Stars Edge Redux
Mounds of the Mechanons
In this section of encounters, the player characters must go to the strange mounds in the southwest portion of the desert to contact the Mechanons, a strange race that evolved from robots. The player characters’ primary goal is to convince the Mechanons to join the other races in resisting the aliens. They must also find the controls for the automated planetary defense system of the Eorna and activate the system before the battle fleet arrives.
“The Eorna have told you that there existed at one time a system of planetary defenses designed to repel an attacking fleet and prevent an enemy from bombarding the planet. The Eorna do not know how many of the system’s automated weapons survive, but if the party can find the controls of the system, they can activate whatever remains of it. The Eorna know that the controls are located somewhere beneath the strange mounds in the southwest of the desert. They are able to provide you with a map to the most likely general location of the plantery defense controls.
The Eorna also know and have told you that there are some creatures living beneath the mounds known as the Mechanons. The Mechanons apparently evolved from the few robots that were left after the great alien attack in the distant past. As far as the Eorna know, the Mechanons also build other robots, so the robot population in this area may be very large. It is possible that the Mechanons are unfriendly; the Eorna have not had contact with them for many years.
After traveling to the general area of the mounds, you find the area shown on the Eorna map. It appears to be a section of desert with occasional outcroppings of scrub vegetation. In fact, near the mounds, this vegetation becomes heavier and in many places it is dense enough to provide some cover. It appears that finding an entranceway into the mounds will require some searching."
The mounds are located in the southwest area of the Volturnian desert. The party may safely travel to the area of the mounds by hover jeep. They will have no encounters on the way. The party could have obtained a hover jeep by playing Planet of Mystery. The hex the player characters will be exploring may be any one of the mound hexes of the referee’s choice.
Before playing this section, be certain that you, as referee, are thoroughly familiar wth the information in the Intelligent Alien Update File concerning the Mechanons.
The corridors within the Mounds of the Mechanons are oval tubes 2 meters wide by 3 meters high. All doors will slide open automatically whenever anyone approaches within 1 meter of them unless specifically noted otherwise in the text.
Planned Encounters (1)
Attack of the Yernoids
After the player characters begin searching the mound area for clues to the entrance, they will be attacked.
“Suddenly you hear loud shrieking sounds. A large number of Human-sized, two-legged, lizard-like creatures are running toward you, screaming, and attempting to beat you!”
The Yernoids will consist 20 individuals in a pack. They will hide in the scrub vegetation around the mound and attack the party near the area marked “1” on the referee’s map for this section. The Yernoids see the party as challenging their dominance of this area. If they succeed in beating the party senseless, they will leave, having proved their superiority. However if the party kills or knocks out five or more Yernoids, the remainder will flee in panic.
“You see that along the side of the mound there is a large pile of common rocks, possibly the remains of a rockslide.”
The entrance to the mound is behind the large pile of rocks at location “2” on the referee’s map. It will take the party about one hour to clear the debris from the entranceway. Once the debris is cleared away, the party can see a corridor leading to a large metal door. The corridor is littered with rocks and mud all the way to the door.
Security Door (3)
“You have gone down the corridor a distance of eight meters and reached the large metal door. The door fills the entire wall in front of you. It has no visible hinges. Its metallic surface is studded with glowing yellow crystals.”
This is a security door erected by the Mechanons to seal off this entranceway to their underground complex. It is a Level 3 security device. Technical characters have a -2 modifier on attempts to deactivate the security device. The door will open automatically if deactivated.
Unless a Technician successfully deavtivates the door’s security devices, the first person who attempts to open the door will suffer 3d damage from tiny laser blast sent from the crystals in the door.
Robot Guard (4)
“As you pass through the doorway into the corridor running right and left in front of you. You can hear a strange rather loud humming sound, such as might be made by some large machine. The corridor itself is illuminated with a blue glow which seems to come from blue crystals which are embedded in the corridor wall randomly.
At a distance of 4 to 6 meters off to your right, you see an alien machine on tracks. It has four metallic limbs which seem capable of extension. It is moving toward you slowly. As it approaches, it gives off strange rhythmic electronic sounds, which might be some knd of music."
