A new take on Crash on Volturnus

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 1, 2009 - 8:25am
I've always felt compelled to explain why the PCs are being sent to Volturnus as it seems to not make sense on the surface. It you read the discriptions of the previous team and compare their capabilities to the starting PCs it stands out that the starting PCs are barely capable of pouring piss out of a boot with instructions written on the heal.

People with only 2 skills a piece sent to a dangerous environment where a more capable team already disappeared? I've already hash and rehashed the conspiracy angle on this in other threads making the the PCs patsies who aren't suppose to succeed.

But while driving last night it occured to me that there is another way to do this. The PCs are the crew of the Serrena Dawn and the real team has there lifeboat shot out of space. It makes more sense that the starting PCs would be tramp freighter crew than an advanced scientific survey team.

The way to run the adventure is to have a full deck plan of the serrena dawn and run it from the pirates shooting out the engines and boarding. with a traitor among the crew. make it a desparate fighting retreat toward some method of escape while a group of 20 pirates sweep the ship deck by deck.

Add a locator beacon in each escape pod and life boat to allow the PC's to link up (the pirates will mount a search but the PCs have about 2-3 days before they see a jetcopter). make the desert less a desparate survival and more a escape and evade.

The PCs motivation for running this adventure is to survive and get off the planet and maybe get even with the pirates for blowing up their ship (or did they blow the Dawn? Maybe its recoverable?)
The 3rd module would be run with the Col. Jamison npc recruiting them to be his special ops team for the coming battle because there is no one else who can do it. or change that to Land Fleet arrives and the Pale militia and space fleet mount a desparate fight to save the planet and tell the civilians (the PCs) to sit tight and we'll get you out if we win the battle. But the PCs discover info for the possible location of the Star Devils secret hideout and his personal ship and during a massive land and space battle try to effect their own bug out.

If you go with the 3rd module as written its ordinary people rising to the occassion to become heros who save the planet.
If you go with the civillians just trying to survive in the midist of a collossal battle it just ordinary people trying to just get by. taking down the star devil himself is heroic but not going to be something they'd want to brag about.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!
Comments:

umungus's picture
umungus
October 1, 2009 - 12:28pm
I agree that the characters seem a bit under skilled for this type of mission. The biggest thing my players said about the Serena Dawn encounter was that it felt railroady. They didn't complain too much.
They did have questions about how they would get down to the planet for the mission. I said off the cuff that there was a shuttle that carried an explorer on another deck. They said they wanted to get to it and get away that way. I said they didn't know how to fly it. (railroad) so, they went for the escape pode.

I was thinking that another option is that they are part of a bigger more skilled team. One escape would be to find a pilot and escape in the shuttle. for one reason or another the rest of the team doesn't make it.
then have the shuttle get peppered by a pirate corvette and crash land on the planet.

At least I got to scare an alien rabbit thingy......


Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
October 1, 2009 - 2:52pm
The inherent problem I see...in the original writing of the adventure the characters, as an exploration team, are to befriend and study the alien life forms encountered. As marooned crew, this part of the "mission" becoems null and void. While befriending the Ul-Mor suits the survival end the Kurabanda, Edestekai, and Eorna become a lesser to moot point of the game. Sure, the Kurabanda are thought by the Ul-Mor to be supporting "others of the players' kind" so there's that reason, but once the party reaches Slave City One liberating the Edestekai from servitude to the pirates really is a moot point (which can effect the future events in uniting the races for the upcoming sathar invasion). And seeking out the Eorna becomes a mere matter of finding Jameson more than anything else.

It's not a big point, but just one of the focal points of the original writing that would be missing. It could even be rewritten as an emergency mandate for crew should they become stranded on an unexplored world, just to get it engrained into the players' heads as something to focus on.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Will's picture
Will
October 1, 2009 - 6:31pm
Shadow Shack wrote:
but once the party reaches Slave City One liberating the Edestekai from servitude to the pirates really is a moot point (which can effect the future events in uniting the races for the upcoming sathar invasion).


