The Mercenary Shrine
In the ramshackle town of Spear Malice only a single building still stands. It has defied the Great War and its spears of light; nuclear blasts that devastated the entire state, and ever since then it has defied the onslaught of time.
Its halls have not yet been breached, and a wealth of technological treasure await, ripe for plunder! But there are others who crave this treasure; others that will do anything to claim it.
During the Great War the border town now known as Spear Malice was hit hard. Caught within the blast radius of a nuke, most buildings came toppling down. Of course, the century and a half since that time has not helped either, and today Malice is a truly ramshackle place where the Divine Spear Tribe holds sway, and their Warlock King, John One-Eye, is the undisputed master of the nearby wastes.
It is in this town, on the intersection between Wolf Path and the Path of the Ancients, that the Mercenary Shrine stands; a circular building, like a silo on four pillars, apparently unharmed by the blast that tore down the rest of the town.
There was something solemn about the only building that still stood unharmed, a certain virtue or innocence. A square logo with a dot inside was painted on both north and south side of the edifice. It seemed the tribals used it for throwing contests, for the southern side logo was dotted with splashes, dents and marks. For a moment it seemed like someone was moving on the top of the huge tower, but it must have been a trick of the eye, for no rungs or ladders were visible. Brushing the dust and sand from the beige flak jacket he had found in an abandoned military depot, Kendall Bruise-Bone ran crouched towards the rusted wreckage of trucks he spotted beneath the edifice. It would not do to be spotted by the natives, for they were hostile and their preferred meat was that of men.
Room #1: The Entrance
The silo shaped edifice has been placed on four massive pillars of steel and concrete, so the entrance is actually in the open air below the building. Bricks from the collapsed neighboring buildings seems to have blasted into this region, and several ancient trucks that are parked here have fist sized holes in them, and are partially covered in earth and bricks. Gangs of tribal savages often walk the streets near this area, so PCs must either keep quiet, have considerable diplomatic skills or be ready to fight.
An elevator is visible inside one of the steel support pillars, and its doors are wide open. Inside they will find cracked mirrors on the walls and the ceiling. The control panel has been destroyed, the remains bent and broken on the floor, and now a wide array of wires emerge where it was once placed. The wires still carry an electric current, which will be clear from the jolts they will get if they touch two wires at once. Also there is a hatch in the ceiling, but it is locked. Marks suggest that someone has tried to break open the lock, but obviously they failed.
To get up the PCs must either use their electrical skills and send the elevator up, or they must pick the difficult lock and climb up to the floors above. Note that a certain code has to be entered to access the upper levels, and at the moment the PCs have neither the codes nor the interface required to enter the codes. Therefore the elevator doors will only open on the first room inside the facility (the second 'room' of the dungeon).
- There are three digits on the panel: 0, 1 and 2.
- 0 would be the entrance, i.e. here. 1 is the control room and 2 is the Mercenary shrine.
Setting the mood for the remainder of the 'dungeon':
- The nuclear power supply of the Mercenary Shrine is fully operational, and a hatch down to it can be found under one of the collapsed trucks, but the wires carrying the power to the building above was slightly damaged during the nuclear blast. This means that the power is almost stable, but on random intervals the power goes down, stopping the elevator and covering the rooms in a blanket of utter darkness. Only the implants of Luc - the cybernetic ghost, the space craft and the sentry drone will remain powered on during these short periods of no electricity.
Room #2: The Control Room
Projections are shown on the walls of this rotund chamber. Several projections show the devastated areas of the surrounding town, while one shows some sort of armoured bipedal robot pacing back and forth in another rotund chamber, where red banners hang on black walls, a huge, oval table dominate the room and skeletons litter the floor. If the PCs change active cameras with the control panel (described below), more rooms can be seen:
1) A circular hangar with black walls and a brown military space craft (if they open the hangar roof while watching the camera feed from the room, they will notice tribals entering the hangar from above, prodding the space craft with their spears and screaming jubilant).
2) The entrance, now overrun by tribals pointing at the elevator and screaming.
3) The room the PCs currently occupy.
