Today's Thundarr Thursday feature is the first Mutant Future mini-adventure based on one of the episodes!
The PCs should find themselves travelling through a wintery Arctic area. Aside from the usual dangers the post-apocalyptic world holds, they should be worried that something as simple as exposure to the elements will be their swansong. While they search for shelter from the elements, have one of them spy a meteor streaking far overhead. They should hear an explosion in the distance where the object crashed. If they wish to investigate the impact site, the party must cross over an ice bridge on their way. However, due to the heat of the passing meteor, the ice bridge is dangerously melted and it should collapse under one of them (or all of them), dumping them into a deep ravine and at the entrance to an Ice Wolf den. (New creature, click here for a description.) There are three Ice Wolves who attack the party.
Ice Wolves (3) (AL N, MV 150' (50'), AC 6, HD 5, #AT 1 (bite or frost breath), DG 2d6 or 4d6 cold damage, SV L2, ML 8, Mutations: albinism, thermal vision, frost breath)
When the last Ice Wolf is dealt with, the Mutant Lord should make it clear that the party cannot reach the crash site from the bottom of the ravine and that the ice walls are too slick to climb back up. Plus, the temperature is beginning to drop rapidly. (Give one of the characters a cold if you need to prompt them.) If they follow the bottom of the ravine, they will eventually come to a guard outpost manned by a single young human girl named Meena. If they explain what brought them here, she'll explain she saw no "lights in the sky," but she will also offer to take the characters to her village so they can rest up and warm themselves. She will take them to a nearby ice cavern and, after traversing about a mile of tunnel, the cavern will open up revealing an Ancient buried amusement park that had been swallowed up during the cataclysm. Meena's people have converted this long-buried theme park into a small thriving village.
The village elder and Meena will take the characters into one of the shantys where they will be fed and warmed. While eating and socializing, the characters should be given a chance to hear screams in the distance. If they do hear the commotion and are alert, they will not be surprised when the Stalker From the Stars (New creature, click here for a description) explodes from the floor and begins attacking the village elder. Otherwise, they are surprised when the creature appears and will miss an attack on the first round.
Stalker (1) (AL C, MV 120' (40'); burrowing 90' (30'), AC 4, HD 11, #AT 6 (4 claws, tail, and bite), DG 1d8, 1d8, 1d8, 1d8, 1d6, 1d8, SV L9, ML 10, Mutations: webs, hyperburrowing, optic emissions, machine control)
The Stalker is an alien from another planet who crashed in the ship the characters mistook for a meteor. (The ship is completely destroyed and is now buried forever under tons of ice and rock. The Stalker escaped using its hyperburrowing ability.) It has used its hyperburrowing to try to sneak up on the party while they fought the Ice Wolves, but they had moved on by the time the Stalker arrived. (The remaining Ice Wolves in the den are now packed away for a future feast though.) The Stalker has followed the party to Meena's village and, using its hyperburrowing ability and its webs, has been systematically catching and bundling up other villagers while the party ate and rested. It has now decided to go after the elder as well as test the PCs who seem to be the most powerful enemies here.
The elder offers no real fight and is caught in webs and dragged underground before the party knows what happened (though they may get in a good shot or two). If the party starts to gain an advantage, the Stalker will fire its optic emissions at the roof, causing it to collapse. It will escape during the commotion.
After the attack, if the party goes outside, they will see several villagers standing around, wondering what has happened and what to do next. Several of them feel as if they are sitting ducks for the Stalker once the party explains what they just encountered. It is up to the PCs to determine what to do next. If they split up to go looking for the Stalker, it will pick off the other villagers one by one. If they decide to stay together, the Stalker will attack without warning, overpowering a villager and quickly dragging them off. The villager numbers should dwindle until only the PCs are left. (The Ancient amusement park should make for some creepy encounters with the Stalker as it jumps out, attacks, and hyperburrows away after catching another victim.)
The party should eventually discover that the Stalker has been using the abandoned Fun House as its base, whether by tracking it or seeing it running into the building. Once they enter, they will see web-cocooned villagers stacked up like cordwood throughout the building. The Mutant Lord should play up the otherworldliness of the Fun House as they track the Stalker. A tumbling barrel, a maze of mirrors, spring-loaded paper mache "monsters" that jump out at the party, etc. can be used to keep them on their toes. If the Stalker is cornered or if the fight starts going badly, it will escape from the Fun House and will try to use the other old decrepit rides to throw off the party. An exciting fight can take place on the roller coaster or the Ferris wheel.
Eventually, the fight should begin to turn against the Stalker. When the Stalker is down to 15 hit points or less, it will use its machine control ability to take control of some nearby heavy machinery (a bulldozer perhaps) which it will send toward the party. However, if the Stalker is defeated, the controlled machine will stop moving. Once the Stalker is defeated, the party is free to release the villagers and help them recover and rebuild after the encounter with the alien being.
If the party ever does decide to investigate the crash site, a bit of digging will reveal the Stalker's escape tunnel. If they follow it into the ship, they will find it fairly well crushed and destroyed. However, they will be able to salvage the following items: 2,155 gp; a stun pistol; a stun rifle; 8 bottles of synthihol; 6 light sticks; and a water purifier.
NOTE: This adventure and its creatures were inspired by the episode “Stalker From the Stars” from the classic Ruby Spears post-apocalyptic cartoon “Thundarr the Barbarian.” Obviously some liberties needed to be taken with the original episode's plotline, but I tried to stay as true as I could to the feel of the show. Stay tuned each week for “Thundarr Thursday”!
Time to Reboot and Move Ahead - Real life and work has kept me way too busy. Heck, I even missed Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day. I know I’ve ranted about this before. I sat down this ...