12.5 – The Volturnus Saga: Session 1 through 12 Review
The campaign started on New Pale (Truane’s Star System, Frontier), a world recovering from war of extreme racial tension between pro-human supremacists and a multicultural military state.
Hired by a secret coalition of mega-corporations along with the planetary government of Truane’s Star, the job was to follow the trail a missing mission team. Their mission was to investigate a recently discovered planet deep in the Xagyg Dust nebula. The party was to board the exploration survery ship Serena Dawn that had an official mission to map out more of the nebula (to hide it from the UPF). In truth, they were to follow (and perhaps find) the previous mission team via a secret route. Along with finding the missing crew, the party was to complete their mission – survey the system and in particular the one habitable planet, named Volturnus.
The party soon learned that there is a mystery and powerful crime faction – named the Star Devils – that seems to want this mission to fail, lead by a mysterious figure, codenamed Diablo. Rumored connections between this group and the pro-human faction on New Pale – HUSPS – were never substantiated but there are suspicions.
The first challenge to the journey was navigating the the Xagyg Dust Nebula. Many studies of this strange anomaly have been done but penetration this deep have proven difficult. Only the Sathar’s were able to do it once, igniting the Sathar War several decades ago. They boarded a survey transport Serena Dawn and en route, signs of a sabotage plot within the crew lead the party to battle with two Star Devil agents. Fortunately, the party was able to prevent the sabotage. On their journey, they also confirmed rumors of a kraken-like creature living in the Nebula as well as mysterious neutron-star like objects.
Arriving in system, the first thing the Serena Dawn discovered is a strange crystalline structure that turned out to be a space station built by a previous civilization that apparently existed here. Investigating the station further, the following intelligence was gathered:
- The previous civilization was a race called the Eorna – very tall reptilian-like creatures (see below).
- The Eorna were invaded a thousand years ago by the Sathar and apparently were wiped out.
- Their homeworld Volturnus was devastated by Sathar weapons.
- The station technology indicated the Eorna had a deep understanding of psionics and crystal technology – far more advanced than that of the Frontier.
On the station, the rescued a Yazirian that turned out to be a former member of the pirates who was left behind. She had sealed herself in a Eorna tech stasis pod and was suffering from amnesia.
While the party was on the station, Star Devil pirates attacked the Serena Dawn. The crew and ship were lost. The only thing they had was the ship’s shuttle with a minimal amount of fuel. Fortunately, the pirate ship was also disabled. The party took the shuttle and headed to the only refuge they had – the surface of the planet Volturnus.
Landing close the the previous mission’s landing site, they found evidence of their presence – an abandoned camp with six shacks outfitted for various purposes incluing science, medical, living quarters and supplies. Unfortunately most of the supplies were taken or destroyed. The previous crew was nowhere to be found.
Their crash apparently drew some attention, because more pirates attacked from jetcopters. Dispatching them fairly quickly, the group was able to conclude that there is already a Star Devil presence on this planet and they do not mean the party well. These pirates were just a small part of a larger group that have considerable influence. The jetcopters clued them in that there was some kind of base nearby, perhaps with a way to get off the planet.
The psychic with in the party noticed that there was a constant oppressive psionic energy field in the air. It was constantly trying to get him and everyone else to submit. It concerned him that it could affect everyone over time.
The Ruins and the Ul-Mor
Journeying further into the desert in the direction of where the jetcopters had come, they discovered many indigenous things – giant sand worms and sand sharks, herds of two-legged lopers and killer trees. It was like the world was designed to kill anything not from there. Finding water and food was challenging. With the meager survival supplies they had, the journey drew more and more difficult. Along the way, they discovered ruins of an ancient city made of crystal – presumably an Eorna city. In the ruins, they encountered a few things that illustrated the nature of this world. For example, either by nature or as a result of war, the crystal deposits were sprouting all over the planet in large and small outcroppings. Some outcroppings – rogue crystals – seemed to have a mind of their own as they attacked anything that came close with energy bursts.