In a large chair, its leather black and comfortable in spite of the years, a skeleton is seated. Its spine has been reinforced with black metal alloys from the neck and up, and the unmistakable soft whirring of awaking machinery can be heard from within its skull. On a closer look the PCs realize that the skeleton had cybernetic implants in life and the left side of the skull is covered by the same black metallic alloys as the neck; light emitting diodes bathe the inside of the skull in nuances of green and red. The back of the skull, and the chair behind it, has been blown away, a shotgun still in the hands of the skeleton. The skeleton will move its neck and seem to follow the PCs, its vision enhancement implant pinpointed on the face of the closest PC. The rest of the skeleton is quite dead and unmoving. In front of the skeleton is a huge control panel, briefly described above, and the locks barring the elevator doors from opening at the upper levels can be opened with it (successful computer skill use).
Any PC with devices that can communicate via short wave radio, or has a wire with the RJ2001 jack needed to connect to the machinery, may converse with the deceased mercenary, or what remains of it. It seems the mercenary had invested in major optical enhancements, targeting systems as well as memory storage implants. This means the dead cyborg remembers who it was and what has happened. Unfortunately there is a small malfunction in the hardware, caused by the suicide, and this makes the cybernetic ghost (as beings such as this are called) quite difficult to communicate with. Any eloquent and diplomatic PC can persuade the cyborg to provide much info however:
1) The cyborg knows how to unlock the lock on the upper levels.
2) The cyborg knows that the sentry drone upstairs can be hacked, and that it is vulnerable in the rear of its neck.
3) The cybernetic ghost remembers how to power up the space craft on the uppermost level.
4) The ghost also remembers how to open the retractable roof panels, to make the space craft's take off a little more convenient.
The PCs can also choose to rob the skeleton of its implants. The skull can also be separated from the rest of the skeleton and, if so, it might turn out a reluctant and difficult, but valuable, ally. The cybernetic ghost still refers to itself as Luc, a 44 year old mercenary. (Its correct age would be 195 years, given the time it has been trapped here, but that is something it will not acknowledge).
- Luc committed suicide after he realized what had happened. Half of his skull has been blown away and the shotgun is still in his skeletal grip.
Room #3: Mercenary Shrine
This room is the mercenary shrine, or the contract room, in which potential employers discussed with the leaders of the mercenary clan. The room is basically a meeting room, with a huge, black oval table at the center and many luxurious chairs surrounding it. At the far end of the chamber is an altar of sorts, the altar of contracts, in which agreements are kept. The rule is to honour the contract, religiously, or break the contract at your peril. Nowadays the PCs might find that the old, rotting contracts disintegrate at touch. A dog tag on a chain with two teeth lies discarded among the contracts. 'Cole Â‘Durmenthir' Anderson' is the name printed on it.
Of note in this chamber are the number of skeletons strewn on the floor, the assault rifles hung on the walls or scattered amongs the fallen and the fully operational sentry bot that stands astride the meeting table, in battle position, waiting for the PCs to exit the elevator. The robot is well armoured and well powered. It has kept vigil for the last century and a half, never failing and never pausing. When the nuke hit, the electromagnetic pulse did not penetrate the solid walls of the shrine, but the sentry bot assumed an attack was underway and in the resulting chaos it started killing the potential employers that had attended a meeting. As the shocked and dazed mercenaries tried to stop the sentry bot, it categorized them as enemies too and ultimately killed the twenty people attending the meeting. This compelled Luc, the former mercenary with cybernetic implants, to shut down the elevator from the control room.
The exact details of the robot is left up to the GM in question, but Luc, the cybernetic ghost, will inform the PCs that its frontal armour is formidable, requiring heavy guns to breach, but some essential neck cables are vulnerable to attack. This information can also be gleaned by PCs using the surveillance cameras to their full advantage. Also, if possible, the sentry bot will not use projectiles (it has been programmed to keep the facility as intact as the situation allows).
The elevator stops on this level. A ladder leads up to a hatch in the ceiling, and the hangar above.
- Extremely skilled hacker PCs can connect wirelessly to the bot and hack it, preferably from behind shelter. Its firewalls and passwords are rather good, but not impossible.
Room #4: Hangar
The hangar has walls and floor painted black, with a thick, yellow H painted on the floor, a circle surrounding the H. On this letter, H, a flat, broad spacecraft stands. Its hull has been painted military brown. Its gangplank has been lowered and entrance is possible. For the space shuttle to take off, the roof doors should be opened, but it is possible to crash through them if they put the thrusters on full. (It is likely that this will damage the rudder and hull).
