Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dangerous Encounter: Journey To The Center Of The ERTH

The PCs arrive at a small outpost on the edge of The Badlands to refresh and re-equip themselves only to find the facility razed and utterly devastated. Bodies of the outpost's inhabitants are strewn about, and there's not a single structure left standing, as if every building were somehow crushed or pushed over. Much of the outpost's supplies and weaponry are missing, as if bandits or marauders attacked and looted the fort, but no outlaws have this kind of destructive power -- or do they?

With enough searching, the PCs will find one badly injured mutant trapped under some rubble, a mutant rat named Bracall. "It was a giant snake that crashed through the walls and destroyed the buildings!" he says between gasps of air. "Huge, like 20 feet tall and four times as long! The giant snake and its army overran the outpost, killing everyone, and taking everything. I stayed hidden 'cause snakes eat rats!"

Bracall says that the attack occurred 4 hours ago. With prompting, he describes the "giant snake" as covered in green metal armor and "floating" a few feet from the ground. It battered the buildings down with its bulk while its army -- snake-men with arms, legs, and barbed tails -- gathered up the outpost's supplies and killed any survivors they encountered. Bracall remembers that the giant snake then "swallowed" the snake-men and supplies, then turned west and floated away over the craggy badland terrain. He says that the snake-men live out west in the badlands, and this must have been done to gather supplies and weapons for an even larger attack.

"If they get those weapons back to their tribe, they'll destroy every other outpost out here. They could even go further east and destroy villages and towns if they have that...thing at their command!"

Bracall begs the party to stop the giant snake and its army by any means necessary before they can deliver their stolen goods. To help catch up to them, Bracall reveals a badly damaged -- but functional -- hovertruck that can carry the party and their gear. Due to the damage sustained, the hovertruck's top speed is only 120 MPH and it has 20 hit points before it's destroyed. (If the Mutant Lord feels generous, you can also supply the PCs with some spare energy grenades that were left behind by the snake-men.)

It takes only 2 hours for the party to catch up to the "giant snake" as it's moving at half its movement rate due to the rough terrain. It's just as Bracall described it -- a giant, green-armored, 80-foot-long snake. However, the PCs can see that the snake is clearly some kind of Bygone mechanical vehicle. Stenciled on the side (if anyone can read Bygone languages) are the letters "ERTH." Once they get closer, they can see that the abbreviation stands for "Exploratory Rough Terrain Hovercraft" which is written underneath. The vehicle looks like a long locomotive-like conveyance with several segmented "cars" joined together. (Stats for the ERTH appear at the end of this adventure.) Thick transparent  plexisteel windows lines the sides, and the PCs can see the snake-men inside the vehicle.

The snake-men are Serpentoids (MF rules, page 94) who were actually worshiping the inactive ERTH as a graven image of their snake-god for generations. The current high priest managed to find his way inside the vehicle and activate it. He and the tribe saw this as a sign from their snake-god to go forth and attack all non-Serpentoids who are encroaching on their lands. The attack on the outpost was the first step. Once they arm the camp, they'll climb inside the ERTH and lay waste to any outposts, camps, villages, and small towns they encounter. The ERTH now holds 12 Serpentoids who are scattered throughout the various cars and compartments. The high priest is at the controls at the front of the ERTH.

Serpentoids (12) (AL C, MV 120' (40'), AC 4, HD 10, #AT 3 or 1 (2 claws, bite or tail), DM 1d8/1d8/1d10 or 2d6, SV L8, ML 10, mutations: toxic weapon, thermal vision, metamorph)

How the PCs board the ERTH or stop it is left to the Mutant Lord to play out. The ERTH is heavily armored and can take a lot of damage before it's disabled. The primary doorway in and out lays at the back end of the vehicle, which opens up into a massive storage area at the rear. The PCs can try to attack the rear hatch in hopes of blowing it open for access (the door will take 50 HP before falling off) or the Serpentoids -- alerted to the presence of the PCs -- may open the rear hatch and begin firing at the party. There is another hatchway on top of the ERTH if anyone can get on top of it, and it will only take 15 hp of damage before popping open.

If the PCs storm the ERTH, there should be a running firefight from car to car as the Serpentoids fight to stop the breech as well as protect the driver up front. They will use whatever weapons they scavenged from the outpost (Mutant Lord's choice) as well as their toxic weapon bite which deals a class 6 radiation toxin. And as the fight goes on, the ERTH gets closer and closer to 100's of Serpentoids waiting for the arrival of their snake-god's bounty.

If the party appears that they are going to win the fight, the high priest driver will steer the ERTH away from the Serpentoid tribal area before activating the self-destruct mechanism built into the military vehicle. (He'd rather see the ERTH destroyed than fall into the hands of The Unclean.) Once activated, the ERTH will explode in 2 minutes, doing 10d10 hit points of damage to anyone still inside, 5d10 to anyone within 50 feet, and 2d10 to anyone between 51 to 100 feet away.

If the party manages to kill or drive off all of the Serpentoids and keep the ERTH from exploding, they will have both a monstrous stockpile of weapons and a powerful vehicle on-hand. (The Mutant Lord may want to carefully consider this campaign-changing shift before "handing them the keys," so to speak.) The supplies taken from the outpost will be found in one of the ERTH's cargo cars. Rather than listing an entire outpost's armory and stockpile, the Mutant Lord should feel free to place as many or as few items as would fit the current campaign. If the party could use some new weapons or items, have those devices available. If the party is well-armed, have the cargo consist of foodstuffs, medical supplies, and random devices. It is left to the Mutant Lord as to how much power he wishes to put into the hands of the PCs.

ERTH (Exploratory Rough Terrain Hovercraft)
Hit Dice: 400 hp
Frame: Armature
Locomotion: Forced Air (45 MPH on irregular terrain; 90 MPH on flat level terrain)
Manipulators: None
Armor: Alumasteel Armor (AC 4)
Sensors: Class II Sensor System
Mental Programming: Programming 
Accessories: Internal Storage Unit, Self-destruct System
Weaponry: Being run over by the ERTH can be considered a "trample" attack by a 50 HD creature. A successful attack would do 4d20 hit points of damage.


  1. Shouldn't there be a damage listing for the ERTH ramming something?

    1. After giving this a bit of thought, I suppose it could be considered either a ram attack (pg. 54) or a trample attack (pg. 58). I'd consider it a "trample" (you're being run over). A Charger is a 14 HD creature and it does 1d20 on a trample attack. If we extrapolate that, the ERTH would be somewhere around 50 HD, so it would do 3d20-4d20 on its "trample" attack. I'll update the entry to reflect this.

  2. Nice write up and a very cool little adventure/encounter with the potential for Realms of Crawling Chaos crossover if the serpentoids have Snakemen masters directing this campaign in the name of Yig! Nice write up!

  3. The vehicle stats should include crew, passenger and cargo capacity as well as fuel or power source.

  4. Interestingly, none of the vehicle stats in the MF rules (page 132) goes into this much detail. Top speed and hit points are all that's listed (with an additional mention of running on a mini-fusion cell in the hover vehicle description). I used the robotic template as this gives a lot more info, but the carrying capacity, crew needed, etc. do seem to be lacking. I’ll pass on making this entry any longer than it is for now, but perhaps someone should come up with a standard Mutant Future vehicle stat template?

  5. I've been begging the Skirmisher guys to flesh out MF's sparse vehicle rules for just these very reasons.

    And don't you have an in with Dan Proctor? Get him on that, stat!