The machine is a 2nd Level Mechanon security robot. Its mission is to prevent any non-robot from entering the War Room (5). Prevent is defined as ordering to halt, and then firing with a gyroc weapon contained in one of its left arms if the warning does not work. Non-robot is defined as any being who does not give the standard Mechanon recognition signal when approaching within 4 meters of the door. The robot will fight until destroyed. It has a full clip with 10 rounds of ammunition, and will melee when it is out of ammo. After it has fired one shot, the robot will begin to produce a loud, siren sound which is an intruder alarm. This sound can be heard in rooms 5 and 6, and all robots there will respond by sending one robot from each room to reinforce the security robot, and then securing rooms 5 and 6.
Characters with Robotics skills may work on this robot, using the -2 modifier which applies to all work on alien robots.
War Room (5)
The description the referee should give of this room will vary, depending upon whether or not the party managed to get past the security robot at 4 above without the robot sounding an alarm. The description below assumes the normal state of the room. If the alarm has been sounded, the referee should assume that all robots are armed and ready for combat and that the sliding door has been secured with a Level 4 lock.
“As the sliding door opens, you see before you a huge hexagonal (six-sided) room. The room is 12 meters across. There is another door directly across the room from you.
On the nothwest side of the room is a large computer bank. Two bizarre-looking machines that appear to be robots are seated in front of this computer bank, performing various functions. The robots have heads made of three large green crystals which jut out of their metallic bodies. Each has one limb plugged directly into a socket in the computer bank, while another limb at the back of the machine hangs free. This free limb has extensor-like fingers on the end. It is not immediately apparent how these machines move, if they move at all.
To your left are three television-type screens which show pictures of various areas of Volturnus. On one screen you see an aerial view of the ruins of Volkos. A second screen shows what is left of Slave City One, and the third appears to be scanning deep space. Three more of the robot-like machines sit in front of the screens. In the center of the room is a large metal table wth six small stools arranged around it. The walls of the room are covered with maps. Some of the maps you immediately recognize as being sections of Volturnus. All the maps are covered with strange lines, arrows, and other symbols. As you stand in the doorway (or enter) the strange machines turn toward you."
These machines are Level 3 Monitor Robots. Their mission is to monitor the viewing screens and constantly feed data from the screens into the computer banks. These are their only functions, other than self-defense. The self-defense function is triggered whenever a non-robot enters the War Room. The robots will then attempt to move at fast speed through the nearest unblocked door. They will attempt to reach Security Central (12).
The computer in the room is a Level 4 computer with a Level 6 Information Storage, Level 6 Analysis and Level 6 Computer Security program. It is linked to the main computer in room 15, but will automatically shut down if its Security program is violated.
Characters who succeed in getting into the Information Storage prorgam will learn that the computer has a complete collection of maps of Volturnus, including military, geological, weather, and detailed terrain maps. Also stored in this program are data concerning all movements of large populations, the numbers of Kurabanda and Edestekai in the various settlements, details concerning the numbers of space pirates who had tried to set up mining operations on Volturnus, and other data about the Eorna population.
The referee should remember that this room will be sealed off with a Level 4 lock if the robot at 4 above has sounded an alarm.
“You see before you a square room 10 meters across. The room has doors in the south and west walls. This room is filled with tables, on which are crystals in a variety of colors, many with fine wires wrapped around them in very dense coils. Against the north wall of the room are a number of machines. There are other robot-like machines in this room. They appear to be studying something in the machines against the north wall. As you approach, they turn around. You see that two of them appear to be some strange type of service robot, built to look like a small Eorna. The third robot is much larger. It looks like a large metal cube embedded with glowing crystals of many colors. As it turns toward you it is extending a long tube from the front of its body.”
The two smaller robots are Level 4 Service Robots. Their mission is to provide services to other robots using the library. They have Self-Defense programs, and will melee if attacked.
The larger robot is a Level 4 heavy duty combat robot. The long tube it is extending is the barrel of a assault laser. It is programmed for Self-Defense, Attack/Defense and Search and Destroy functions. The robot has enough power for five shots with the laser. This robot will attack the party on sight, and will not stop until destroyed.
This room itself is the Mechanons’ library. The crystals and coils are their form of information storage. The crystals and coils can be “read” by being placed in one of the machines against the north wall. Characters who spend one full hour in this room with a translator plugged into one of these machines will be able to learn all the information about the Mechanons contained in the referee’s Intelligent Alien Update File.
