5e campaign 4: Pilot Episode

BRADFORD UNIVERSITY GAMING SOCIETY MEMBERS AVERT YOUR EYES AND NAVIGATE AWAY, THIS IS MATERIAL THAT COULD TURN INTO A CAMPAIGN I RUN AT BUGS.

I’M SERIOUS, THIS IS LITERALLY A PLANNED OUT FIRST ADVENTURE/SESSION.

I will be paying very close attention to metagame knowledge.

Here is the first draft, annotated with []:

[Throughout this i refer to scenes as “Fast” and “Slow”. this refers to story flow. for more information look here]

[triangle brackets <> are “Don’t read this out loud” bits, it’s awkward syntax i came up with on the fly]

Arrikis Campaign Adventure 1: Battle at Trident Point
[Trident Point is a reference to “The Radio Adventures of Matt and Aalgar” web series, no relation. It’s a joke that falls ]
Character Creation
Opening Crawl
Board the Shuttles
Beachhead
Clear the Docks

Character Creation
Characters are created as normally using the PHB, playable races from the MM can be chosen, as well as anything from UA. [Players Handbook, Monster Manual, Unearthed Arcana magazine]
Every character is a member of a penal regiment, they do not need to have done something morally bankrupt to be there as the empire is controlled by a fickle aristocracy of elf-supremacists, they could have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Encourage the players to think of a reason for why their character’s there, they do not have to reveal it to the rest of the party.
One of the players is the Corporal, they can decide this among themselves who that is.
Racial Backgrounds: where each race stands in the Elven Empire:
Elves: They are on a whole imperialists, it is enshrined in law that they are superior to everyone and should be smug about it. Family, house and lineage is considered important. Unless you’re a commoner in which case you’re only slightly better than the scum.
Humans: Though like all non-elves 2nd class citizens humans are given a pass for looking somewhat elfy.
Dwarves: Nomads. Mostly exist independently of the EE as nation-fleets each worshiping a different god. Do get involved in EE as passive traders and some fleets oppose or ally with EE forces in their area when their goals align.
Halflings: Like humans get somewhat of a pass. Some groups tend to reside in secluded micronations usually in overlooked systems or frontier worlds.
Gnomes: Gnomes are fairly rare and often confused for halflings. They have a 6th digit on each hand. [They are yet to become more relevant to the setting]
Dragonborn: Feared somewhat Dragonborn tend to be blamed when a fight breaks out and law enforcement doesn’t trust them.
Half-Breeds: Filthy Half-Breeds!!! Humans please keep it in your pants.
Tieflings: As usual for tieflings people mistrust them, although now they get blamed for cosmic horror stuff.
[This is a very early point in my planned setting timeline so while things are similar to what it’d be a few thousand years later they’re also slightly different, the dominion is still an empire, the I-IW isn’t a thing, gnomes are very minor players and giff are nowhere to be found, tech is a bit less powerful. think of this campaign as the Knights of the Old Republic in my setting, a distant prequel with all the factions different]
Opening Crawl
“Only through fire is a strong sword forged” [Koan borrowed by clone wars]

Crusade! The Emperor Raktizann III has declared a war of survival against the enigmatic faction known only as The Collective, a vast network of Mind Flayers melded in unison for vague, nefarious purposes which it is foretold will bring DOOM to the entire cosmos! The 497th penal regiment have been deployed to disrupt Collective operations in the Youwy System.

Aboard the transport cruiser Tei-Tenga the men and women of the 497th stand ready themselves to make landfall on the sands of Youwy II.

[This quickly explains to the players why they’re there and what they’re going to be doing, as they would know in game]
Board The Shuttles
You awake in your cramped barracks, like all rooms aboard the Tei-Tenga it’s lined with an earthy-bark substance that forms on the interior of all Arboreal Starcruisers and lit with the dull glow of lichen spots haphazardly growing on the walls, floor, ceiling and some of the furniture. It would appear that the rest of your platoon have already left and glancing at the wall clock you can see why, you have 10 minutes to pack your kit and get to the hangar for the big assault. [We start with a scene with an implied time limit, so it feels fast and builds excitement]

<Here let the PCs interact. This is also where they get to pick equipment off their class “you can have this” list. They also get arcane weave Khaki uniform, which acts like padded armour but cooler to wear and makes travelling through the desert more bearable. Also no spell foci. When they’re all done they can move on to the hangar, the 10 minutes is in game time so equipment decisions can take longer, but if they start faffing around try to move them on>

<To all characters taller than 5 feet> As usual you have to duck as you pass through the low barracks doorway. [Giving the ship character]

You know where you’re going and make it to the cavernous but still cramped hangar.  Half of 4th company are there, 3 platoons standing in front of 2 shuttles each. Lt Ashtide, A jovial looking Halfling with an eyepatch beckons you over to join the rest of your platoon.

“Catching up on your beauty sleep eh?”

You don’t have to wait long before Colonel Sariel Arrakis arrives. The Colonel is a wood elf with brown, shoulder length hair and a wooden right hand and she has a large sword strapped to her back. The Colonel clambers up on top of one of the middle shuttle and turns to face the troops waiting below.

“In a moment we are going to board these shuttles and make landfall on the planet below us now, a planet swarming with members of the Collective and their thralls. Our objective is to establish a beachhead on a coastal town designated Trident Point. I know a lot of you are very eager to get into action after such a long trip but…” She waves her prosthetic hand  “Don’t do anything too crazy. I’ll see you all after the battle” [This speech is a slower expository scene]

And with that you’re ushered onto a dropship. The canopy closes around you and you feel the sensation of motion in your stomach as the shuttle shoots out of the hangar doors.

Beachhead
<Ask everyone where they want to be when the shuttle lands, towards the front, back or in the middle of the compartment>
There are no windows in the passenger compartment so all you can do is wait in anticipation while the shuttle makes its turbulent approach.

