D&D 3 (A) - The Vessel of Stars.pdf

1 The Vessel of stars CREDITS D esi gn : R obert H olzm ei er E di ti n g: G wen dolyn K estrel Web Producti on : Sue C ook Web D evelopm en t M ark Ji n dra C artograph y: I an M alcom son G raph i c D esi gn : Sean G len n , C yn th i a Fli ege B ased on th e ori gi n al D U N G E O N S & D R AG O N S gam e by E . G ary G ygax an d D ave Arn eson . INTRODUCTION T h e Vessel of Stars i s a D U N G E O N & D R AG O N ® adven - ture sui table for four 4th -level player ch aracters. P
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  1 TheVesselof stars CREDITS Design: Robert HolzmeierEditing: Gwendolyn KestrelWeb Production: Sue CookWeb DevelopmentMark JindraCartography: Ian MalcomsonGraphic Design: Sean Glenn, Cynthia FliegeBased on the srcinal D UNGEONS & D RAGONS game byE. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. INTRODUCTION The Vessel of Stars is a D UNGEON & D RAGON  ®adven-ture suitable for four 4th-level player characters. Playercharacters find themselves escorting a child monarchto a mysterious location in an area stalked by extrapla-nar horrors, alien assassins, and secret forces. Two unal-lied groups seek the queen. One wishes to kill her. Theother wants to capture her alive. The player charactersare her only defense.Enc   o   unte   r Le   ve   ls: The Vessel of Stars also accommo-dates parties of more than four 4 th -level players. Playercharacters (PCs) who survive the entire adventureshould advance through 5th level to 6th level beforethe finale. The adventure can handle parties beginningat 5th and possibly even 6th level, if the appropriatetime is taken to make the encounters herein more chal-lenging. This can be accomplished by accelerating thefrequency of random encounters, opting for creatureswith a higher Challenge Rating (CR), increasing thenumber of opponents per encounter or the advancingthe class level and/or hit dice (HD) of the adventure’sopponents to provide heroic obstacles appropriate tothe party. As you increase the toughness of the crea-tures, make comparable increases in experience pointsand treasure. PREPARATION You, the Dungeon Master®(DM), should have a copyof the Player’s Handbook  and the D  UNGEON  M  ASTER  ’  S  Guide  . A copy of the Monster Manual is also extremelyuseful.Text that appears in the shaded boxes is player infor-mation, which you should read aloud or paraphrase tothe players when appropriate. Sidebars contain impor-tant information to the DM. More often than not, DMscan find abbreviated monster statistics with eachencounter. Full monster statistics appear in alphabeti-cal order in the appendix. One of the responsibilities ofthe DM is to review these statistics before the gamestarts so as to refresh his or her memory of the moredistinctive characteristics of the creatures.Individual encounters possess an overall rating calledthe encounter level (EL), if appropriate. The concept ofthe encounter level is important only as a point ofinformation, allowing you to gauge the strength of aparticular encounter at a glance, not to assign experi-ence. To calculate experience for a given encounter,  2 refer to the CR provided for each monster in the appen-dix. Cross-reference the CR of a given monster with theparty’s average character level on the Single MonsterChallenge Rating table ( D  UNGEON  M  ASTER  ’  S  Guide, Chapter 7), then multiply that number by the numberof monsters dealt with by the PCs for total experienceaward. The total experience award is then divided bythe numbers of PCs (and possibly NPC party members)who were present at the beginning of the encounter.Before the games begins, DMs may wish to review therules on vision and light in Chapter 9 of the Player’s Handbook  , reread the section on setting up the gamein the D  UNGEON  M  ASTER  ’  S  Guide  , and review thecombat rules. BACKGROUND The PCs are not initially privy to the backgroundinformation, but they may learn it during the adven-ture.This adventure revolves around the PCs escorting abeleaguered child monarch on the last leg of her flightfrom the players’ world. The girl, named Satura, is adeva, called the Vessel of Stars by her Peloran allies.Many pursue the young Emprix, and they drive muchof the action. The vrill, wild ox-like humanoids from a distantdimension, seek to prevent the young Satura fromreturning to her dimension. The vrill comprised thebulk of the dimensional skimmer’s crew, conscriptswho were forced into servitude by the more powerfuldevas. They feel that without the deva Emprix, theother devas will eventually abandon the plane, thusfreeing the vrill.Also vying for the Emprix is an unscrupulous groupof wizards and sages, the Order of Unknown Truths.The brilliant minds of the order have deduced muchabout the deva and the vrill rebels who seek to stop her.They have devised plans to thwart both the vrill andthe deva, including hiring a band of mercenaries andsending three of their own after the prizes.Recently, in the city of Stern, Satura with her support-ers, the vrill, and the Order of Unknown Truths col-lided. In a grand battle, many died. The Order failed toaccount for the vrill’s resistance to charms, and one ofthe leaders, Seril, almost died. The deva escaped withmerely one ragged