By this time, water had become an issue. The desert was endless. So when they heard water trickling at the bottom of a vast hole in one ruined crystalline building, they jumped at it. At the bottom of this hole, they found more than just water. A seething psionic entity of pain, death and fury – a possessor – was trapped in the tunnels underneath the city. Born of the destruction of this city and the deaths of millions of Eorna, their dying psionic essences must have been collected by the crystals and formed a living psionic being seeking a host.
Once past the entity, they found two more buildings – one containing what appeared to be a crystalline supercomputer that might have run the city and the other was apparently a warehouse of crystalline-based robots. The party split up between the two. Something done in the first building awakened the robots in the other building, who were apparently still stuck in war mode.
Within this supercomputer were a few records of what happened during the war. The following was gathered from the supercomputer:
- Invasion – The records confirmed that the Sathars were the invaders one thousand year ago and they assaulted the planet with devastating weapons.
- The Templars – The records documented the beginning of the war up to a single point – The arrival of the Templars. Records of the Templars described them as an illuminati-like myth of power psions that control major parts of Eorna society. Apparently they revealed themselves to try and save the Eorna homeworld.
- The Sky Was Different – Images from the records showed that the sky was different at that time, as if the nebula was not present at the time of the recordings.
Resting the night outside the ruins, the party awoke to the site of being surrounded by a new alien race – the Ul-Mor.
The Ul-Mor were (apparently) indigenous species of cephalopods that live in the desert. They were all at some level of another, psionically talented. Their culture was nomadic and very ritual based. They owned the desert.
By this time, it had become the party’s mission to get to the outpost where they hoped to find at least some supplies and vehicles to acquire from the Star Devils. However, they had no intelligence on where the outpost was or exactly how to get there. Indigenous intelligent lifeforms may be a great help in gathering that intelligence. Making friends with the Ul-Mor became a priority.
In order for them to trust the party, the Ul-Mor had several rituals that the party had to go through. These eventually included the Ritual of Truth, the Game of Grabbing Shark-Spikes and finally the Ritual of Cleansing. The Ul-mor proved to be useful but also a hindrance at the same times. The following was learned during the interaction with the Ul-Mor
- The Pirates – The Ul-Mor considered the newcomers as enemies, as they hunt the Ul-Mor down regularly. As part of their rituals, the party had to prove they were not with the newcomers.
- The Backdoor – The Ul-Mor explained they had information on a secret backdoor to the outpost that the party could use but were not completely forthcoming on its location or nature. The outpost resided on a cliff that is very hard to access without flying machines, and it resides in some ancient ruins that the Ul-mor deems sacred.
- Other Races – The Ul-mor indicated there are other races on this world – the Kurabanda and the Edestekai.
- The Kurabanda were furred savages living in the jungles to the north.
- The Edestekai are few but serve some kind of god-figure and guide the select few Ul-Mor to oneness
- Ancient Weapon – On the final ritual – Ritual of Cleansing – the group discovered yet another Eorna ruin. It appeared to be the remains of a planetary defense system utilizing hundreds of large mountain-sized crystalline nodes along the surface of the planet. This apparently was in response to the on-coming invasion of the Sathar that eventually befell them. Unfortunately it was not completed in time.
Finding information about the Backdoor took some work. The final ritual – the Ritual of Cleansing – was the last step to get that information. The party was not too keen on the Ritual of Cleansing, so they got the location through other means and escaped from the Ul-Mor as soon as they could. Enroute to the location, the party was followed by a mysterious cloaked figure. This figured turned out to be a surviving Eorna who was a very powerful psion. The creature warned the party not to toy with the crystal technology. He vanished quickly after that.
The Back Gate
The Back Gate was actually an ancient teleportation gate embedded in the side of a mountain. And it was guarded but two immense creatures called Quickdeaths.
Dispatching the quickdeaths (and their much larger mother), the party finagled their way into opening the gate and found themselves teleported deep into a mountain. They could only hope it was the right one.
