the trail. Perhaps they need a book to check on some weird symbols
(sadly non-magical) found on a fleece in a ogre lair, maybe some PC
has an axe with some weird markings or a fellow adventurer
recommends the author to a fellow literate. (Of course you can make
up any kind of story, but be prepared to create your own handouts or
wing the research somewhat).

The Seeker library is easily found, perhaps one of the PCs is
already a patron. However, only those paying the due (and able to
show that they are literate) are allowed inside.

        The Failure
        ----------------

<<<<
The library is a hulking twotowered affair, absolutely jampacked
with tomes and readers. A few seekers walk around the halls,
prepared to aid customers. The place where the "Booke of the Ogri-
Kynde" was supposed to be is easily found once you get the hang of
the archiving system. The trouble is that between Booke of the
Narwhal (my reminiscences among the Jijit folk) and Booke of the
Ravagora is nothing, not even an empty space where "your Booke"
ought to be. Checking and double-checking you finally give up. The
librarians readily tell you after minimal prompting that the book
"went missing" some five years ago. They do, however, give you a
copy of the book's information from the files to be shown to your
employer.
When you're about to leave the building you overhear pieces of a
conversation, another unsatisfied customer like you is vainly
searching for a "lost" book
<<<<

<<<<
KUVA
<<<<

[The index-card for the book is handout 2]

As the PCs are standing in front of the library, poring over the
index-card, an elf carrying a leather bookcase comes out (this is
the one whom the libraryvisiting PC heard inquiring about another
missing book).

        A fellow bibliophile
        --------------------------

Sooner or later the PCs should talk to the elf in question, he is
easily followed to his inn, an elven facility called "Solar Breeze".
He is wiry, a bit skinny even for an elf, normally dressed, and
doesn't seem to carry any weapons.

<<<<
KUVA
<<<<

Once the PCs strike a conversation with the elf they find him a
likable, if a bit nerdish fellow. His uncle (or some other close
relative, an elf tends to have scores of them) had asked him to
travel to Bral and pick up a certain book. But, alas, like the PCs,
he's let down - this unique copy was destroyed in a rain-caused
flooding merely six months ago.

He compares "his uncles note" and the index-card copy with each
other, the information is alike. He complains about being in a hurry
to get back to Alanja and tells the PCs to keep an eye out for the
book, a big reward could be theirs if "my uncle could get this
beauty". He leaves the index card on the table so the PCs know which
book they're searching for [handout-3].

Jain Oaksli: AC 5; T6; 19 hp; # At 1; D. 4-7 (dagger +3); T0 16; Al
N; D 17, I 15, Cha 15; Dagger +3, Ring of Protection +2, Bag of
Holding; Disguise, looting, appraising (books)

Jain is a travelling book thief who has worked on several dozen
worlds in about twenty spheres. He alters his looks between jobs,
and is careful to do heists only with several months interval and
several million miles distance in between. He sells all the stolen
books forward as soon as feasible, more than once he has managed to
sell the book back to its original owner with the promise that "he
calls if he sees that gentleman whom he bought the book from". He
plans his robberies carefully, never resorting to violence - murder
carries the heaviest sentence on almost every world. For self-
defense he carries a magic dagger he picked up on a very successful
heist in Souragne two years ago. Usually he works as a freelancer,
advertising his catch after the looting , but this time he's working
on a commission for an Amnish mage (Jain is originally from Realms)
trying to locate an obscure treatise on Junae geometric magic.

Jain indeed leaves Bral this evening just after the evening bells,
after changing his appearance to that of an elderly man (he thinks
the seekers are on his trail and therefore denied him the book). If
he spots the PCs still sitting in the lobby of his inn (clearly some
investigators) he escapes by climbing out of the window and
straggling down the vines, he's a cat burglar so this kind of thing
comes naturally. He does not play a part in this adventure, but
could be a nice recurring non-combatant NPC.

        Piecing Together the Story
        --------------------------------------

Now the PCs perhaps rightly feel a bit stumped, the only gains for
today's adventuring are the two index cards, whose only common
attribute is that the books were transferred from a place called
Pladic. The story behind Pladic is easily told (and recalled if
someone succeeds in Recent History check - otherwise the interested
PCs will have to spend d20 gp in drinks and bribes to discover
someone who recalls the tale.

