Volturnus idea: Encounter at Lizard Head Rock

JCab747's picture
JCab747
May 20, 2016 - 8:29am

The module “Star Spawn of Volturnus (SF2)” has the following suggested additional adventure:

Solving the mystery of Lizard Head rock. This strange rock formation is shaped like a giant lizard's head. The Eorna have always wondered about it, what it is, where it came from, who made it, etc. They have heard that there are large numbers of Yernoids in that area, but have never investigated these reports.

It always struck me that this is an odd little tidbit thrown in at the end of the series. Now, by the time your players are through with SF0 –SF2, they may be ready to go gallivanting elsewhere than being stuck for some vague adventure idea on the planet of mystery.

A little more imagining needs to be done about the Eorna. They are portrayed in the modules as being a peaceful, gentle race… a peaceful race that manufactured combat and warbots that could evolve into the Mechanons… a gentle race that had a vast underground command post with various sensors to scan space for hostile ships.

Makes one wonder if the Eorna of 900+ years before were really all that peaceful or gentle. Maybe they were as peaceful or as gentle as your average human or vrusk or dralasite… or yazarian. Before becoming a high tech race, they certainly had a number of hostile flora and fauna to contend with. Everything from Megasauruses to Land Sharks, Land Whales, Air Whales, Magma Monsters, Roc-like eagles and the such, so the Eorna couldn’t have been naïve about possible dangers when they went into space.

Now, did it strike anyone else as odd that the Sathar are masters of hypnosis and cybernetic/genetic engineering and yet so are the Eorna? Were the game designers hinting at a deeper connection between the worms and dinos?

There was a story in Star Frontiersman to that effect – that maybe the Sathar weren’t so unknown to the Eorna and something went wrong in their interactions.

How long were the Eorna actually exploring before the Sathar decided to wipe them out? I know the modules say it was a relatively short time, but a short time compared to what? Was it decades? A little less than a hundred years? Or maybe a century or two?

If they terminated the Eorna with extreme prejudice – to use a little Apocalypse Now lingo – why were there so many other species on Volturnus that survived? There were still enough proto-Kurabanda, proto-Edestekai and proto-Ul-Mor to be genetically manipulated to make into intelligent races… and then there was a failed attempt to work on silicon lifeforms and the Rogue Crystals were created.

Others have written little fill-in adventures for Volturns, such as Tom Verreult’s “Volturnus Desert Encounter” in Star Frontiersman, or Jim Young’s “Eornal Defense Installation” and the “Eorna Lunar Defense Battery” in Frontier Explorer.

There’s even another fan-created Volturnus race, the Arborean, by R. Kevin Smoot in a Star Frontiersman issue…

But now I return to Lizard Head Rock and a possible scenario for it.

So, was TSR trying to give game referees the option of making a branch of the Yernoids intelligent like the Ul-Mor, Kurabanda, Edestekai and Mechanons? Possibly. But I for one think Volturnus has enough native and genetically enhanced intelligent lifeforms. The Yernoids already seem to be a primitive race similar to the lokkuku of Alcazzar or the Sapes in intelligence.

Fan speculation – which I think I’ve read elsewhere on the starfrontiers.us site – is that the Eorna probably didn’t think the Yernoids were worthy of being “raised up” in intelligence. So, why don’t we leave them as semi-intelligent beings, probably with Log/Int scores of about 15-20 and capable of making spears and using primitive tools.

So who built Lizard Head Rock and why?

Some other Eorna who didn’t participate in the Great Mission?

Or, can we provide some other answer?

If the Eorna were capable of exploring their surrounding systems for a period of time – a century or two – before bringing the wrath of the Sathar down on them (deserved or undeserved), then they probably visited a number of star systems in the Frontier/Rim area. They might have established a few colonies too (as has already been speculated by others here on starfrontiers.us).

It is very likely that the Eorna would have encountered the Ifshnit, Humma and Osakar… (Yes, I know these races probably weren’t even in the minds of the Volturnus module writers, but allow me to continue.) …and interacted with them. A few Eorna may have been left behind on those worlds when the Sathar nearly annihilated their fellow dinos.

