Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Yeti Sanction, part III (spoilers)

Art by Dave Billman

At the conclusion our previous installment, the player characters had just received unexpected assistance from allies of which they were unaware.  As such, the characters were free to pursue Kahai the Yuga and Anton Markov “to a large room with circular walls about 100 feet in diameter” and “which is filled with strange alien machinery.”  Although the characters do not realize it, they have followed Kahai and Markov onto “the bridge of the Yugan space ship.”  (“Most of the Yuga ship is underground in a huge silo.”)

How formidable are the characters' two opponents?  Kahai has the powers of Mind Block, ESP, Electrosensing, Electrosleep, Hypnosis, and Persuasion.  In addition, he has an energy shield and is armed with a proton beamer (”A rifle-like weapon that shoots a beam of charged proton particles” inflicting 5d6 damage) and a varilance (“A 6 foot long tube that projects a beam of controlled energy that can vary in length from 3 feet to 9 feet” and causes 1d6 + 1d10 damage).  Markov also has a proton beamer along with an energy vest.  Incidentally, Markov possesses the powers of sensual chaos, invisibility, and fear.  You might wonder how an insane, former KGB spymaster gained such powers.  Don't you think it's a little late in the game to start asking questions like that?

Anyway, Kahai “initiates the liftoff sequence that will take the ship off the planet Earth.”  Once “the battle ends, the characters will be pressed to the floor by the high acceleration of the take off.”  The ship's hyperdrive automatically engages after about five minutes whereupon the characters “experience brief disorientation and mild hallucinations for a few seconds.”  Due to damage caused during the battle, the hyperdrive control catches fire when activated and becomes nothing but slag by the time the characters put the fire out.  The characters are now “lost in hyperspace.”  Do Kahai and Markov survive?  Perhaps; they are not referenced at any further point in the adventure (even though Beeveesome, “the ruler of all Yeti,” promised the player characters he would reward them if they bring the villains to him).

After aimlessly travelling through hyperspace for several – evidently uneventful – days, a tractor beam seizes the ship and pulls it toward an asteroid which is “part natural and part artificial.”  A message transmitted from the asteroid is announced via the ship's radio.  I suppose the ship's computer conveniently translates the message into English or maybe all languages are universal in hyperspace.
By the Archon's order . . . no course deviation will be permitted . . . this ship is confiscated . . . all life forms aboard will prepare for termination . . . resistance is futile . . . prepare for docking inside Arcanus 16.
Does preparation for docking take precedence over preparation for termination?  Is docking preparation intended only for entities that aren't life forms?  Answers to these pertinent queries are not provided.  Via the ship's viewing screens, the characters can see the docking bay which is apparently their destination.  At “irregular intervals” the tractor beam partially malfunctions and the ship “nearly breaks free of the beam.”  Somehow the characters realize that they may be able to take advantage of the beam's partial malfunction “to deviate slightly from the present course, so that the ship crashes down upon the the death squad sent by the Archon” even though they have no knowledge of said death squad.  Incidentally, the death squad consists of ten Giant Mantises; this number is reduced to five if the “crash landing” stunt succeeds.  “Since this encounter is potentially deadly to all the characters, it is suggested that the GM use discretion.”

Assuming the player characters prevail, television cameras inform them that twenty more Giant Mantises are approaching the docking bay via the left tunnel.  “There is little choice but to run from the Archon's death squad,” so the player characters presumably flee down the right hand tunnel which “opens into a passageway leading downwards toward the asteroid's interior.”  Eventually, the player characters encounter three air elementals guarding “the entrance to the Cave of the Winds.”  The characters can either defeat the elementals or enter into a magical contract with them allowing “unhindered passage across the Cave of Winds in return for aid in an attempt by a Baroness of Air to take to control from a Duchess of Air.”

If the characters opt for the contract, they and Cerulea (the Baroness) fight Pneuma (the Duchess).  If Cerulea wins, she tells the characters how to escape from the asteroid.  If Pneuma wins, “The only chance for the characters to to accept a magical contract with her.”  Pneuma then gives the characters the same information about escaping from the asteroid since – given the contract – it is “in her best interest to see that the characters survive.”

Beyond the Cave of the Winds, there is “a huge plateau about 20 miles wide” in the center of which “is a giant pyramid of obsidian.”  The pyramid is huge – “several thousand feet high.”  A black sun illuminates the plateau with “dark and hazy” light having “a purplish-blue tint.”  (“One particular aspect of the 'sunlight' is that nothing on the plateau casts a shadow.”)  The characters are informed that “their best hope of escape lies in the gate atop the Obsidian Pyramid, and that they will need the control box owned by the creature that lives in the Black Sun, plus the crystal prism and master tape cartridge owned by various creatures inside the pyramid.”