<<<<
Pladic was a big library, founded over three hundred years ago, back
when Bral was just a lawless pirate haven. It did well, getting
customers from all over the nearest spheres. Then the sphere began
to move in the phlogiston, travelling farther from the population
centres every year. About thirty years ago the seekers decided to
combine three libraries contents into one just being renovated on
Bral - it's easy to understand why they wanted to rid themselves of
the Ironpiece outfit - having a colony of gnomes as the only
neighbors creates insomnia and precludes intelligent conversation.
<<<<

However, truth is a lot stranger than this tale spread by the
seekers. The Pladic library was by no means emptied, it was
abandoned - after nothing was heard from its inhabitants in months
and five shiploads of "troubleshooters" of differing ability (the
last group contained several veterans from Calotia and a member of
the Fireball Alliance) failed to return, the seekers wrote the
entire place off. They wanted to avoid losing face and that's why
they spinned this outrageous yarn (the astronomical facts do hold,
but the move of the sphere was by no means so drastic that would
have warranted action of this kind - a successful Navigation check
will tell the characters this, all the drifting has done is to add
at most a week to the travelling time). All books from Pladic were
supposedly brought to Bral, however, only a few (of which duplicates
exist) are found there. So far, no-one has been insistent enough to
dig through to the bottom of this lie, most information seekers were
satisfied when the librarians gave them "alternative, but just as
good in information" librams due to the wanted book's being "lost,
stolen, temporarily at another branch, being repaired/rebound, on
loan or something".

If the PCs seem reluctant to pursue "just a silly old book", remind
them of the gold dust, and their duty to return the pouch. If they
still show no inclination to peruse the mysteries of the library,
hit them with a pirate ship/space medusae/irate relatives and use
the possessed library some other time.

Vellum Jacko's
---------------------

Should they, however, continue their little investigation, a sure
place to pick up clues (in addition to their regular contacts) would
be Vellum Jacko's, a small bookstore located in the outskirts of
Midcity. The bookstore is a messier version of the seekers'
building, books are everywhere - but instead of being carefully
shelved these are stacked randomly into piles. Jacko looks just like
the PCs might expect him to, a middle-aged, bespectacled fragile-
looking whitehaired fellow.

He has, at times, wondered why some of the books he has gone to
admire at the Seekers library (they won't lead him into temptation
by giving him lending rights) are never present, but, being a trusty
soul, never pursued the matter any further. He has obtained a
catalogue containing the Pladic bibliography (the only known copy on
Bral), dated 35 years ago. He won't, however, sell his catalogue
cheaply. Bargaining begins at 400 gp, he won't accept a smaller
price than 100 gp.

The catalogue is a small book filled with industrious, clearly
legible handwriting. Should the PCs check the Bralian library for
books listed in the catalogue, they get a surprising result, only
perhaps one book in thirty is available here. The results of the
search have been summarized in handout 4. Vellum Jacko has no idea
where the Pladican books have disappeared but he warns the PCs of
the dangers of too overt investigation - the seekers are a vengeful
organization that rarely delays its quest for information.

[handout 4 - the catalogue and the marks the PCs make in it]

Vellum Jacko: AC 10; nm; 1 hp; Won't fight; Al LG; I 15, W 15;
Appraising (books+4), Craft (bookbinding), Area knowledge;

<<<<
KUVA
<<<<

Should the characters be stupid enough to rob or seriously threaten
this harmless book-fancier, he might give his friends a tip (his
friends being a particularly ill-considerate bunch of Giff
mercenaries who like Jacko's reading of ancient warstories a lot).
They will gang up on the PCs some evening, giving them a hard
beating and "confiscating" a few select items, not resorting to
weapons unless someone hurts them seriously. Anyway, the PCs gain a
lot of negative karma in everybody's eyes - all prices are doubled
for them, their dinners 'spiced' up with some exotic germs, pests
introduced to their clothing and beds etc etc. Make their life
really miserable for a week or two.

The Chat with the boss
---------------------------------

Now the characters have some definite proof that there's something
fishy going on at the Bralian Seekers branch. They can either head
straight for the library on Pladic or try to negotiate a
'recoinnaissance contract' with the Seekers. Very devious players
might even come up with an idea to blackmail the Bralian Seekers for
their failure by threatening to 'leak' the information forward and
thus discredit the organization.

If the PCs seek an audience with the head librarian, they are
granted one almost immediately. He receives the characters in his
office, at the top floor of the highest tower. At first he is very
reluctant to admit that not everything is in order in the files. If
the PCs manage to goad the information, it comes very slowly and in
small pieces (force them to roleplay through this conversation).

Should the characters make nuisances of themselves he promptly shows
them the door, otherwise he'll tell them what he thinks that
happened (a radiant dragon has settled into the library). He won't
hire them to investigate ("far too dangerous") but neither will he
discourage the party by telling them about the unsuccessful
colleagues. In case the PCs are determined to go - he'll ask them to
bring any books found to the seekers, since they are the lawful
owners. Arnam has visited Pladic but doesn't remember much of the
place (he has been to over twenty different branches).

