Monday, September 2, 2013

Dangerous Encounter: The Hot Zone

This encounter takes place in a town named "Threemilez" that has set up just at the edge of a Bygone class 5 radiation zone. Threemilez is unique in the Mutant Future as a town that has learned to adapt to and harness the dangerous radioactive flotsam littering the landscape. The radiation levels in the village are low enough to not be hazardous (due to the distance form the zone), but the proximity allows the villagers to scavenge radioactive materials for use in a small fusion reaction they've assembled. (They have radiation protection suits and other safeguards to protect themselves from exposure.) The village of Threemilez has power running to every building, giving the town heat, light, and electricity. This power also runs the 50,000-volt fencing around the town that keeps out mutants and barbarian hordes that would like to get their hands on the technological wonders within. The PCs may end up in Threemilez at the end of a long journey or they may stumble across the technologically advanced town in their journey.

During their stay, the PCs should discover that unexplained deaths have begun occurring within the city limits. Each morning, a body is found covered in scabby blisters, as if they had "cooked" from the inside-out. The common thread among the dead is that they have all been scavengers who went into "The Hot Zone" and retrieved materials for the reactor. But each scavenger is checked for exposure upon his return, and no one has shown any signs of radiation poisoning. For now, the citizens are assuming that the victims have been dying from an identified disease contracted in the radiation zone -- a disease they're calling "The Red Death." The town's mayor isn't so certain.

The mayor requests an audience with the PCs to help investigate these deaths.  (He's trying to avoid a panic, so he wants the investigation done by "outsiders.") Mayor Thomsoch feels that the deaths are actually murders rather than some mysterious virus, but he's at a loss as to how these are occurring. There is only one remaining scavenger who hasn't died, and no one else has been to the rad zone since the deaths began. Fusionable materials are dwindling and if the town doesn't begin procuring radioactive materials again, the power will die and Threemilez will be susceptible to invasion and attack. The PCs are tasked with keeping an eye on Sneezyip, the last survivor.

Sneezyip is a mutant cat who is very nervous about dying from the Red Death. (The mayor hasn't informed anyone else of his suspicions that these are targeted killings.) The PCs need top stay close to Sneezyip without letting on why they've been assigned to follow him. They could explain they're "medicine men" from a nearby village who were invited to observe Sneezeyip and to offer medical assistance if he becomes "ill." They could claim the mayor demanded Sneezyip be quarantined in case he shows symptoms of the Red Death. Sneezyip is too frightened to offer any resistance or to argue about any explanation the PCs toss up.

The mayor is correct that the scavengers are not dying of a "disease." They've been targeted by a small band of Crimson Cinders who live in the radiation zone. The Crimson Cinders have taken affront that their "home" has been constantly invaded and its resources ravaged and have decided to terminate any who have entered their domain.

Crimson Cinders (3) (AL N, MV Fly: 60' (20'), AC 6, HD 6, #AT 1 (energy ray), DG 4d6, SV L4, ML 10, mutations: reflective epidermis (radiation), epidermal emissions (radiation), energy ray (radiation))

Because their physical forms are not much more than glowing, swirling vapors, the scavengers never saw the Crimson Cinders lurking nearby in the light of day. The Crimson Cinders somehow "imprinted" on each scavenger, then followed them back to Threemilez.  Each night, the band of three Crimson Cinders tracked a scavenger back to his home, passing harmlessly through the fence and remaining unseen by any citizens out at night. There, they'd attack the "intruder" using their energy ray mutation to effectively "microwave" the victim until they had died from internal heat damage.

The Crimson Cinders will attack and kill Sneezyip tonight unless the PCs are able to stop them. If the PCs are standing watch, they'll see three shimmering forms approaching Sneezyip's cottage -- barely visible against the moonlight. These three forms look like red glowing spirits or ghosts, vaguely humanoid in shape. If anyone comes within 10 feet of the Crimson Cinders, they'll take 2d6 hit points of radiation exposure damage. (Half-damage taken with a successful save versus radiation.) If anyone tries to stop them or communicate with them, they'll enrage the Crimson Cinders who will then attack, firing a crimson energy ray bolt for 4d6 hit points of damage. During the attack, Sneezyip may try to run. If he does, one of the Crimson Cinders will continue to follow him until the interloper is dead. The other two Crimson Cinders will deal with anyone who is trying to stop their mission of revenge.

If the Crimson Cinders are destroyed, the deaths will end and the radiation zone will be "safe" once again for scavenging. The mayor will reward the PCs with 800 gold pieces from the town treasury as well giving them a box of Rad Tabs (8 in a box), 4 Rad-Purge shots, and an experimental suit of environmental armor (AC 4) that protects against radiation class 5 and lower. If Sneezyip is killed, however, the Crimson Cinders will return to the radiation zone, targeting and killing any future intruders. Scavengers from Threemilez will refuse to enter, and the power to the city will stop within a week. The town will be razed by marauders shortly thereafter.


  1. Nice adventure, I'm gonna have to use it.

  2. There is a 3rd possible outcome: The Crimson Cinders could be destroyed, but not in time to save Sneezyip. Then I suppose the PCs could be tasked with going out scavenging to prove that it is now safe to do so. (Am assuming there would be no other witness to the fight against the Crimson Cinders.)