Thursday, March 12, 2015

Tomb of the Architect, Chapter 1

What follows is a write-up of my group's playtest of the new game I'm working on: Exiled in Eris.

I am running them through the introductory adventure I'm including with the game. I want to gauge the difficulty of my encounters against real players. Not to mention some final playtesting and fine tuning of the rules.

"The Tomb of the Architect"

The team:


Theris, a clean-cut by-the-book Celestial Guardian who's only an Artifact Hunter so he can study the ruins of the past and have an opportunity to rescue artifacts that might otherwise be stolen and sold on the black market. He carries a shield made of Starmetal.

Pi 2-50 

Pi 2-50's full name is 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510. Pi 2-50’s body is painted a azure blue with light gold joints He has two optic units, one with a larger targeting system that snaps into place when he is firing his rifle. He has two sensor booms for ‘ears’ that fold down against his head when he puts his heavy helmet on (thus the penalty to Awareness). His helmet is modified with a single sensor bar that connects to his internal targeting systems when worn. He also has a “mouth” that is pixilated and moves when he talks and moving eyebrows that help him to have “realistic emotional facial features”.

He joined the resistance against the empire as an Aerine Ranger. While with the humanoids in the resistance, he took to wearing clothes to fit in. Pi currently wears brown ballistic mesh pants and a silver ballistic mesh shirt and his feet are painted to look like boots. He wears gloves as well and a bandana on his head to “keep the sweat out of his eyes”. At least that’s what the others in his platoon wore them for. Of course, he also wears his on the outside of his helmet. He also still wears his long coat that’s kind of brown.


Jip-Jip is a scrawny Tintazi from the caverns under Eris. Jip-Jip likes to nest, and fills it with the softest things he can find. In his native caves, the softest things you can find are lichen and they are scratchy. He also likes bright colors.

There is a perfectly valid reason for why Jip-Jip was exiled from his native homeland, leaving friends and family behind, to be revealed at a later date.

Theris found Jip-Jip out in the desert alone and near death. He rescued the wretched creature and nursed him back to health. Today, Jip-Jip is fiercely loyal to Theris.

Jip-Jip has hunched, wrinkly, dark brown/olive reptilian skin with scales over most of his body except hands, feet, and face.

He has 1 blue eye and 1 brown eye, slight webbing between the fingers and toes, and always wears a scarf.

Rage Bourne 

Rage Bourne is a scruffy artifact hunter from one of the rural villages on the edge of the toxic jungle. He is a treasure hunter seeking fame and glory.

They work together as a team of artifact hunters. They operate out of the free city of Acik-Sehir. Their job is to retrieve lost treasures and artifacts before they are confiscated by the Vrildarian Empire.

They were hired by a wealthy Norkarian collector of black market antiquities named Karris Wati to check out a newly discovered ruin complex 200 miles north west of Acik-Sehir. They had two days to get there and loot it before an Imperial air-ship patrol returned and headed there to check it out. Karris took the liberty of hiring an air-skiff and a pilot/observer, a factotum named Glorin, to take them there. The observer's job was to make sure they didn't make off with any loot.

Thee team was offered 2000 Aus (gold coins) each plus 10 percent of the proceeds of the sale for the job, which they accepted.

It was an eight-hour ride to the ruins, skimming a few dozen feet above the desert sands. About 30 minutes out, Pi 2-50 spotted a tail. It was another air skiff, faster than theirs, closing fast. It had what looked like ne'er-do-well types and they were approaching the team's skiff on an intercept course. Pi 2-50 took a few shots at them with his rifle. They veered away, Pi 2-50 took one more shot at the pilot of the other skiff and hit him in the head. The pilot collapsed and the skiff wobbled but one of the other guys took over and they flew off in a different direction and eventually they were out of sight.

This is where I learned I didn't address ammo in my game.

The team arrived at the ruins.
The Tomb Compound

 ​There were six girah draft lizards corralled inside the wall of the compound. Glorin landed the air-skiff about 500 feet away. There was a loud clanging and the girah were diven out of the gate and scattered.
The team cautiously entered the ancient gates and were attacked by two geks, two droks, and two trained devil-dogs.

Devil Wolf
The savages were defeated.

I learned that Drok armor was too damn high, and that my original encounter, as written, had too many monsters for the first encounter (6 geks, 4 droks, and 4 devil dogs).

Then the team climbed to the top of the tallest ziggurat, found an entrance, and a stairway so steep, with stairs that were so shallow, it may as well have been a 150' deep shaft.

This was literally how steep it was:
When I wrote this encounter, I intended it to be a test of preparedness. Did you bring a rope and pitons? No problem. If not, start climbing down. If you fail, take some damage.
Here is where I learned my mistake as, since the longest rope anyone had was 50', everyone tumbled down to what would have been their gruesome but comically slapstick deaths had I run it as written.
So I've re-written that challenge.

At the bottom, they found a foyer with a large cracked crystal lens in the ceiling. A ghostly apparition, like a hologram of a banshee, emerged from the lens, screeched, and tried to fly into Theris. Pi 2-50 quickly fired at the lens and destroyed it, destroying the aya stored in it.

Theris tried to open the metal doors. They were electrified but he managed to avoid the damage.

Reactions are my version of saving throws.

The team dickered about how to defeat the doors for like 30 minutes. Finally someone took a chance and tried to pick the lock. They fumbled and broke Jeep Jeep's thieve's tools. However, they learned that the door had only one charge and was no longer electrified.

The team entered a large gallery with marble amphorae filled with the cremated ashes of favorite servants and concubines. They took the time to take those back upstairs before they got broke (very wise). They tried another door with no handle but with a key slot. It had the utilitarian outline of a cyberdroid on it. It did not open.

They tried another door. It led to a corridor that branched left and right. They went left and found a chamber with a miniature city built in a recessed floor. The city was unknown to any of them but looked like this (but not ruined):
Lost City, only not ruined

​As you can see, there's a large temple complex in the center. Pi 2-50 lifted the temple complex, revealing a scale model of an underground tunnel complex that looks like this:

Vault, you say? Inside the vault, where the little grey box with the 7 is, was a small floating grey metal marble hovering over a box the size of a human finger. Inside the box was a flat crystalline rectangle with glowing edges. A key?

They went to the other corridor, opened a door, and found a round room that was filled with dirt. It looked like some kind of nest. Perhaps a nest for those six dog-sized wrinkled cave rats and their dozens of wriggling sausage-sized pups!
Wrinkled Cave Rat

Along with that disgusting image were the four semi-translucent cat-sized kolops larvae that were obviously meant to be dinner for this handsome family.

To be continued!

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