Not really. If the PCs want to knock over Slave City One, they pretty much need the peanut heads on their side and un-brainwashed.

Otherwise, while they might be able to get rid of the pirates, the Edestekai will overwhelm them with sheer numbers. It will probably be a pyrrhic victory at best without the peanut heads on their side, as the pirates outnumber and outgun the PC party as presented in the module.

Other ways to get the peanut heads on the PCs side, assuming they go to the Kurabanda to see if they can find their fellow beings: The Kurabanda are at war with the Edestekai, the Star Devils training their willing slaves with modern weapons and tactics and using them as proxies to capture, enslave, and/or kill the Kurabanda. The head Kurabanda can approach the PCs for help on this front, or the Eorna can send Jameison to enlist the PCs aid(while they're willing to let the pirates stick radios in the skulls of the Edestekai priesthood to see if the peanut heads can figure out they're being played for puppets, the Eorna are probably less willing for two of their three subject races to war to the death, as that would serious setback the Great Project).

And, perhaps, the Edestekai are more willing accomplices than anyone even suspects, one of their priests having figured out the pirates' scam and is attempting to manipulate the situation to his advantage. 

"You're everything that's base in humanity," Cochrane continued. "Drawing up strict, senseless rules for the sole reason of putting you at the top and excluding anyone you say doesn't belong or fit in, for no other reason than just because you say so."


—Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stephens, Federation

umungus's picture
umungus
October 2, 2009 - 7:39am

I suggested that the players could escape well equipped with an explorer with a subspace and enough gear. Then they could contact their employer and be urged to continue the mission.
It wouldn't feel like a matter of survival.

At least I got to scare an alien rabbit thingy......


Gullwind's picture
Gullwind
October 2, 2009 - 5:07pm
I'm (slowly) running a group of my own PCs through the Volturnus series, using my own tweaked version of the rules. The characters started out at higher skill levels, because the idea of sending newbies out on a mission like that always bugged me too. I also drew a new map for the Serena Dawn, based on the Large Freighter from Knight Hawks. The beginning of the adventure involves the PCs fighting off a boarding action by the pirates and being forced to flee the ship in the landing shuttle which includes their equipment and explorer, so they aren't struggling to survive quite as much. Another change I made was to expand the scale of the Volturnus map to 24 km per hex. Having all that action in such a relatively small area of the planet never made sense to me either.
"Rome didn't build an empire by having meetings. They did it by killing those who stood in their way."

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 2, 2009 - 8:37pm
Gullwind wrote:
Another change I made was to expand the scale of the Volturnus map to 24 km per hex. Having all that action in such a relatively small area of the planet never made sense to me either.


ooh good point.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
October 4, 2009 - 3:56pm
someday when time allows i may do a module on a return to Volturnus and do something very different then what was spelled out in the three original modules. My first long running campaign used Volturnus a couple of times but did not involve the local indigenous races.

Mother's picture
Mother
October 17, 2009 - 11:13pm

While I think the series is fine as written, I think it's an excellent idea. It would make a more exciting introduction for new players.  I always thought it was odd to introduce players to a Sci-fi game by having them spend the first few sessions dying of thirst and trying to survive in the wilderness with stone age weapons.  

One positive thing about the adventure as written, is that it really makes the players appreciate their modern weapons, the need for psycho-social skills and that huge sigh of relief at the end of SF2 when the Truane's Star battlefleet arrives to take them back to civilization.

I would suggest having Col. Jamison recruit the players for the assault on Slave City 1.  Say he's trying to stop shipments by shuttle or needs to get to the subspace transmitter.  While it would eliminate the immediate need to make contact with the Edestiki, it would be a cooler battle that would more directly involve the PCs.


jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 18, 2009 - 9:30pm
Mother wrote:
I would suggest having Col. Jamison recruit the players for the assault on Slave City 1.  Say he's trying to stop shipments by shuttle or needs to get to the subspace transmitter.  While it would eliminate the immediate need to make contact with the Edestiki, it would be a cooler battle that would more directly involve the PCs.