The decision to abandon the Pladic branch library was made on
Compendium - the legendary Seeker HQ, so it is impossible to
blackmail Arnam. If the PCs make public their knowledge of the
Seekers' failure the libarians will hire some competent assassins to
take care of the party (even if the PCs have already returned from
Pladic with a full load of books).

Arnam isn't actually a sage, just an elderly sorcerer who has found
a pleasant retirement spot. He loves books passionately, but isn't
willing to send another group to their doom (or to reveal them where
Pladic exactly is nowadays). His hair went white two decades ago,
and his body has grown increasingly decrepit. Arnam is quickly
angered (though never to the point of violence) and it is very hard
to placate him.

<<<<
KUVA
<<<<

Arnam Shandra: AC10; M6; 11 hp; Won't fight; Al NG; I 16, Con 5;
Wand of magic missiles (6 charges), potion of invisibility;
Appraising (books +2), Mathematics, Planetology; Doesn't bother to
learn spells any more;

Setting off:
---------------

So - the PCs have prepared their ship for the journey. The
encounters (if any) in the Rock's sphere you have to prepare
yourself or resort to Skull & Crossbows, Space Lairs or somesuch.
The trip through the vast gas seas of phlogiston will mostly be an
uneventful one. Roll few times on the following list of short
encounters or pick the ones you like (or all of them if the players
have ticked you off considerably).

How long the journey to the Slubiana sphere takes is dependent on
the navigator's skill roll (this is a house rule, as I find the "10-
100 days to any sphere" rule silly) and the tiny sphere's distance
from the PCs starting point.


d8      Result
1       A wreck is seen in the distance, a small intact-looking
ship spinning slowly. A closer look reveals it to be a Mosquito. The
jammer is still sitting on his chair, a grinning skeleton in robes.
Careful searching reveals his ring, a bloated gold monstrosity
hanging loose in his forefinger. He carries a dagger, nonmagical
like his staff lying on the floor. Spellbooks won't be found, the
fellow was a priest of Thamlin - an obscure druidic god on Ssherma.
        The ring is magical, and doesn't show any alignment. It is
an Orbus Ring (see details at the end of the adventure), but its effects
probably will be
discovered later.


2       A discolored and stiffened giff drifting in the ocean of
gas bumps against the ship. Tolompo, a brevetted sergeant fell off
his ship merely two weeks ago when Emerald Dream fought against the
Neogi. A successful INT-check means that the character remembers
that ED is a free-lance Manowar fighting against mindflayer raiders
in Theiaspace.
        Tolompo is very grateful for his rescue "tho' this be the
third time - last time me was rescued in just two DAYS" and will
work for free until the ship "lands in a port where a honest
hippohead can find worthier employers". Most of his quite large
weapon collection was left in ED (he left his armor behind too), but
he still carries his shortsword (a bastard sword for normal folks)
and a starwheel pistol with enough powder for ten shots. Tolompo is
aware of the effects of phlogiston and won't fire his pistol in any
subsequent battles there.
<<<<
KUVA
<<<<
        Tolompo: AC 6; HD 4+4; hp 27; #AT 1 weapon; d8+7 or d4; LN

3       A ship is sighted in the mists. It approaches boldly - a
Shou dragonship bearing war colors. It is a special envoy from home
country, carrying dire news - a cousin of the emperor has been
kidnapped by persons/things unknown. The only clues left by the
assailants were a sizable depression on a nearby beach - making
suspicions of skyborne nappers more than a little credible.
        The easterners signal their desire to check out the ship -
which, if given half a chance, they do with great enthusiasm. They
examine the ship carefully, but say nothing of what they're looking
for - a successful INT-roll gives an idea that they're searching for
something large. Should the PCs be less than courteous their ship
will either get attacked or "marked for a later date". If they won't
let the Shou aboard at all (perhaps they DO carry something
contraband) the captain will try to ambush the PCs' ship during the
"night" watch. They avoid a full-scale boarding combat, preferring
to establish themselves on the PCs ship and then begin negotiations.
Their demands are simple - the right to search the ship.

        Shou marines: AC 5; F4; hp 32; #AT 3/2 weapon; D. 3-12
(katana); LG
        Shou captain: AC -1; F12; hp 89; #AT 7/2 weapon; D 8-17
(katana +3 + STR); LG
<<<<
KUVA
<<<<
        Shou Sohei: AC 8; C6; hp 28; #AT 1 weapon; D. 3-8 (club +
STR); LG; Clw (x3), Bless, Hold Person (x3), Neutralize Poison (x2);

4       Again a ship is seen - it quickly alters its course to meet
the PCs. A tyrant-scout, smaller than the regular beholder craft -
but this one seems to be unusually fast. It indeed does pack an
overload of orbi - giving it a SR of 6. The ship is filled to the
brim with beholders, the PCs have entire Wilthan clan against them.
The clan lost their two full tyrants in battle against a celestial
dragon a week ago and they're looking for a bigger craft (even if it
isn't beholderish in shape).
        The clan members left from the attacks on the dragon are
far from the fiercest and if the PCs get one or two good hits they
will fly off. Should the battle lead to close combat the PCs are at
a considerable advantage due to the curious placement of the
beholders' eyes - the three most dangerous (death, disintegrate,
XXXXXXXX) point downwards and are of use only against fallen
characters.