Assembly Room (7)
“Upon entering this area you see a large, circular room, 10 meters in diameter, filled with a variety of robots. Some of the robots are hard at work. Others appear to be lying on tables or workbenches. Some of the ones lying about are complete, others are obviously incomplete. Many tools of various kinds are scattered about on the work tables. There are two other doorways in this room.”
This is the Mechanons’ assembly area, where Worker Robots assemble new Mechanons. There are 10 Level 3 Worker Robots in this room. When the party enters, the referee should roll 1d. The result is the number of robots that will notice the party’s entry. One of the workers will immediately leave and go to Security Central to report the intrusion. The remainder will not attack, but will instead continue with their work. If attacked, the worker robots will defend themselves in melee.
Parts Storage (8)
“The door slides open to reveal a pentagon shaped (five-sided) room. The room is filled with rows of shelves. On the shelves are all types of mechanical devices; some of them resemble body parts made out of metal.”
The Mechanons store robot parts here until they are needed in Assembly (7). Not immediately seen by the party are a robot brain and two standard combat robots. They are behind two rows of shelves to the left. The brain is checking some inventory, and the combat robots are providing the brain with security escort. They are armed with Gyroc Rifles and their mission is to protect the robot brain. Protect is defined as attacking any target designated as hostile by the robot brain. These are Level 4 combat robots. The brain is a Level 6 robot with a heavy duty body.
The combat robots will attack as soon as they are aware of the party. The brain will stay back, as it is unarmed except with its two limbs which may be used in melee combat. If the combat robots are destroyed, the brain will activate its link to the central computer in room 15, and will attempt to talk its way past the party back to security central. This conversation will actually be carried on by the computer.
As soon as the radio link to the computer is activated, the computer will send four more combat robots from security central to the area by the shortest possible route, with orders to destroy the intruders.
“There is a horrible din coming from this area, even above the constant humming sound which fills all the corridors. As the door slides open you see seven huge machines which fill up the roughly 8 meter square room. These machines are apparently fully automated; there are no robots or other beings in the room. Along the east side of the room is a large rack filled with robot parts. From time to time an arm will extend from the nearest machines and place a new robot part on the rack.”
This is one of the Mechanon’s manufacturing areas. These automated machines turn refined metal into robot parts.
Planetary Defense Control Room (10)
“As you round the corner in the corridor, you see before you a large, irregurlarly constructed door. In front of the door stand three combat robots. They are completely motionless. They carry sonic stunners, and you can see laser rifles slung over their shoulders.”
These robots are elite Mechanon guard robots. They have been posted here to prevent anyone or anything from entering Room 10. They are controlled by direct radio link with the central computer. As soon as the player characters are in sight, they will alert the central computer, which will send four more Security Central Robots from security central armed with laser rifles by the route through room 10 and the temple (16). All three of the elite robots will open fire with the sonic stunners at a range of 2 meters.
The door to this room is made of some unknwon yellow metal. The door is a special Level 6 security door. Close inspection will reveal a number of tiny, needle-sized holes all over the door’s surface. Unless a Technician successfully deactivates the door’s security devices, any character trying to open it will receive 3d damage from electrical shock. In addition, a burning, jelly-like fluid will be forced through the tiny holes at high pressure, covering the victim, who will receive an additional 6d of burn damage per turn until the flames are extinguished. If the door is deactivated by a Technician, it will swing open.
When the door opens, the referee should roll a Wil check for each character looking through the doorway. Those who pass the check will see a small, three-sided room containing an Eorna computer and some small Eorna machines. Those who fail the check will see an illusion of deep space, with galaxies far off in the distance. Lunging at them out of the void of space will be a horrible beast the size of a huge dragon. These characters will panic and run in randomly determined directions for five turns or until stopped by other player characters. The effect is caused by an Eorna machine. The effect will last for five turns.
Player characters who safely enter this room will recognize the Eorna equipment. using the directions that the Eorna gave them, the player characters will be able to activate the planetary defense system.
This area serves two functions: in the normal play of the module, it is a laboratory area staffed by Mechanons. The adventure in the Mechanon mounds can be expanded by including an elevator in the north wall of this room. This elevator would lead to lower levels of the Mechanon complex where most Mechanon social life takes place. It would also lead to a complex of tunnels beneath Volturnus which the Mechanons use to travel the planet and mine the metals they need to make more Mechanons. This expansion of the adventure is entirely optional and left to the referee’s discretion.
