Part of Epic Tier included individual players each running a one-shot adventure of their choice for the rest of the party.
Graham’s adventure was to have the players called by a summoning ritual to the world of Eberron. The gleeful conjurer there explains that they have been called to save the world from the dreaded Tarrasque (see Dragon 418). While the players may prevail, the damage has been done: the Tarrasque’s rampage is cataclysmic, turning the nation of Cyre into the Mournland.
Later, without warning, Ko’gash has a seizure and falls unconscious. Investigation reveals his astral seed, a gift from Kord for his epic destiny, has been poisoned by Dragotha working on Ghuladon‘s orders. As the venom corrupts his astral seed, Andrew runs his adventure: steal an antitoxin from the Demonweb Pits. This layer of the Abyss is home to the Demon Queen of Spiders, Lolth. The players escape from the horrors of that place and restore Ko’Gash to health.
Whilst adventuring around Sigil the players encounter a shopkeeper selling “Technological curiosities of an unusual nature”. Most of the items therein are warforged components or artificer implements, but one in particular stands out: a tablet of silvered glass, with moving images as if reflected by the surface. The shopkeep (a Cyclops by the name of Aldrin) explains that he bought it along with a few other items from a “mold man”, who claimed it was looted from the ruins of a place called The Barrier Peaks. This is the last item from that inventory.
The tablet behaves much like an iPad in some indecipherable language; a character who knows Deep Speech gains a +5 on Intelligence checks to operate the device. Aldrin has fiddled with it but the only result has been the opening of a portal to some instantly lethal plane. All the gnomes he’s sent through to investigate have suffocated, incinerated, and exploded, so he hasn’t done anything with it since. It’s not for sale but he’ll activate it for the players and promise to pay a large sum for anything they might bring back from the other side of the portal.
The portal opens onto the surface of the moon. The tablet is an artifact left by an alien race when a portion of their ship crashed centuries ago in the Duchy of Geoff, on the world of Oerth. The module was ejected after an outbreak of Russet Mold, but the quarantine was unsuccessful and the rest of the ship crashed on the moon. Exposure has killed off the remainder of the crew and virus, but constructs and the security system are still active.
Spacewalking is instantly lethal for obvious reasons. Creatures who pass through the portal or start their turn exposed are deafened, take 15 radiant damage, and immediately begin to suffocate. Speech is also impossible but telepathy functions normally. The portal is on the outside hull of a starship and if they can make it to the airlock on the other side (by going around or over) and figure out how to open it, they can breathe normally in the ship’s interior, only contracting the disease Russet Mold.
The ship’s layout is that of a classic Doom level. The interior has many constructs and sentries activated to kill the mold men all the crew became; they attack non-aberrants on sight until destroyed. Among the ruins are littered various technological artifacts as listed in Dungeon Magazine, including powered armor which allows the players to spacewalk. The ‘end boss’ is a the ship’s main computer, an epic beholder named Zal the Destroyer, who engineered the fungus to crash the ship into the world and free itself. Stranded on the moon, it wants to use the players’ magic items to empower itself to leave the derelict. When bloodied, the beholder dons a Greater Iron Golem suit of powered battle armor (reminiscent of the Mother Brain battle from Super Metroid). As a reward the players get all kinds of neat goodies, including a Portal Gun.
Next week: The war gets personal.