cleric named Raz. The Vessel hasarrived in Horvath, anxious to be gone of this violentworld. She seeks a dimensional skimmer, also knownas the Vessel of Stars, to take her home. Though Saturanears her goal, the vrill upstarts and the ruthless magesfollow close on her heels.The adventure begins here. SYNOPSIS The Vessel of Stars is both a flight- and site-basedadventure. Player characters find themselves escortinga child monarch to a mysterious location in an areastalked by extraplanar horrors, alien assassins, andsecret forces. Horvath  : The PCs begin in the large town of Horvath,a town mostly of humans and which the vrill avoid dueto their alien appearance. Although the adventure isdesigned to push the players forward to the BlightedHills, unfortunate circumstances or misdirection maylead the party back to town to recuperate and replenishsupplies. Vrill  : The vrill have one goal from which they cannotbe dissuaded short of powerful magical influence: pre-vent the deva Emprix from escaping. They are not pow-erful enough to make it into the bowels of the skim-mer, but they seek to block the young deva fromreaching it. They are intent upon killing the child aswell as anyone who seeks to stop them. Note: Eachtime the party returns to Horvath, the likelihood ofencountering hostile vrill patrols increases. See theDM’s Overviews Into the Wood and The Blighted Hills  for details on random encounters. Mercenaries  : Not just blood-thirsty bandits, Tallon’sCrew are clever professionals commissioned by theOrder of Unknown Truths to capture the child andsecure the site for their agents’ arrival. The mercenaries’spies infiltrated Horvath and now the group waits toambush the party and take the girl. They will try to takeher without fatalities in the woods and will pursue thecharacters doggedly until they have Satura. As a contin-gency, the group has taken control of the Waystation, atower rest stop and temple to Fharlanghn. They willtake the girl here for holding, or surprise the partyshould they stop there to recuperate. The Forest  : A dense wood shielding the trading postfrom the Blighted Hills to the north and east, thisunnamed forest is where the PCs are most likely toloose Satura to the mercenary ambush.  3 The Waystation  : This three-storied tower is situatedon the Upper Horvath Road, just on the outskirts of theforest. Run as a rest stop for weary travelers, theWaystation has fallen out of control of its Fharlanghnproprietors and into the hands of Tallon’s Crew. The Blighted Hills  : Eventually, the character willarrive at these hills. The stranded dimensional skim-mer, the Vessel of Stars waits buried beneath. The riftcaused by the skimmer’s crash has collapsed, but thefractures still permeate the barriers between realitieshere, so the area crawls with outsiders and other foulcreatures. The vrill, falling back after the disaster inStern, confront the party here, just in sight of Satura’sgoal. The Vessel of Stars  : The climax of the adventureoccurs within the ruined Vessel of Stars. There, the PCslearn the truth of the deva’s and vrill’s relationship.They also have their final confrontation with the Order.The heroes must decide: Should they block theEmprix’s escape, risking her life and interfering withanother dimension’s destiny or shall they help her fleeand thwart both the Order and the vrill rebels? CHARACTER HOOKS Player characters can find Horvath, the Blighted Hillsand its hidden secret in any number of campaign set-tings. Refer to the Overland Map for a view of the area,including the forest and tower. The PCs can be drawninto the adventure via the following methods (severalof which work well together). Relate the informationimmediately below to the players as necessary to getthem interested in taking up the adventure of escortingthe mysterious child. The key element is to get the PCsto agree to escort the young “girl.” She is accompaniedby an earnest, ragged cleric of Pelor, named Raz whocame to her aid in Stern. ã S   imple Ad   ve   nturing:You are intrepid adventurers,come to the town of Horvath to investigate thenearby Blighted Hills. Rumors have it that hideouscreatures not of this world haunt the abandonedhills. Your nose for adventure has led you here, aplace ripe for discovery, challenge and, hopefully,treasure. ã Co   ntra   cte   d:Having recently arrived in Horvath,you are surprised when a cleric of Pelor requestsyour presence at the local temple. He wishes tohire you to escort a young initiate and holy relic toan undisclosed location within the Blighted Hills.If pressed, the old cleric states that task willresolve the intrusion by otherworldly creatures inthe area. The church is prepared to pay each PC500gp to complete the task and ensure the relic’sarrival at its destination. He intimates, that if thecharacters can offer proof that the relic fulfilled itsmission, the church is willing to be more gener-ous. ã Fate:You are dining in the Five Rings Inn & Tavern,when two terribly road-worn initiates of Pelorenter. One is but a child and the other, hardlymore than that, is gravely wounded. The child, ayoung girl of unusual carriage, approaches you,saying, “We are in need of your protection. Helpus. Take us to our temple here.” ã S   olv   ing a Myste   