“This room is rectangular in shape, 6 meters wide by 10 meters long (north to south). Along the southwest wall is a large computer bank. Near the center of the room is a large desk, behind which sits a being unlike any you have seen before. This creature appears to be a collection of crystals held together by metal struts aand a number of wires. The crystals are yellow and are glowing as if some type of energy were being passed through them. Along the southeast wall is an obviously dead Ul-Mor lying on a table. Two robots are examining the Ul-Mor. The other walls of the room are covered with shelves which hold jars of various types of biological specimens.”
The strange creature behind the desk is a higher level Mechanon, a mechanical being far more advanced than any normal robot here. They are full Sentient Artificial Intelligences. It cannot be deactivated or reprogrammed, even by characters with Technical skills. As soon as the door opens it will notice the party and push a button on its desk to summon two combat robots from Security Central (12) armed with laser rifles. It will then go about its normal business at its desk, ignoring the party.
If the party speaks to the Mechanon, it may delay having the party destroyed long enough to find out what the party wants. Characters with Social skills may even be able to persuade it to delay their execution until the translator has translated the Mechanon language, making communication possible. If this happens, the party will be disarmed by the combat robots and kept as prisoners in room 17. A Level 3 service robot will be sent to the prisoners to speak Mechanon into the translator until it is translated. The player characters will then be sent to appear before the Mechanon council. (This is encounter 18 below.)
If the party attempts to attack the creature, it will sound a full security alert, bringing 16 combat robots from Security Central in 10 turns armed with laser rifles. These robots will spread out in pairs to cover the area complex until the intruders are found and destroyed. The Mechanon will defend itself with a laser pistol until the robots arrive.
Security Control (12)
“This is circular room, 10 meters in diameter. As the door slides open, four combat robots inside the room open fire on you with laser rifles!”
This area is the central security area for the entire complex. There will always be four combat robots on guard inside, no matter how many other robots have been sent elsewhere. The instant these robots see the party, they will alert the central computer in room 15 and attempt to destroy the party.
If the party does fight its way into this area, the characters will see that the center section of the floor can be lowered. It is in fact an elevator platform which goes to a lower level where more combat robots are stored, ready for immediate activation. Once the party has left the room, activated robots will arrive by elevator, at the rate of four per minute. These robots will seek out the party and attack until the party or the robots are destroyed. These attacks will cease automatically if the central computer is destroyed or the attacks are ordered stopped by the Mechanons. The player characters will not be able to operate or damage the elevator.
Power Central (13)
“As soon as you enter this area it is obvious that this is a central power generator. There are no robots or other beings in this room.”
Disconnecting the power generator will cause all illumination in the complex to go out. All machines except the central computer and the robots will stop functioning. The darkness will not affect the Mechanons; it will affect the player characters unless they have a means of seeing in the dark.
Security Trap (14)
This area is a trap to prevent any non-robot or non-Mechanon from reaching the central computer. As the characters approach this area, by any route, tell them that they see a visual scanner lens over the doorway, pointed down the corridor toward them. No matter what action the player characters take, the lens will have spotted them and activated the trap, even if the lens is shot out by the player characters. Room 14 appears to be nothing but an empty area. As soon as the party is inside, however, all the doors will seal shut and the room will drop through a pneumatic tube which runs underground to room 17. When the doors open, the player characters will see themselves confronted by twice as many standard combat robots as there are player characters. These robots are all armed with laser rifles. They will disarm the player characters and place them in chains. If the party resists, the robots will fight until the resistance ceases.
Computer Central (15)
“You see before you a door of strange design. It is made of a strange yellow metal.”
If the party has been to room 10, tell them that the door to this rooms seems to be made of the same metal as the door to room 10.
All doors to this area are identical to the door to room 10 and function in exactly the same manner. This room contains the central computer for the Mechanon complex. There is no need for computer operators here; the computer operates itself and is in constant radio contact with all the Mechanons and all Level 6 robots.
The computer itself is a Level 6 computer. It has a Level 6 Computer Security program, a Level 6 Analysis progra, a Level 6 Installation Security program, a Level 4 Industry program, a Level 6 Robot Management program and a Level 6 Language program.