If the roof doors have been opened, the room will be occupied by eight tribals wielding spears and knives and crossbows. They will squat atop the space vessel, some even having gone inside to study this ancient piece of wonder. The tribals have no skill at electronics and computers, so they are limited to poking and punching random buttons. If the GM thinks a military space shuttle is too great a reward, he should have them push the wrong buttons and crash the shuttle half way through the wall. It will still contain much desired spare parts and can eventually be repaired by the stalwart PCs.
Additionally the tribals, already having found the tracks of the PCs, have realized the elevator is now functional and will be approaching from behind too. The PCs should find some choke points, and quick, for this battle is about to become hot.
Combat Set Up:
If the roof panel has been opened: The two sentinels atop the tower were quite surprised when the roof began to slide beneath their feet. To their wonder they discovered the hangar beneath and whistled to six fellow tribals on the ground, who promptly climbed the tower using the ropes that were dropped from above. These eight are exploring the hangar even as the PCs emerge from the hatch. They will remain in hiding, but the two ropes hanging from above should warn the PCs that they are not alone.
Regardless whether any tribals are in the hangar: The PCs did not ascend the elevator shaft unnoticed, regardless whether they ascended by using the elevator or by climbing. Several tribals followed their footsteps and, unless the PCs were cunning and sealed the elevator doors programmatically, they will assault the PCs from behind. Any assault rifles left in the Mercenary Shrine will be picked up. Though of little or no technical skill, there are tribals who know how to operate these. There seems to be no end to the savages, and the PCs must stem the flow themselves, either by sealing off the hatch, sealing the elevator or leaving (using the shuttle). If the shuttle is disabled it should prove quite a task to escape, but diplomacy, stealth or brute force might win the day.
If the PCs hacked the sentry bot: The sentry bot is online and will defend the PCs to the best of its abilities. It uses its hands to choke, punch and disable and, just to invoke fear, it sometimes rips throats and hearts out of the bodies of its opponents. It will employ firearms if the going gets too tough.
About the tribals:
The tribals attack like hunters would, using cover then throwing, or shooting, spears and bolts at the PCs. Some tribals have molotov cocktails and will not hesitate to throw these. In melee they will use spears and knives.
John One-Eye, the Warlock King of Spear Malice:
A huge individual, one eye torn from its socket, will eventually come into view, pushing his minions forward. This is John One-Eye, the Warlock King. To these tribals, John's advanced tech is nothing short of magic and they fear and dread the veteran soldier, handing him their daughters and part of their loot. John is a tough nut to crack, wearing full body armour and wielding two Beretta 9mm handguns. John also has three hand grenades that he does not hesitate to use, even should one of the tribals be caught in the blast. At the end of the day he prefers watching from a distance, but if enough of his men are slain he will come, for he has sought the contents of the tower for a long time and is not about to let the PCs get away with it all. (John's status as Warlock King hails from his guns, his grenades, his body armour and the laptop in his backpack). Note that John has no skill with pick locks and electricity, but should he gain access to the control panel he will be able to open and close doors as he see fit.
Room #5: Spacecraft
The space craft, or space shuttle, has room for ten passengers and their gear. Its cockpit has room for one pilot, but it can be flown fully automated. Its currently plotted course is to the earth orbit space station, Tellus 1, but that space station was blown up in the initial days of the Great War. The three other destinations also seem to be dead ends, though the PCs must travel there to discover this. In the end the shuttle is fast, has enough fuel to fly for two days, but is limited in matters of available space. If the PCs have other vehicles or animals, or a great deal of cargo, it will not be able to transport it.
For the GM that is not ready to just hand out a fully functional space craft, the tribals could disable it (as explained above), or it could be in a state of disrepair. In any case: It will fetch a decent price anywhere, and most potential buyers will not be able to cash out even a fraction of its worth, though the PCs will still prosper. The truly devious GM will let the space craft have a serious malfunction, but this will not be revealed until after take off, when the systems begin to report one critical malfunction after another. Centuries of no service and maintenance just can't be healthy...