I like this idea alot. maybe Jamison and the eorna have agreed to work together. and the meeting with the natives are missions given to the PC-

Another thing I never liked was the ABC quest in SF2 and the PC's quest to swing the Kurabanda to join in the battle with the sathar just struck me as -blah- something from a bad D&D module. If the PCs are recruited by Jamison and the eorna then the orginial encounter with the Kurabanda can be used as the mission to recruit the Kurabanda to fight the Sathar. Everything from the King taking insult and the roller hunt from hang gliders - that encounter would play better for recruiting them then the climb the spire and face the giant bird and get the idol back.

This makes the mission to the mechanons and the Kurabanda into some tough role play encounters.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

aemonaylward's picture
aemonaylward
July 22, 2016 - 12:54pm
Gullwind wrote:
...Another change I made was to expand the scale of the Volturnus map to 24 km per hex. Having all that action in such a relatively small area of the planet never made sense to me either.


That makes a lot of sense to me too.  Even so, that mapped area is a tiny fraction of Volturnus' total surface area, no? 

I've been admiring Joe Cabadas' icosahedral planetary hex maps (http://www.starfrontiers.us/downloads/9205), and wondering whether anyone ever created such a map for Volturnus - not necessarily that format, just anything covering the surface of the whole planet. 

My poking around in the archives hasn't turned any up - anyone here have any leads on such a thing?

JCab747's picture
JCab747
July 22, 2016 - 5:42pm
aemonaylward wrote:
Gullwind wrote:
...Another change I made was to expand the scale of the Volturnus map to 24 km per hex. Having all that action in such a relatively small area of the planet never made sense to me either.


That makes a lot of sense to me too.  Even so, that mapped area is a tiny fraction of Volturnus' total surface area, no? 

I've been admiring Joe Cabadas' icosahedral planetary hex maps (http://www.starfrontiers.us/downloads/9205), and wondering whether anyone ever created such a map for Volturnus - not necessarily that format, just anything covering the surface of the whole planet. 

My poking around in the archives hasn't turned any up - anyone here have any leads on such a thing?


I haven't seen any other Volturnus maps out there than the originals from the modules. Though, I'm sure some may hbe created larger ones... Isn't it TerlObar who had created his own Lizard Head Rock adventure?

Then there's the other Zebulon-bastard planet in the system -- Anker. The Eorna probably heavily colonized that world. Wouldn't it have been bombed by the Sathar too? But it's such a great place for the University of Zebulon... No Eorna survivors there?

Sorry, my musings are falling back into the old "I hate Zebs" routine... though there's salvagable things out of it.... but it ruined the game... but it has some neat technology...
Joe Cabadas

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
July 22, 2016 - 5:42pm
As far as I know no one has ever done that.
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Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
July 22, 2016 - 6:21pm
aemonaylward wrote:


I've been admiring Joe Cabadas' icosahedral planetary hex maps (http://www.starfrontiers.us/downloads/9205), and wondering whether anyone ever created such a map for Volturnus - not necessarily that format, just anything covering the surface of the whole planet. 

My poking around in the archives hasn't turned any up - anyone here have any leads on such a thing?

I've had half a mind to do a Volturnus icosahedral map, but to date I have only rendered Minotaur as such.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

JCab747's picture
JCab747
July 23, 2016 - 6:24pm
Here's some quick and dirty maps on Volturnus for you.

http://www.starfrontiers.us/node/9413

As I said, they're quick, not complete.
Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
July 23, 2016 - 6:25pm
Here's the "planetary" map.

http://starfrontiers.us/node/9414
Joe Cabadas

aemonaylward's picture
aemonaylward
July 24, 2016 - 3:58am
Sweet!  Thanks!  I was going to take a stab at that myself, but you are much quicker on the draw (pun intended).