The canopy unfurls. Before you is a stretch of dunes perhaps 150ft giving way to a coastal town made mostly of 2 story tall brick buildings surrounding a large black stone temple. Behind it the sea and behind that Youwy, a bright spot of light in the morning sky.

The town is surrounded by an intermittent palisade wall made of palm trunks. You can see people scrambling to mount up defensive positions on the walls.  <Roll dice to build tension> A couple bright streaks tear across the morning sky above your heads.

<Lt Ashtide calls for disembark>: “All right Lads, off the shuttle with you”

<The players’ fire team are ordered to attack and hold one of the southernmost city gates>
<A group of enemies will be waiting in the dunes 50ft from the wall, they are lightly armoured guards, 6 Thrall Guards>

Thrall Guards:
Size: Medium
Type: Any Humanoid
Alignment: LE
AC: 12
HP: 6
Speed: 30ft
Str: 11
Dex: 12
Con: 10
Int: 10
Wis: 11
Cha: 10
Passive Perception: 10
Skills: Deception +2, Religion +2
Language: Common
CR: 1/8
Roll 0: 1d20+3, 1d6+1
Scimitar: Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5ft, one creature. Hit 4 (1d6+1) slashing damage.
Dark Devotion: Advantage on saving throws against Charmed or Frightened.
A zealous creature in simple hooded armour.
<Towards the end of this fight 2 of the guards nearer the pallisade throw spears into the foray with disadvantage>
<Next the players deal with the pallisade guards, 2 regular guards and one thrall psion>
Thrall Psion:
Size: Medium
Type: Any Humanoid
Alignment: LE
AC: 12
HP: 12
Speed: 30ft
Str: 11
Dex: 12
Con: 10
Int: 10
Wis: 11
Cha: 10
Passive Perception: 10

Darkvision: 60ft

Skills: Deception +2, Religion +2
Language: Common
CR: 1/2
Roll 0: 1d20+3, 1d6+1
Scimitar: Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5ft, one creature. Hit 4 (1d6+1) slashing damage.
Dark Devotion: Advantage on saving throws against Charmed or Frightened.
Psionic Blast: ranged magic attack, 1d8 damage. 150ft range On hit roll minor insanity for target.
A pale Thrall whose veiny skin has a clammy paleness to it. its face and palms have an oily blackness to them. [These guys are full of illithid juices, so they’re kinda slightly mind flayer. psionic powers and low melatonin levels included.]

[This mad dash attack is a fast scene]

<When the players have captured the gate they are out of the fight for now, but 1d4 thrall guards will attempt to retake the gate  a few minutes into the occupation. After 10 minutes the battle raging at the palisades will end, victory 497th, Lt Ashtide will arrive>

[The defense point is slow but still  tense, as is the next scene]

Clear The Docks
“Well done lads, as my old boss used to say: “I like people who get stuff done”” <for the quote he does a godfather-esque accent>
“All right, we need to move out, we’re going to be sweeping the docks”.
He indicates to the street heading right from the gate.
“Take Point”
<The journey to the docks is uneventful, but if it looks like there’s time in the session spice it up with some description of the buildings around and a few spot checks>
The docks appear to be a less permanent affair than the rest of the town. While the buildings around you are made of bricks the docks seem to consist mostly of crates under 8 large warehouse sized gazebos. A few fishing boats are in the harbour along with several small dinghies.
<from south to north waregazebo 1, 3 and 5 have d4 thrall in them. Waregazebo 8 has the boss encounter in it and will trigger when searched by anyone. 4 waregazebos can be checked at a time though only one of the four will be checked by the party. The Lt gives them first pick of the waregazebos to investigate, there are another fireteam of npcs with them at the time. During the second searching if they haven’t gone in the 8th waregazebo then they hear calls for help coming from the 8th waregazebo, and when they arrive progress to *>
[This is slow but can feature some quick bits, if they miss any enemies then tension builds more]
<FINAL ENCOUNTER> [Final Fast scene]
Tucked behind the crates you discover a thrall pulling open one of the larger crates, laughing maniacally.

Out bursts a hairy feral goblinoid creature, it seems like it has not enjoyed it’s captivity.
Bugbear:
Size: Medium
Type: goblinoid
Alignment: CE
AC: 16 (hide armour, shield)
HP: 27
Speed: 30ft
Str: 15
Dex: 14
Con: 13
Int: 8
Wis: 11
Cha: 9
Passive Perception: 10
Darkvision: 60ft
Skills: Stealth +6, Survival +2
Language: Common, Goblin
CR: 1
Brute: melee weapon deals one extra die of damage when hit with
Surprise attack: if the bugbear surprises someone and attacks them in the first round of combat the target takes 2d6 extra damage.
Actions:
Morning Star: Melee weapon attack, +4 to hit, reach 5ft, one target, Hit 2d8+2 piercing.
*
The Bugbear smashes his former prison/crate then goes for the Lieutenant <one attack on him should incapacitate him>

<The bugbear fight signifies the end of the adventure, try to wind things down here>
[This was the best looking thing i could think of the mind flayers to have crammed into a crate on the CR 1 list]
To be continued. [I want to add some sort of cliffhanger flash in the sky here, next draft maybe]

Next i’ll be posting all the art i have for the campaign.


All Hyperlinks point to stuff owned from other people.

Dungeons and Dragons and the Spelljammer setting are the intellectual property of Wizards of the Coast, Please support the official release.

Set animal taken from wikipedia article, stated to be a recreation of a public domain image.

The picture of Colonel Arrakis is licensed Creative Commons BY-NC-SA Vers 4.0, or whatever version of Creative Commons DevientArt uses. to me, Matthew Crane.

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