The Ifshnit, Humma and Osakar probably had not attained spaceflight capabilities when the Eorna encountered them, but the dinos might have sought to “improve” the more primitive cultures through education and possibly some genetic manipulation. Several hundred years after the Day of Doom, the Rim races achieve spaceflight and then Void travel, creating their own interstellar society even as the Frontier is being settled by the Humans, Vrusk, Dralasites and Yazarians.

Maybe the Rimmers went in search of their dino benefactors, found Volturnus (and probably Anker) in ruins and left a monument behind – Lizard Head Rock, before departing back to home. Every so often, a Rim ship might visit the Zebulon system with the intent of surveying it for future colonization, but then they start encountering the Sathar and fight defensive wars.

Then one day Truane’s Star and the Star Devil disrupt the status quo on Volturnus. The Rimmers detect several Sathar warships heading on a vector toward Zebulon and mount another expedition to Volturnus.

A scout ship arrives. It detects the Truane’s Star/UPF war fleet in orbit around Volturnus, but no worms, so they depower and stealthily slip by and land on the planet at Lizard Head Rock.

About this time the adveturers/Truane’s Star/UPF survey team also takes a jaunt over to the monument and… voila, you have a first contact situation.

Joe Cabadas
Comments:

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
May 20, 2016 - 5:08pm
I like this idea.  It's definitely a new take.  The only problem is that it would be really hard to "depower and stealthily slip by".  Any ship in system would be on fairly high alert and it's not easy to hid in space.  I'd probably tweak that bit to have them arrive as the TS/UPF task force is chasing down the last of the worms away from the planet in another part of the system so that there's no one there to notice them.

On a different note, I actually wrote up an entire adventure, including maps of the inside of Lizard Head Rock, back in the 80's when I was a teenager.  It was horribly cliche but I had the Yearnids be related to and a front for an extremely advanced reptilian race and had LHR be the entrance to an underground complex.  I'd have to pull out my notes for the details and exact relation between them and the Eorna.  I just realized that that map is probably over 30 years old at this point.
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jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 20, 2016 - 6:13pm
What if the eorna have been travelling around and playing with tech the found (cough Tetrarch) working at uplifting creatures as you say and the sathar were an early experiment. "And the son rose up and displaced the father.."

The sathar inherited some of this tech and we see that in the sathar bio-constructs the make like the quickdeath and the creatures in the Starmist module. 

Isolated eorna have continued the process as you say elsewhere but have been more circumspect, even cloaking themselves as mysterious god-like beings sometimes. The survivors on Volturnus have done much the same. 

But the eorna's dirty little secret is the sathar. The Sessu are simply a branch that had 1000 years to developed on their own. 

And yes the peacefully space Hippie thing is hype- they totally broke out the laser rifles for the Battle of Volkos 

The Lizard Head rock is the key to unlocking some of the mysteries. 
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
May 20, 2016 - 8:45pm
Subscribed, as this is the only post SF-2 scenario I never developed.

TerlObar wrote:
  I just realized that that map is probably over 30 years old at this point.

Perfectly preserved in mylar with a backing board or yellow/brown with ragged/jagged/worn/torn edges & corners? Condition is everything when we're talking vintage goods!
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

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JCab747's picture
JCab747
May 20, 2016 - 9:53pm
jedion357 wrote:
What if the eorna have been travelling around and playing with tech the found (cough Tetrarch) working at uplifting creatures as you say and the sathar were an early experiment. "And the son rose up and displaced the father.."

The sathar inherited some of this tech and we see that in the sathar bio-constructs the make like the quickdeath and the creatures in the Starmist module. 

Isolated eorna have continued the process as you say elsewhere but have been more circumspect, even cloaking themselves as mysterious god-like beings sometimes. The survivors on Volturnus have done much the same. 

But the eorna's dirty little secret is the sathar. The Sessu are simply a branch that had 1000 years to developed on their own. 