It's one thing to do the arithmetic on how little of Volturnus' surface was represented on the map in the module - quite another to actually see it as a speck surrounded by blank space on a map of the whole planet.

JCab747's picture
JCab747
July 24, 2016 - 7:05am
aemonaylward wrote:
Sweet!  Thanks!  I was going to take a stab at that myself, but you are much quicker on the draw (pun intended).

It's one thing to do the arithmetic on how little of Volturnus' surface was represented on the map in the module - quite another to actually see it as a speck surrounded by blank space on a map of the whole planet.


Yes. A lot of action takes place on a very small map.
Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
July 24, 2016 - 10:47am
Here's a few more goodies for you.

Here's an image that I'm going to use as the basis of a Volturnus world map.

http://www.starfrontiers.us/node/9415
Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
July 24, 2016 - 10:49am
And here's a planetary map WIP.

http://starfrontiers.us/node/9416

It's probably going to take me some time to complete it and add other features.
Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
July 24, 2016 - 3:25pm
Allow me to make some wild musings about Volturnus and the Eorna... we've done some of that with the "Lizard Head Rock" discussion.

Volturnus is obviously the Pan-Gal name for the Eorna's homeworld. It should have another name, say Rha'a'tha... or something that sounds dinosaur like.

Let's say the world was densely populated at the height of the Eorna civilization, say approximately 12 billion with another 3 billion on Anker (that could be the original Eorna name for the world). Most of the populace was located in the cities, which is where most of them died on the Day of Doom.

The Eorna had several nations of whick Volkos was the capital of one of its more peaceful countries.

The Eorna had developed a United Nations-like super government, which was also headquartered at Volkos -- hence its importance and why the Sathar listening post is located near it and the planetary defense installation that the Mechanons eventually controlled.

The Eorna were a species "raised up" to advanced technology either by the Tetrarch Societies or the decendants of the Tetrarchs.

They had space flight for some time and had explored a good part of the modern-day Frontier/Rim sectors.

The Eorna had contact with the primative Humma, Osakar and Ifshnit.

They had outposts on New Pale and Laco's World plus a few other worlds that were later destroyed by the Sathar. Frontier colonists may have found some of these ruins but didn't know the species who made them. Other ruins still lie undiscovered on planets.

The Eorna and Sathar had previous contact for some time, but maybe it was secret dealings, unknown to most of the Eorna population, especially the survivors.

Perhaps the Eorna betrayed the Sathar at some point.

Or the worms grew envious or fearful of the Eorna's mental powers, cybernetic/genetic engineering.

In any case, they coveted the Eorna's technology, which led to the Day of Doom.

Large parts of the planet are now vast deserts...
Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
July 24, 2016 - 10:55pm
Oh, I almost forgot, the second update of the Volturnus world map is here:

http://starfrontiers.us/node/9417
Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
July 25, 2016 - 12:22pm
And here is the third update of the Volturnus world map: http://www.starfrontiers.us/node/9418
Joe Cabadas

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
July 25, 2016 - 4:34pm
Something to keep in mind is that while the PCs start off as "ickle Firsties" they gain levels quickly, esp if they do well enough to check the "optional" ticboxes for XP (adventure sub-goals, good RP, etc).  They should be able to gain a level by the end of the first module.

JCab747's picture
JCab747
July 25, 2016 - 5:32pm
ChrisDonovan wrote:
Something to keep in mind is that while the PCs start off as "ickle Firsties" they gain levels quickly, esp if they do well enough to check the "optional" ticboxes for XP (adventure sub-goals, good RP, etc).  They should be able to gain a level by the end of the first module.


True, but the problem would be the training requirements unless it is for skills they were able to use.

For example, how would a roboticist advance in level? Or a computer technician?