In association with Johnn Four, and all the fine folks subscribed to his Roleplaying Tips Weekly mailing list at, we bring you our first collaborative Quest.
Room One: Entrance and Guardian - There needs to be a reason why your dungeon hasn’t been plundered or why your adventurers are the ones for the job.
Room Two: Puzzle or Roleplaying Challenge - A trial that cannot be solved by steel alone.
Room Three: Trick or Setback - Build tension through tricks and setbacks and give them a double-dose of gameplay such as more combat or another roleplaying challenge.
Room Four: Climax, Big Battle or Conflict - The final combat or conflict of the dungeon.
Room Five: Reward, Revelation, Plot Twist - The dungeon is complete but what is it about this dungeon that made it different or memorable. What kind of mystery have they discovered, what kind of reward have they won, and what kind of information have they recovered?
Submissions to the quest will each earn an extra 15XP can be inputted on the site as normal or can be emailed to Johnn at roleplayingtips.com.
Prizes for this quest include a D&D Icons Gargantuan Black dragon from Legend Games, MyInfo Personal Reference Software licenses from Milenix Software, DCC #46 Book of Treasure Maps – DCC #$7 Tears of the Genie - #50 Vault of the Iron Overlord from Goodman Games, and 1 on 1 Adventures #5 Vale of the Sepulcher - #6 Shroud of Olindor - #7 Eyes of the Dragon - #8 Blood Brothers - Advanced Adventures #3 Curse of the Witch Head from Expeditious Retreat Press. Winners for these prizes will be chose randomly so every submission has an equal chance of winning. Also, all the quest submissions will be combined and edited with what the folks at Roleplaying Tips come up with and they all will be offered back to the community.
------------ Strolen's Citadel Quest, Five Room Dungeon was an awesome collaborative success. The total amount of quest submissions between Johnn's Roleplaying Tips and the Citadel was a whopping 87 Five Room Dungeons! The winners of this set were chosen randomly so congratulations to all. But here are those that won a gift from the sponsors: Gillian Wiseman Tyler Turner Nik Palmer Daniel Burrage Uri Lifshitz Clayton Blanchard Jean-Christophe Pelletier Jason Kemp Pirate Queen Wulfhere Valadaar Thewizard63. Congratulations to Everybody!!!
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? Responses (15)
Well, this is just awesome!
Don't know where to start so just, really good job!
Realy good sub AG, great details and just ready to slot on in a campaign! It makes a nice location. Personally though, instead of disabling the shuttle, I'd have it targeted by dormant defense systems, providing another twist to the escapade (and a few tense minutes of flying)
(and nice reference to Durmenthir too! cool!)
Just had to have the reference ;)
LOVE IT TO DEATH
If I was running a futuristic game this would be right at home.
- Toilets can be found in narrow booths along the wall in the control room and the shrine itself.
- Food and drink vending machines can be found in the shrine. The food is no longer edible.
- Pull out beds are in the walls of the control room and were meant for use by half the night shift. The mercenaries usually did not sleep in the Shrine, but in the town itself.
- Originally the Mercenary Shrine was the mission control center where the leaders of the mercs gathered. The Mercenaries were then known as the "Epsilon Security Group" (by potential employers), or as "Square Aim" by the Mercs themselves. Digital archives will keep referring to the "Epsilon Security Group" while Luc is accustomed to calling the Mercenaries for "Square Aim Mercs".
AG, your adventures never fail to impress! An excellent mixture of high technology and post-apocalyptic culture!
I am suitably impressed. Well done.
I get a genuine feeling of the genre from the submission; the rest has been already said. Great work, AG.
Vote Updated upon reflection...
Missed this one. Awesome! Details and precision, a tightly wrapped AG scenario. Little things impress me as usual, like naming a town 'Spear Malice'.
Damn, this setting seems promising!
That AG guy sure is awesome! :p
Bump and an HoH. Awesomeness! Visceral, in-your-face adventure.
Correcting old wrongs by voting and commenting. As a lesson for our newer users: Vote and comment on stuff you have read at once, or else it will soon be "out of sight out of mind".
This "dungeon" is sublime, terrific and is pure "plug&play" material. I would love to run this as a one-night session. If I do I will be sure to let you know how it went.