And yes the peacefully space Hippie thing is hype- they totally broke out the laser rifles for the Battle of Volkos 

The Lizard Head rock is the key to unlocking some of the mysteries. 


Yes, blame it on the Tetrarchs.

Yes, the Eorna were out there playing god to more primative species, spreading their "benevolence" -- maybe programming species like the Humma, Osakar and Ifshnit to be subservient to their kind. But then they ran into the Sathar...

The S'sessu were supposed to have a 10,000 year separation.
Joe Cabadas

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 21, 2016 - 3:17am
I like the irony of the sathar being the creation of the eorna. 

That they played with technology man, err sapients ought not to have tampered with and see what man err sapients  hath wrought! Death and rapacious destruction thy name is sathar. 

Sathar ship designs are actually eorna designs. Ancient hulks found on Volturnus were written off as sathar ship from the Day of Doom.

As a matter of fact the Day of Doom has a slightly different connotation in the cold hard light of the knowledge that the sathar were the creation of the eorna. 

And the eorna have a lot of shame and motivation to keep the truth hidden.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

iggy's picture
iggy
May 21, 2016 - 1:37pm
I like the Erona not being the peace loving space hippies and having a dirty secret.

I do not like making them the key secret to everything.

Voltrunus has a lot of the frontier history and mythology, cannon and fan, already around it.  I tend to want to keep away from creating more.

As for LHR.  I do like to have it be ancient, maybe even older than written Erona history.  Maybe LHR was created by the Klicks or Tetrarchs as an idol for the primative Erona to worship.  They wanted to use the Erona as soldiers/servents/slaves and they would come by and harvest a bunch every now and then and put down any advances that the Erona had made that would be a future threat to them.  Then their society falls and we have the Erona left unmanaged and they advance.  They forget that the rock was associated with their ancient gods and it becomes a place of myth and mystery.  They have ancient ruins around that they study to achieve modern civilization faster and when they achieve space flight they eventually run into the Sathar who we have often thought of having a Kilck or Tetrarch connection too.  The Sathar see the Erona as a threat to their inheritance so they follow them home and wipe them out.

It would be interesting if the Erona were the noncommisioned officers over the Sathar slave troops.  The Sathar remember this and wipe out the Erona even though the Erona from Voltrunus were never harvested so they have no idea about their previous place in the Klick or Tetrarch power structure.
-iggy

JCab747's picture
JCab747
May 22, 2016 - 2:02pm
True, the Eorna shouldn't be responsible for everything.

Maybe image that they, the Sathar/S'sessu, Clikk/Klikk and possibly others are the "child races" of the Tetrarch Societies. The Tetrarchs -- a term that means "four" so they may have been composed of four core races at one point -- either destroyed themselves, were overcome by an outside force or did the Stargate "ascended beings" thing.

We could leave the true Eorna-Sathar connection as a mystery so a game master can fit it in to a campaign.

I think though, the Eorna's "Great Mission" actually starts when they get into space and encounter more primative societies like the Humma, Ifshnit and Osakar and seek to "lift up" these races with a bit of genetic manipulation and technology transfers.

At some point the Eorna and Sathar meet and things go very badly. Perhaps as some have speculated the Sathar are on a "divine mission" from the Great Worm(s) to stomp out heretics and the Eorna fit the bill. And as Iggy suggests, maybe there were other Eorna or lizard/reptile like beings that the Sathar had previously encountered which have made them very aggressive against the Eorna and Saurians.

Still, I can see the Sathar incorporating any Eorna designs into their ships... if it was advantageous.

But back to the idea of an Encounter at Lizard Head Rock.

TerlObar's idea isn't that bad. It could still work with my idea. Instead of the Rimmers building a memorial to their fallen benefactors, they could have visited Volturnus at some point and encountered the Yernoids at LHR and thing, wow, the Eorna have regressed.

