“You hear creaking, churning and hammering long before you see the huge cog wheels. The flow of the river slows and finally you see the rim of a fortified dam.”
- there are watch towers on the dam and search lights looking for boats
- subsonic hum and vibration of the turbines deep beneath the ground
- omnipresend loudspeakers reporting on the current status of the fortress
- “General announcement of watch 314: no intruders, no disturbance. nominal power output is 107%.”
- “General warning on watch 576: code yellow, code yellow. Intruders were seen near watch tower 41. Nominal power output is 109%.”
- “General alert on watch 742: code red, code red. We have fighting in tunnels 251 and 253. Nominal power output is 87%.”
Themes: industrial, the necessity of things, bureaucracy
The energy generated by the river at this dam powers the space and time distortion that makes the river Styx flow in a circle forever downhill through the Caverns of Slime. The Escher machines responsible depend on a constant flow of water and the rotation of many dozens of magically charged axles, cogs, and flywheels. The damned souls manning the fortress and maintaining the machinery depend themselves on the power of the dam in order to live, assuring the creator of eternal loyalty.
The guards manning the dam fortress are various goons in exoskeletons—damned souls wearing a parasitic exoskeleton that supports them, granting them great strength, but the exoskeleton also forces them to help maintain and defend the dam.
Disrupting the power supply is possible and dangerous. Consider using yes and: assume any reasonable suggestion made by players will work, but throw in an appropriate number of complications. Here are some ideas your players might come up with and how you might react to them.
getting into the dam
- a frontal assault using captured panzer ships (see Bone Crusher): defensive fire slowly destroys the ship but cannot prevent a beach head in a protected corner; breaching the sealed outer gates takes ten rounds; appropriate spells reduce the time required by one round each; on rounds 2, 5 and 8 a three legged stalker arrives to stop the intruders (HD 8; AC 0; Atk 2 blaster (6d6 each; save vs. wands for half); MV 21)
- an aerial assault using captured air sharks or kite catapults: soon the searchlights will have discovered the flying attackers (unless invisible) and blasters start tracing defensive patterns into the air (and blasting chunks out of the ceiling hundreds of feet above); the approach takes five rounds; save vs. wands every round or be hit for 6d6 damage; after the second hit, fall and take damage as appropriate (shot down in the 2nd round: 4d6, 3rd round: 3d6, 4th round: 2d6; last round: 1d6); finding and breaching a sealed outer gate still takes ten rounds (see first entry)
- an underwater approach using magic or a submarine (this adventure does not have a submarine, perhaps your players have extraplanar help): finding and breaching a sealed outer gate still takes ten rounds (see first entry), but no stalkers will arive to defend the gate; instead, the noise attracts two giant ancient eels (HD 8; AC 8; Atk 1 bite (3d6); MV 15 swim; will grab a victim on a 20 and swim away the next round; while grabbed, victims save vs. death every round or drown unless water breathing; drowning victims in metal armor cannot swim and continue to down unless they have a way to return to the surface)
- an infiltration using captured exoskeletons: getting into the exoskeletons is easy; they automatically adapt to different body plans; after two minutes needles and tubes insert themselves into the pilot; removing a pilot will now do 5d6 damage; use open lock by anybody else present for half damage; after fusing with the exoskeleton, save vs. spells every time you act against central command; infiltration is otherwise unproblematic when inside an exoskeleton; wearing an exoskeleton also has benefits (AC 3, Atk 1 slam +3 (1d6+3) due to Str 18; MV 6)
inside the dam
- jamming the generator: once inside, heading deeper and deeper, following the humming of the turbines, you’ll end up in the generator hall; let characters with blunt weapons roll damage every round; a total of 20 points of damage halts some cog wheels; a total of 30 points results in sparks flying and strong vibrations; a total of 40 points results in dramatic power failure, red alert in the entire dam fortress, red emergency lights; a total of 50 points results in loss of control over the main axle, turbines turning loose and ripping through the walls and a major flooding in a few moments; think about the Titanic sinking
- taking over the control room: once inside, heading higher and higher up will lead the party into the control room; there are 12 goons (HD 5; AC 3, Atk 1 slam +3 (1d6+3) due to Str 18; MV 6) and their master, Leverage of Fear, an eight-armed monstrosity of steel and a few human elements (HD 12; AC 2; Atk 6 blades (1d6 each); MV 9; two shields it can use as a last defense to block a mortal blow, shattering the shield and ignoring the damage dealt); see above if the party decides to parlay
Leverage of Fear is an eight-armed monstrosity of steel and a few organic elements of human descent. It hates what needs to be done but does it anyway—maintaining the dam, picking up survivors and turning them into goons by forcing them into an exoskeleton and waiting until they are fused and therefore dependent on a working dam. It can usually be found in the dam’s control room.
Once the power supply is disrupted, an emergency response kicks in designed to fight disruption and restore power. Players need to succeed at two tasks in order to save any friends and they need to succeed at four tasks in order to prevent restoration of power. If the players don’t succeed in either goal after six challenges, they fail: they will have to make a daring escape on a speed boat downriver and flee into the Tentacle Caves in order avoid death or imprisonment in hell (improvise a cell and guardians in the Prison of Dis).
- 3d6 goons (HD 5; AC 3; Atk 1 slam +3 (1d6+3); MV 6; in combat the poor creature locked inside will be begging for forgiveness and cry for help even as it fights) have been alerted to the party’s presence by imperceptible sensors embedded into the walls and ceilings of the building
- 2d6 goons have activated a tunnel digger juggernaut (HD 12; AC 1; Atk blades (1d6 against all); MV 6; the rotating blades attack all creatures in its path with a single attack roll; it cannot attack flanking creatures)
- the party has been deceived into a low lying dead end; as they realize their mistake, a torrent of water starts flooding the room; if the party can deal 30 points of damage to the gate locking them in using blunt weapons or magic, they succeed; if the water keeps rising: during the fourth and fifth round anybody wanting to deal damage must save vs. death or gasp for air in panic; if the party fails, they may escape via small air ducts and end up loosing a lot of time trying to find higher ground
- the party is lost as the water rises; quickly ask them to reverse the following sequence: down the steep steel stair, past the gallery overlooking the turbines, down past the parked tunnel digging juggernauts, through the gate with the red and white stripes and then down the concrete stairs into the bedrock; don’t let them take notes and don’t let them discuss their answer for too long, but be generous when comparing their answers with the list
- a sentient iron golem snake as big as a train is giving chase; make sure every player is faster than the golem or make sure that the party can lock three doors behind them using magic; if the party fails they can fight (HD 12; AC 2; Atk 1 bite (3d6); MV 6; immune to magic; anybody hit must save vs. death or be overrun and suffer an additional 2d6 the next round) or they can make a desperate escape using emergency floats down waste tunnels and end up in the Tentacle Caves (see below)
- the tunnels are flooded with poisonous gas; save vs. poison or loose consciousness for half an hour (no waking using ordinary means); soon after four mechanical hounds will show up (HD 4; AC 2; Atk 1 bite (2d6); MV 12); again, the party can make a desperate escape using emergency floats down waste tunnels and end up in the Tentacle Caves
If the party flees into the Tentacle Caves, they will have to face a group of 1d6 stone polyps (HD 6; AC 0; Atk 1 bite (2d6), 8 tentacles (save vs. petrification of fall unconscious and be dragged towards the mouth); MV 3). Remember that this location is the complication arising from having failed at the previous challenge. That’s why there is not a lot of treasure or information to be found in these caves. Allow a thoroughly beaten party to emerge without a fight if they sacrifice important equipment and significant treasure.