The catacombs underneath the mountain proved to be vast. Encountered first was a mad soldier and his enemy, the alien combat android. Both had come through the gate decades ago. The mad soldier had seen it his mission to keep the android from the gate (which was in fact broken beyond repair). Little did they know that the android was a killing machine of incredible ability and guile but also damaged – convinced he could not penetrate the simple wall built by the soldier.
After freeing the old soldier of his mission, the group stumbled across a strange chamber with crystalline outcroppings jutting up from strange glowing water-like substance. The party quickly learned the chamber was also filled with noxious gas that knocked them out. However, the water-like substance invigorated and healed them. At one point, the psychic in the group made contact with some kind of entity within the crystals and had to be rescued from the central outcropping. They soon learned the entity was the fractured and insane mind of AI computer that once ran a vast facility under this mountain – facility that experimented with alien technology found on the planet. This included gate technology as well as the crystal technology that the entire Eorna world was based on. The AI warned the party that the catacombs is in a very delicate balance between two forces since the destructive war – forces represented by water and fire. The were warned not to disturb it too much or dire consequences could unfold.
The Underground River
The next feature of the catacombs the party encountered was a massive underground river. Building a raft, the group paddled into the unknown, not knowing where and when they would reach the other side. The river was filled with its own dangers – from giant jaw-fish to the even more dangerous kraken-like tentacle beasts. Part way across, they found an island. Partially to take a rest but partially out of curiosity, they landed on the island. The island was covered in heavy noxious fungus. This fungus release spores that turned out to be poison. However, deep in the fungus-forest was something metallic and large.
The use of rebreathers proved mildly effective, although the spores did attempt to grow on any exposed skin. Going deeper into the fungus-forest, they found an ancient tank, probably from the invasion era. It was distinctly Sathar in design, but the pilot was not. The pilot, its body oddly preserved by the spore, resembled an Ul-Mor. Was that where they came from? Were they soldiers of the Sathar war? But what happened to them? The party thought it diligent to burn the island of its poisonous foliage but in doing caused the ancient fuel in the old tank to explode.
Continuing their trek across the river, their raft was not holding together well, They were getting desperate. As if hearing their prayers, a large multi-ored sailing vessel came out of the dark haze. It pulled alongside their raft and allowed them to board. Aboard, they found a number of different creatures acting as crew – some animals while others primitive sapients. All were working together diligently as if in one hive mind.
The captain was something wholly different. It identified itself as a Zethra, a ancient race of mentally powered slavers. The entire crew was under it’s mental control. However, he wished to add to his crew and was attempting to dominate the party. However, despite dominating one, the party was able to broker a deal with the Zethra Slaver. They would bring him new slaves to dominate. He bound them to the deal mentally, and the Zethra allowed them to leave.
Reaching the shore, the team felt heat emanating from the cave entrances into the catacombs. Entering the catacombs, the next chamber they encountered had a massive Ul-Mor stone statue on a throne. Surrounding the throne was the wreckage of some kind of control or research room, with console units jutting out of stone and rock. The party was able to access some of its memory miraculously, and found more information about the catacombs and what it once was. Contained within these records was the following:
- The facility that was under this mountain at one time was here to study one of many alien starships that were found imbedded in the crust of the planet, crashing here millenia before the Eorna. These alien spacecraft were all crystal-tech based.
- This particular alien spacecraft was a prison ship that contained multiple extra-dimensional beings stored in pods.
- These pods were stored in the lower levels of the facility.
The room suddenly filled with noxious gas and before they knew it, two members of their party was missing. The remaining members were approached by small (perhaps devolved) versions of the Eorna. They called themselves the Yernoids. They lived in this catacombs. However, their home has been invaded recently by “devils.” “Devils must fight devils…” Their translators seemed to mis-translate their strange language. Devils and strangers must mean the same thing in their language.
What the party was convinced into fighting were mutated versions of the alien prisoners. They were mutated by the molten crystal that seems to permeate everywhere on this side of the river. They also had the ability to mutate other things like tunnel worms, flying cave bat creatures and the Yernoids themselves. Dealing with them and their much large boss, the party was rejoined and had a new ally – the Yernoids.