There's no schools on Volturnus nor hypno training centers... or if you use Zebulon's Guide, microcassette tapes... Microcassette tapes? Ugh! Why dump a high-tech, sci-fi sounding thing like a hypno training center for a 1980s technology?
Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
July 25, 2016 - 8:00pm
If anyone would like to help come up with some names for the features on the Volturnus world map that I am making, please provide some suggestions.
Joe Cabadas

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
July 25, 2016 - 9:30pm
I tend to think of XP as just that- experience.  Characters on Volturnus are shooting things, fixing things, healing things, etc, so XP can be used to raise those skills even w/o the artificial training gear.

Hypno-training is to learn new skills you don't already have, or, alternately, to gain simulated experience by having information from someone else's experience downloaded into your brain.

Which btw, opens up a new source of income for characters: selling memories for hypno-training tapes.

aemonaylward's picture
aemonaylward
July 26, 2016 - 1:58pm
JCab747 wrote:
If anyone would like to help come up with some names for the features on the Volturnus world map that I am making, please provide some suggestions.


Seeing as how you seem to have embarked on this effort at least partly in response to my post, I feel I might be remiss if I didn't offer up a few place-name suggestions:

Volsapsh
Volurtsh
Volfrix
Vorionth
Vorfolx
Vortuluntux
Olsytark
Olkursht
Arkalx
Spalkalx
Srakalx
Shpurcalk
Ritnoktkalk
Sythnamnadar
Amanadstrunk

I tried to stick to a few similar morphemes – you could say they were roots in Middle Eornan or what have you – 'vol-' (city), 'kalx-' (place of), 'amnad-' (mountain).  Variations on those roots could be clustered in different areas (which were once the different Eornan nations, with their divergent tongues....

I keep thinking about the comment up-thread about changing the scale of the hexes to enlarge the area for a party equipped with an explorer.  If you scattered the original modules' encounter locations around the planetary map at even greater distances, you could continue that expansion to let a party with some means of air transport take advantage of all this newly imagined surface area.  That would let you come up with additional clusters of feature names for each of the different species' areas of control.  But it might be stretching the ties to canon way too far.  I really like that you've sprinkled in so many Eorna ruin sites.

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
July 26, 2016 - 5:00pm
Expand it too much and you wind up with the original scenario as the transportation runs out of fuel/power.

JCab747's picture
JCab747
July 26, 2016 - 5:47pm
aemonaylward wrote:
JCab747 wrote:
If anyone would like to help come up with some names for the features on the Volturnus world map that I am making, please provide some suggestions.


Seeing as how you seem to have embarked on this effort at least partly in response to my post, I feel I might be remiss if I didn't offer up a few place-name suggestions:

Volsapsh
Volurtsh
Volfrix
Vorionth
Vorfolx
Vortuluntux
Olsytark
Olkursht
Arkalx
Spalkalx
Srakalx
Shpurcalk
Ritnoktkalk
Sythnamnadar
Amanadstrunk

I tried to stick to a few similar morphemes – you could say they were roots in Middle Eornan or what have you – 'vol-' (city), 'kalx-' (place of), 'amnad-' (mountain).  Variations on those roots could be clustered in different areas (which were once the different Eornan nations, with their divergent tongues....

I keep thinking about the comment up-thread about changing the scale of the hexes to enlarge the area for a party equipped with an explorer.  If you scattered the original modules' encounter locations around the planetary map at even greater distances, you could continue that expansion to let a party with some means of air transport take advantage of all this newly imagined surface area.  That would let you come up with additional clusters of feature names for each of the different species' areas of control.  But it might be stretching the ties to canon way too far.  I really like that you've sprinkled in so many Eorna ruin sites.


Thanks. I've incorporated a lot of the names.

It would be up to the referee to decide if he or she wants to make use of the optional expanded map.

Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
July 26, 2016 - 5:56pm
The later Mechanons -- the bad ones -- could get an updated look after their civil war.

Joe Cabadas