So, if a ship can't stealthfully sneak by a battle fleet, I guess the Rimmers could slip by while the Truane's Star militia/UPF Spacefleet are off chasing the remnants of the Sathar fleet off.

The Rimmer ship is detected as landing at or near LHR, hence the adventurers are sent to investigate.

A Rim World's scout might be a HS 2 vehicle and probably carries representatives of all 3 Rim races -- just so you have a reasonto introduce all three. Maybe there's even a Boon-sha that is a semi-captive of the Humma aboard and flees to the adventurers.
Joe Cabadas

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
May 22, 2016 - 5:44pm
Some thoughts:

I personally think the Yernoids might be Eorna, mutated perhaps, or a subrace that the master ruling class of Eorna had do all the menial stuff and needed mass labor for, they may just need education to get up to speed. The ruling caste Eorna would not want to do this as they have for probably thousands of years looked down on them and even with the Sathar genocide the Eorna do not want to admit the Yernoids are related, as that would be contaminating the genepool with inferior minds, inferior DNA, inferior people, mutant DNA. Let's be honest the Eorna who "survived" with high tech expensive to build toys had to be the elite, elite does not always mean best of the society as in way of brains, ethics, sanity or even culture... if the Day of Doom happened on Earth instead of Volturnus and such tech existed to preserve society (save humans) who would get the E-ticket to slumber time? 

I have been pondering who the Eorna survivors really are. Who launches egg ships? Think about it those are children, whose children, where they volunteered or abducted by the rich and powerful?

 Some humans celebrate the destruction of other humans, did these Eorna at first think the Sathar did them a favor weeding out the poor & middle class types, the unwashed masses of their society?

 Are these really the Eorna that where intended to survive? Could they be what is left of a penial system or crazy farm that had been put on ice before the Day of Doom? Who are they really?

I do not buy the Eorna where peace-loving either. I am thinking they where anything but... 

The hyptnotize factor between Sathar & Eorna has made me wonder too. Maybe both races where uplifted together by another race?

I think Sathar have had some bad run in with Reptiles in the past. The Sathar could in my opinion wipe out all life on a planet if they wanted to, yet they never seem to choose this option... why? It would be easy to kill a planet with the sort of tech they have. If they really hated other life forms they would do that. I am thinking they don't hate the way they are presented. I think something much deeper is going on. 

Maybe the lizards uplifted the Sathar, or maybe it was the other way around or maybe it goes back to a grudge match suggested in Alternity... or maybe the Eorna attacked the Sathar thinking they where all big and bad and then got bombed into the stone ages.

1 of the oldest Empires was a lizard-race in GW timeline.  This sort of makes since I rember reading as a kid in science mags about the idea of if dino's had evolved to smart bi-peds versus us monkey people. I am sure TSR folks probably read the same articles. Maybe the first Lizard-race went around uplifted primitive lizard-races on other worlds? Now this race was still around after GW game time starts, a pocket population but on Mars none the less.

Maybe LHR was made by a race more ancient than Eorna, Eorna/Yernoid ancestors?



 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

JCab747's picture
JCab747
May 22, 2016 - 8:49pm
I could go for LHR being made by a race more ancient than the Eorna.

And it seems reasonable that the Eorna would have used the Yernoids as some kind of servant species similiar to how the Yazarians use the Sapes.

Maybe the Sathar wiped out most of the Eorna with a genetic biological warfare agent -- something that was geared specifically to attack Eorna... plus bombing the dino's military and industrial centers. That could explain why so many other species survived on the planet.
Joe Cabadas

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
May 22, 2016 - 10:09pm
LHR
 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 24, 2016 - 10:07am
LHR is simply ancient and the records are lost. It's the Easter Island of Volturnus.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

JCab747's picture
JCab747
May 24, 2016 - 10:27am
Hi Tch:

This that photo from Star Trek the Old Foggies? I can't remember in my middle age... or is it from Land of the Lost?

Cheers.
Joe Cabadas

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
May 24, 2016 - 11:53am
Star Trek... couldn't resist... Land of the Lost has some great images as well.
 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."