ry:Two weary, half-dead childrenarrive in town wearing the robes of the sun god,Pelor. The local priests suddenly have a means ofrestoring the Blighted Hills. And Horvath,normally bold and bustling, seems subdued andtense. There’s a connection between these chil-dren, the priest’s relic and those cursed hills. Andit’s one you can’t resist uncovering. KNOWLEDGE GAINEDIN HORVATH PCs can discover the following information eitherthrough a Gather Information check, where they spendsome time in the local tavern (DC 10), or via roleplaying: ã If they’re looking to go into the hills, the quickestand least dangerous route is the Upper HorvathRoad leading north past the Waystation andbranching away near the Blighted Hills. ã The problem with strange creatures appearing inwhat is now called the Blighted Hills began aboutten years ago, after an intense winter marked byeerie lights from the area. ã Bandits driven out of the hills by the encroachingmonsters prowl the forests. ã The Waystation is a safe and refreshing stop justnorth of the forest. The gracious clerics ofFharlanghn provide food, lodging, care and even afine song on frequent occasion. Their hospitalityfar exceeds the modest donation they request forthe church.  4 ã Kata, the barmaid, tells the player characters thatreports have come from Stern of a battle involvingsmall, horned creatures of great ferocity. An agedPeloran cleric and his dwarf companion were seri-ously wounded and still recovering. ã Kata also mentions that Horvath, where adventur-ers are not uncommon, has seen a number of newfaces in recent days. ã Grook Puttersmith, the gnome proprietor andbarkeep of the Five Rings Inn & Tavern, canconfirm that unusual number of new faces havebeen showing up at the bar. ã If asked, tavern guests will also confirm the influxof unfamiliar faces. They’ll mention that withinthe past six months, more experienced, perhapseven hardened, brethren have replaced most ofPelor’s caring and fresh-faced priests. Only thetown’s leading priest remains, the other local cler-ics are said to be studying beyond Stern. ã If the PCs mention to anyone that their informa-tion came from Kata, they learn that the vivaciousbarmaid has resided in Horvath for less than amonth. MARCHING ORDER  Ask the players to tell you in what order their charac-ters are generally walking down paths and corridors.This information lets you know where each charactersis with respect to each other, which is important if thePCs are suddenly attacked or if you need to determinewho walks into a trap first.  THE TOWN OF HORVATH AND ENVIRONS The following numbered entries refer to the locationsnoted on the maps. Horvath Once the player characters have left Horvath, theadventure truly begins. But, they may wander throughtown for various reasons. Here is a quick rundown ofthe town’s major sections: ã S   outh G   a   te    /F   ive Rings Inn & Ta   vern:Stern WayRoad leads south and east from the town’s fortifiedsouthern entrance. Just inside the protective wallsof Horvath is a warm and comfortable establish-ment, the Five Rings Inn & Tavern. Here the PCscan gather information and encounter theowner/barkeep, Grook, and his comely barmaid,Kata. See the appendix for Kata’s entry under NPCs. ã S   hipya   rds    /Ma   rket S   qua   re   s   :Along Horvath’s westside are its port and shipyards. Should the charac-ters attempt to charter a ship, they will find all thedocked vessels to be otherwise engaged. Just eastof the shipyards and extending to Horvath’s east-ern wall are shops and marketplaces where thePCs can replenish their supplies, if needed. T   h   e L   a   r   g   e To   w   n o   f Ho   r   v   a   t   h The community closest to the hidden ship is alarge, coastal town called Horvath (or a name moreappropriate to the DM’s campaign). The large townfollows the rules noted for a town of its size in the D  UNGEON   M  ASTER  ’  S  Guide  in Chapter 4.Horvath (large town):Conventional; AL NG;3,000gp limit; Assets 120,000gp; Population:approximately 2,500; Isolated (human 96%, halfling2%, elf 1%, other races 1%). Authority Figures:  Mayor Shel Maznoble, femalehuman Ari7. Important Characters:  Father Poltimm, malehuman Clr9 (Pelor/Good-Healing); Norin, femalehuman Clr5 (Pelor/Sun-Strength); Raz, male humanSor2/Clr3 (Boccob/Magic-Trickery) [Note:Raz is only  posing as a cleric of Pelor, but don’t tell theplayers this. Let them find out for themselves.];Grook Puttersmith, male gnome Com9 (owner/bar-keep, Fine Rings Inn & Tavern); Kata, female humanSor2/Rog3 (barmaid) [Note:Kata is a spy forTallon’s Crew. Don’t tell the players this. Let themfind out for themselves.]; Ergo, male dwarf Exp12(blacksmith); Munns, male human Ari3 (shipwar-den); Ilsa, female human Com9 (sundries mer-chant); Berast, male human Com18 (merchant);Bolm, male human War10 (constable); Dessi, Mig,Jode, and Yris, male and female humans War5(deputies). Others:  Town guards, War2 (33); Elite, Ari1 (3);Merchants, Com4 (4); Bureaucrats, Com2 (8);Craftsmen, Exp6 (2); Ship Captains, Exp3 (4);Sailors, Exp1 (8); Peloran Priests, Ftr1/Clr2 (4);Peloran Initiates, Clr1 (8); Oracle, Adp3 (1),Acolytes, Adp1 (2); Citizens, workers, farmers, deck-hands, etc., Com1 (2,408).
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