SummaryThe PC's investigate a ruined farm in the heart of a famine-plagued land. This adventure location is presented in multiple installments.
The Effort mechanic from the Index Card Role Playing Game makes the PC’s actions more meaningful and time-bound. The Effort required to do a deed equals its hearts; each heart is worth ten hit points. So, a one-heart lock requires ten hit points of lock-picking Effort before the lock pops open.
Effort is divided into basic, weapon, magic and ultimate, each aligned to a die type. Basic effort, done through your hands and wits, uses a d4. On a critical success, you roll Ultimate Effort, adding an additional d12 to your effort total. With this simple mechanic, opening, deciphering, climbing and so on are no longer binary tasks. Effort adds tension, timeliness and the dice-rolling fun of combat to everything the PC’s do.
This stagnant bog was once verdant farmland. Five living towers, surrounded by rice paddies, supplied the surrounding communities with fresh fish and produce. During the Scream, the farm’s crop-enhancing nanites turned on the living things of the valley. The facility’s few technicians and supervisors were instantly consumed by cancer; they became the living tumors that now haunt the ruin. Most of the valley’s plant life burst into full flower and then collapsed under the weight of malignant growth. All but one of the five living towers were destroyed; the remaining tower teeters on the edge of collapse. Inside, the robots that tend the precious crops labor on, oblivious to the horrors that surround them.
- An agency or enclave asks the PC’s to investigate rumors of a cache' of pre-tech seeds.
- The PC’s discover a receiving depot. A tunnel leads from the depot, under the valley, to the farm’s underground shipping hub.
- A contact has a pre-Scream holo-map of the valley which shows a rich, productive farm. The map has zoom-in capability but cannot show what is inside the buildings or beneath the valley’s surface.
- Famine necessitates exploration of places best avoided.
Bugs whir about, disturbing the air. They bump and bite. The rice paddies are in shambles: dry and cracking in some places, stagnant and scummy in others. An easy check (Scouting, Notice, Know: Nature) reveals a few leggy wild-growing rice plants. A success yields 1d4 rations worth of rice; a critical success yields 3d4. This rice is edible and remarkably hardy, but there is not enough to create a sizeable crop. It is worthy loot, but not the true treasure.
Tumorous trunks and stems jut from the muck. Spur-ridden and misshapen bones lie ominously exposed, untouched by scavengers. The terrain is difficult and tiring. Malformed catfish lurk in the paddies, their furtive movements betrayed by quiet splashing.
In the center of the valley, the single remaining tower defies destruction. Its visible framework resembles a giant tree made of impossibly thick, loosely-woven bamboo. Healthy looking plants sprout from its every surface. The ground floor has been ripped open by some long-gone fury, leaving a dangerous gap in the structure. Approaching the tower reveals more detail. (If you can mash the two images below in your imagination and then put them in a ruined rice paddy, you've got it.)
|Singapore's Super Trees|
- At dawn and dusk, birds fly into and out of the tower. Some nest there; others are hunting.
- Giant bees visit the tower as well. Kite-sized butterflies flit about the upper reaches.
- Spidery dog-sized robots crawl around the outside of the tower, spraying and pruning.
- Did you hear that? It sounded like a goat.
- Through the rip in the exterior, the PC's can see that the lower level of the tower is stacked high with crates. Something bulbous and wrong is moving in the shadows.
Roll a d8 for each hour the PC’s spend searching the rice paddies. After each encounter, cross it off the list . Encounters 2 and 8 are exceptions; these can be repeated or substituted for the unique encounters. Allow a check each hour to find more rice if the players ask for it, with the same target and results as above. All links below go to the 5e SRD.
- A ruined tracked farm vehicle is sunk into the mud. In the cab is a nearly-unrecognizable tumorous skeleton. Getting in the cab takes an easy strength roll and one heart's effort. The skeleton has an ID badge.
- A group of 1d4 stirges attacks.
- A shiny object flashes in the shallow water. It is a data pad, with a farm inventory manifest and a map of the local farm-to-table vectors. The map can be used to navigate the supply tunnels and to find other ruins. This item accesses the farm’s systems and equipment with an Int roll. The farm data pad does magic effort when attempting to interface with the facility's resources. The pad is guarded by a swarm of quippers. A PC can snatch the data pad out quickly with a hard Dex roll. Failure means the swarm attacks for 1d10 damage. Crit failure means the pad is lost in the attack.
- The tumorous skeleton of a bovine creature.
- A security drone. It asks for ID; An ID card or the home screen of the data pad will satisfy it. If no ID is forthcoming, the drone flies to tailing distance and calls out warnings while sending data to the tower. This is loud and carries far; as long as the drone continues to admonish the party, Stealth checks are hard.
- A crashed ground car, sunk in a rice paddy. Inside is a malformed skeleton with an ID card and a revolver with five bullets. In the shallow water, a predatory mutant catfish (as a small reef shark, damage 5 (1d6+2)) attacks anyone who disturbs the car. All attacks on the fish are hard.
- An otyugh has made a wallow in a rice paddy. Its sensory organ lays on the water's surface like a large rotting leaf, while the rest of the creature huddles under the surface. The monster lures prey with images of fresh fish and clean water. Attacks on the otuygh are hard if it is in a paddy or its wallow.
- A technician, transformed into a living tumor, stalks the party. It looks like a barely- recognizable, grossly obese naked humanoid whose face is covered by a ragged hazmat hood. In a plastic pocket on the hood is an ID card. Treat the technician as a Black Pudding, including the split ability. This creature is no longer human; it is a blasphemous ooze. If playing Pugmire, any character who realizes this creature was once a human has disadvantage for the rest of the encounter.
That’s all for this week! Tune in next week for the next installment of
Harvest of doom!
I rolled up this ruin using the table in The Sandbox #1. Get it free at DTRPG!
Several of the group of ruins I rolled up gave "famine" as the cause of their ruination. When I rolled up a farm, and I had to ask why these places were in a famine when a farm was nearby. I decided the infrastructure had somehow broken down, and that the people responsible for it had died. In addition, the outlying areas are spooky, hard to traverse and stalked by monsters.