Any character who is able to break or bypass security and operate this computer can obtain any information desired about the Mechanons. The referee can give the player the information contained in the Intelligent Alien Update File. The computer contains the information gethered by the monitor robots in the War Room. The character will also be able to learn that the Mechanons have been planning for some time to launch an attack on the Eorna underground complex, but that this attack is not scheduled to take place for at least another year. Finally, by reprogramming the robot control program, the character will be able to bring a robot brain and up to eight standard Level 4 combat robots to the room, with instructions to provide security for the player characters!
However, once these robots arrive, they will be followed by three Mechanons proper. The Mechanons will introduce themselves, in a rather arrogant way, and order the party to accompany them to a meeting of the Mechanon High Council. If the party refuses, or attacks the Mechanons, the Mechanons will use their built-in radio capacity to summon one warbot after another until the party surrenders.
Mechanon Temple (16)
“The ceiling here is a full 20 meters high, and it needs to be, because in the center of the area is a huge, 10 meter high metallic and crystal structure which looks something like a bipedal robot. In one huge hand it holds a laser gun; in the other it holds an enormous crystal wrapped with a golden wire coil. There are 12 worker robots in the area around this central figure. They appear to be doing nothing but staring at it.”
This area is a Mechanon temple. The huge figure in the center of the room is an image of the Mechanons’ concept of a god. It is not a functional robot, although the player characters have no way of knowing this. The worker robots will pay no attention to the party unless they are attacked. They will then defend themselves in melee combat.
Specimen Storage (17)
The door to this area appears to be a normal sliding door, but actually has a Level 4 security lock on it. The lock can be detected normally by characters with Technical skills. The door can be opened only from the outside; if the party is imprisoned here they will not be able to open the door. When the party enters the room, read them the following description:
“This large, drab room is obviously a prison cell. There are three prisoners chained to the wall of this room; an Ul-Mor, a Kurabanda and an Edestekai. All appear to be in poor physical condition, although there is nothing to indicate that they have been beaten or ill fed.”
The prisoners have been taken by the Mechanons for biological studies. As representatives of the three different races, they find it almost impossible to get along together. All three, however, will have heard of the player characters and will be eager to help themselves and the player charactesr escape. They will have no knowledge of the Mechanon complex beyond what is already known by the player characters.
The area marked “A” on the referee’s map shows the area where the pneumatic tube from (14) opens into the prison cell.
Mechanon Council (18)
The player characters will certainly end up at the Council of the Mechanons. They will arrive at this encounter in one of three ways: By being captured in the complex, by being taken in the trap in room 14, or by being contacted by the Mechanons if they ever reach room 15.
The council will be held in War Room (5). Attending will be six high level Mechanons, protected by four standard Level 4 combat robots armed with sonic stunners. The party members may bring with them to the council any functioning robots they have succeeded in reprogramming; the Mechanons believe this will demonstrate to the party members how hopeless their situation is.
At the beginning of the council, the leading Mechanon will turn on a translator type machine and address the party. His speech should be emotionless and mechanical. He should detail all the actions of the party as crimes against the Mechanons. He should then assert that as biological, rather than mechanical units, the party members have no right to live. He will then offer them an opportunity to speak.
This is the party’s one chance to convince the Mechanons to join the alliance against the aliens. Player charactesr who speak may use any Social skills they have.
If the party makes reasonable arguments for joining the alliance, the Mechanons will reluctantly decide to help fight the aliens. Reasonable arguments (from the Mechanon point of view) would include pointing out that the races currently on Volturnus pose no immediate threat to the Mechanons, whereas the aliens will certainly either kill or enslave them.
If the party, in the judgement of the referee, fails to make any good argument for joining the alliance, or behaves in a totally disrespectful manner, the Mechanons will release the party, giving them free escort out the way they came in. The party may take with them any robots they have reprogrammed, or any sent to them by the central computer. The Mechanons will let the party get outside, aand then send 10 warbots after them to destroy them. (No use having a messy battle inside, according to the Mechanons’ way of thinking.) These warbots will be identical to that described in encounter 15 above. They will attack before the party gets back to their hover jeep or other means of transportation.
If the Mechanons agree to join the alliance, the party will be asked to give back any reprogrammed robots and leave immediately to convey the news of the alliance to the Eorna.