Art by Dave Billman

The creature of the Black Sun is an Urlar.  What's an Urlar?  According to The Book of Foes, “Urlar are space for faring [sic] amoebas about 30 feet in diameter...[that] can change shape at will (it takes 10 turns to form a new shape).”  Aside from having all powers from the Cyborg, Projector, Telepath, and Invoker sets, the Black Sun Urlar has a gamma raygun* implanted in it.

Attached to one side of the pyramid is “a castle built from rainbow-like quartz.”  Apparently, the only way into the pyramid is through the rainbow castle.  Inhabiting the castle is the Bestiary Grand Council, an organization of animal rulers.  According to The Book of Foes
Every type of animal has both a ruler and guardians who personify and protect that type of animal.  It is possible for the characters to make pacts with animal rulers and guardians so that the ruler or guardian may be summoned by the characters.  All rulers and guardians have the ability to Travel Between Dimensions to answer a summons.  The pact upon which the summons is based must be mutually rewarding.  Usually, the characters must either bargain for a service after meeting the ruler or guardian face-to-face, or was rewarded the pact for some action that was extremely beneficial for the type of animal associated with the ruler or guardian.
(While humanoid in aspect, animal rulers should not be confused with humanoid races having animal characteristics or the leaders of those races.  For example, sharkmen are a humanoid race with shark-like properties.  Bloodhook is the lord of the sharkmen.  The animal ruler for all sharks is named Skulo.)

The council will permit the characters “to pass through the rainbow castle into the interior of the pyramid only if the characters can prove themselves worthy.”  To accomplish this, each player character must engage in single combat with an animal guardian.  “The characters will be judged worthy to enter the obsidian pyramid if at least half of the characters are victorious in their individual combats.”  A character who loses to an animal guardian will be under magical contract to that guardian.  On the other hand, if the animal guardian loses, the guardian will be under magical contract to the character.

Should the player characters be permitted to access the pyramid, the council will provide them with a magical compass that will lead them through the pyramid's “maze of tunnels.”  (If the characters managed to avoid Cerulea and Pneuma, the council will tell them about the three devices they need to escape the asteroid.)  In the pyramid, the characters confront trolls, Fomorians, and a  Wendigo to obtain the needed devices and reach the top of the pyramid.  Actually, the pyramid is truncated.  “The top of the pyramid is a square plateau about 1000 feet to a side.”  Seventy-seven statues ring a pond of mercury at regular intervals.  “Fifty-six of the statues depict giant humanoids sitting on thrones,” the remaining statues are empty thrones.  In the middle of the pond “is an obsidian platform about 20 feet square.”  On the platform is an obelisk “covered with dials, meters and switches.”  The characters can use the devices to operate the obelisk, “which locates and locks on to an interdimensional gate.”  However, when the gate opens, one of the statue humanoids becomes animated.  Said humanoids are actually Archons.

What's an Archon?  According to The Book of Foes, “Archons...look like large muscular humans, though they can Shape Shift at will three times a day.”  Unfortunately, The Book of Foes doesn't explain what Archons are; we must garner clues from The Yeti Sanction.  We learn that, “The race that built the asteroid and created the Archons has long since ceased to control the asteroid.”  Also, “the Archon remains true to its original purpose:  to kill all unauthorized intruders.”  Since the creator race no longer controls the asteroid, no authorization is possible.  So, Archons are synthetic and would not seem to be capable of independent thought that would overcome their programming.

Of course, the Archon attacks the player characters.  Chiron appears from the gate.  “He will join the characters, telling them: 'Prometheus thought you can use some help.'”  In The Horn of Roland, Prometheus provided assistance to player characters (and vice versa).  The Yeti Sanction claims that any character who participated in Roland “will know that Chiron speaks the truth, since the friends of Prometheus can always recognize each other telepathically, even went they have never met before.”  Somehow the characters know this.  Of course, it's possible that the Yeti player characters did not partake in Roland.  How and why Chiron would assist the characters in this instance is not explained.

Presumably, the player characters and their new centaur friend defeat the Archon, allowing the characters to access the interdimensional gate.  “The GM can use the escape through the gate as a prelude to the character's [sic] next adventure.”  Specifically, “The escape was designed to be used as a background to the adventure module: Omegakron.”  However, “The GM does not have to let the gate lead to Omegakron.”  In any event, Chiron does not accompany the player characters; he returns from whence he came (presumably under the auspices of Prometheus).

Art by Dave Billman
* “A submachinegun-like weapon that fires a ray of gamma radiation.  There is no known natural defense against a gamma raygun, and it is illegal to own one.”  It inflicts 6d6 points of damage.

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