Yazirian Warrior, former Star Devil Pirate
Joining this group was the only choice she had but betraying them is still on the table. However, the focus now is getting her memory back and revenge against whoever left here abandoned on the alien space station.
Additionally, these has been something gnawing at her since she returned. Something related to why she was abandoned at the space station. Something that jars he conscience even though she can’t remember what it is.
This is what Khlith was born for – exploration into the deep unknown. But this unknown has horrible secrets, tragic history and dangers everywhere. And that makes it even better! However, based on Khlith knowledge of the universe, there just seems something wrong with all that he has seen. Something is not right about the lifeforms and the cultures formed here.
The rest of the party is a fascinating mix. The kid seems out of place but has some pretty powerful mental powers when he needs them. The wolf and the lizard are competent warriors. The dralasite, although unnerving to watch at times, has many of the same goals as you except he seems dangerously curious and almost foolhardy with his experimentation with the crystals.
Tor’Drani Female Ranger
The hunger has been the worst part of this mission. There is not enough raw meat on this planet to satisfy her need to feed.
The mysterious guy named Bestin (probably Star Law agent) contacted Telkis on New Pale. He informed her that a person codenamed Diablo was trying to cause trouble with the mission. Bestin was very interested in Diablo and even implied a handsome reward for any information or help in apprehension of this man. There was even a subtle hint that he was wanted dead or alive.
Talkis is indifferent about the party. The annoying kid keeps trying to have relations with her and he does not understand how loathsome she sees him. Furless! How disgusting! The rest serve their purpose but can be troublesome at times, especially the scientists. This is no place for a scientists or explorer. Everything wants to kill you. The only one person she can relate to is the S’saran and he’s about as personable as a tree and always drinking.
Tselex “Nox” Nocx
This world has everything he needs! Ancient technology and secrets to explore, psionically powered crystal veins growing rampantly, and primitive cultures that do not have a clue what they have. This crystal technology is fascinating. Where did it come from? How else did these Eorna use it? How can Nox improve on it. The strange Eorna survivor was concerning though. “You know not what you toy with…” he said. What does that mean?
The planet-wide defense system through the crystal deposits is also a fascinating thing. Why didn’t they finish it and is there a way he can? Finding another control center would help in that way. THey need to find something more than just desert.
S’saran Warrior, Templar of the Church
Escaping the politics of the Frontier was all that Vyd wanted. This was more than he bargained for. The kid is annoying and Vyd is always bailing him out of trouble. The dralasite smells funny. The big guy – the Candrosian – Vyd still can’t figure him out. The wolf is the only being he can relate to, but he doesn’t like how she looks at him when she is hungry.
The planet concerns Vyd. Too much to the Sathar legacy is here. They ravaged many parts of the known world and some unknown. What stopped them here? What kept them from going any further one thousand years ago?
Another concern is the pirate outfit that seems to want to stop the group and has attempted to kill them. Vyd does not take too kindly to that. It’s a long time since Vyd ahs had a family and this is the closest thing he’s got right now.
William Andrew Robert Campbell IV, Vicount Argyll
Human Noble, Diplomat, Psionic
This sucks, dude! That’s all William can say in his head. It is hot, no girls, just a bunch of aliens. But it’s better than being murdered by my step-mom, I guess.
William has always known that he had powers beyond normal stuff. But his father encouraged him to keep it secret. With the new regime taking over on New Pale, they would not take too kindly to humans have a leg up in their society. William found out that the Truane’s Star Government was rounding up psionically talented humans and shipping them off somewhere.
However, this world is strange. Between the psionic nature of the crystalline deposits and the constant oppressive psionic broadcast, this planet presents a level of mystery that scares a young teenagers but intrigues a growing psion. Is this what maturing is like?
These Templars of the Eorna concern William for some reason. The little bloboid-guy… Nox … says he encountered a surviving Eorna. Is he a Templar and are their more?