        Beholder: AC xxxx

   5    The PCs have a misfortune of flying through a Lumineaux as
they float on the gassy seas.

        Lumineaux: AC xxxx

6       Three flowfiends emerge from the gases - swimming directly
at the PCs ship. The PCs can get off one shot from any large weapons
before the hulking humanoids land on the deck. Or they can avoid
them with a slight alteration in course (no delay to traveltime).
The group comprises of two large monsters and one quite small -
easily recognizable as a mutated halfling.
<<<
Battle tactics
<<<
        Flowfiends:

        The explanation of the fiends' "trial by fire" in MC is
just plain silly, how on earth could these beings light a fire
without endangering themselves. Also, the artist has "forgotten" to
include the 3rd and fourth arm for the beasties. All in all a very
shoddy monster description.

7       The lookout in the crow's nest (or equivalent) warns the
crew of something "whitish and round" ahead. An approach or a look
with a telescope reveals the object to be a large cylindrical egg,
having a diameter of 3' along the longer axis. The egg has a porous
texture comparable to a common hen's egg, and  is completely smooth
and no sounds can be heard from within.
        Which creature laid this egg is left for the GM to decide -
a space drake, or one of its' bigger cousins, a phlog-stork, puffer,
there's a multitude of possibilities. Perhaps it isn't an egg after
all but a magical mine or some sort of storage container. Even more
weird would be if it was a spaceship for some kind of miniature
folk.

8       A humming noise is heard, slowly becoming louder and louder
as the PCs travel on the ether-river. Soon the source is revealed, a
large metal star, missing one spindle.   A beacon, somewhat detailed
in Lost Ships.
        As the PCs ship comes near the beacon, the pitch of the
noise begins to vary - quickly it grows to a nightmarish cacophony,
forcing the PCs to stopper their ears or resort to silence-spells.
Their ship begins to jolt as the crewmembers try to cover their
ears. Unless they are given some protection the crew is unable to
steer the ship toward the star (a cruel captain could use his
authority to force the crew to work (a sufficient morale check will
make them toil, but subsequently their morale is lowered by 2)).
        The star is quite large, a spindle is some twenty feet in
length and the gaping hole has a diameter of four feet. Upon closing
on the star it is revealed to have a hollow center, with smaller
tunnels leading to the other arms.
        The PCs cannot cut piecs of the beacon-metal, and in
actuality, do anything with the star-shape but look at it
inquisitively. However, if they tell anyone about the star, it's
grounds for a reward plus perhaps a further mission to look for the
thing that managed to harm an invincible beacon.

                 Epidode 2: The finding

        The Arrival
        ---------------

Slubiana, the sphere containing the library is very small, so small
in fact than even outside a curvature in the crystal wall is easily
noticed. The sphere has spontaneous portals, but most likely the PCs
are in a hurry and they will create a portal of their own.

Inside, the sphere seems pretty much a standard one. There's a
triple fireworld in the center, composed of three varyingly orange-
red tiny spheres. Like most of the other spheres, this too has
pseudo-stars on the inside of the sphere itself. In this sphere they
are like the ones in Realmspace - gates to the plane of radiance.
The sphere is thought to be barren when it comes to space-creatures,
and there are no colonies here.

The only planet in the system, Slubia, is reached with only some
three days of travel. All spelljammers' mapbooks note Slubia as a
"world particularly unfit even for a casual visit". Most think it is
an earthworld, even though the wetness is probably unequalled
everywhere. It is a gigantic swamp, where searching for firm land is
best described as futile. There are no known sentient inhabitants,
the most easily discovered animals are gnats and mosquitos. The
planet is a dead end, after scores of insect bites the PCs will
probably come to the same conclusion. There is a deserted human
colony on the planet, but the PCs won't be able to discover it until
they get its' coordinates from the library.

Pladic is a moon orbiting Slubia on a tight orbit (a revolution
takes just 12 days). It's a smooth ballworld, lacking any mountains,
rivers or vegetation - there is a decent atmosphere, however. No
known inhabitants either, probably this is one of the places where
life is possible but it never got a headstart. Very hard ground, not
marred by any craters. In some places the ground is smooth to the
point of being glasslike in composition. The only visible feature on
the planet is a large depression, on the edge of which the library
is built.

[handout 5 - Map of the sphere]



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