DM Screen 45 – Fire and Shadow

This part of the story focused on small groups of different characters performing specific missions at different locations in the Star Wars universe, all of which would contribute in some way to the storyline’s ultimate conclusion. However, I also wanted to make sure not to let up on the pressure I was putting on the players in the meantime. This mission, in which the PCs assault Doom’s fortress on Mustafar, was intended to be more straightforwardly combat-centric than the rest and contains a very high concentration of fight scenes, including an encounter with one of the Praetors at the end. I’m always open to allowing players to steer a story in unexpected directions, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes stack the odds against them, and this was one of those times.

The five of you gather around a table displaying a series of glowing blue holograms above it. In the center of these holograms is a single towering fortress: the structure that contains the time platform somewhere within its depths. According to your intelligence, the fortress is nearly impregnable: it is positioned with a huge lake of lava on one side and a perilous cliff face dropping hundreds of meters down on the other side, while its outer walls are impervious to all but the most powerful of ship-mounted cannons. The leaders of the League floated some ideas to you before you left: you could potentially set your ship down on the other side of the lava lake and ride speeder bikes across it; you could set your ship down at the bottom of the cliff and attempt to scale up to the fortress itself; you could try to navigate through the cave systems beneath it to come at it from below; or you may come up with another idea altogether. Whatever you do will have to be done quickly, however, as the fortress is full of guards that will immediately seek to eliminate any threat that rears its head.

If they land by the lake: You see the lake of lava stretching out, a vast pool that glows like a bonfire, dotted with the occasional black spot of still-solid rock floating in its slow currents. Gray smoke rises in columns from numerous places on the surface of the lake, and on the far shore you see the dark, looming shape of the citadel.

Partway across the lake, a lava eel (stats below) rises up from the lava and will attempt to eat as many heroes as possible.

By the cliff: A cliff of black volcanic rock stretches up hundreds of feet above you. Jagged protrusions extend chaotically out of and into the cliff face, promising an unpredictable climb. A single blazing stream of lava drops from beneath the citadel at the top of the cliff, collecting into a large smoking pool at the base of the cliff.

As the PCs begin their climb, a lava eel (stats below) will rise up from the pool behind them and attempt to bite them off the side of the cliff.

Lava Eel (you see only the head and neck of this creature, a serpent whose underbelly is a purple so dark it almost looks black against the glowing backdrop of the lake of lava it emerges from. The top of the creature is covered in a hard, bumpy shell several shades lighter than its underbelly, and its eyes are protected by lenses of yellow crystal. It opens its jaws wide enough to swallow a human whole.)
F: Gd
A: Ex
S: Am
E: Mn
R: Fb
I: Pr
P: Pr

Health: 155

Fire Resistance: ShZ

Through the caves: The difference in air temperature between the surface of the planet and the interior of the cave is shocking. Here the tunnels are narrow and twisting, carved from ancient lava flows and reshaped by dramatic tectonic activity. The going is slow—your scans indicate that there is, indeed a path up to the citadel through these caves, but finding and staying with the correct path is a long process that involves quite a bit of backtracking, guesswork, and occasionally needing to climb a hundred feet or more up a claustrophobically narrow chimney of rock.

No combat encounter with this one—the heroes will have to make five consecutive Reason checks to navigate the cave system (with Yellows counting as two successes and Reds counting as three) before they can make it up to the citadel. Any character that rolls a White on these checks takes 10 damage from an unexpected fall, a blast of subterranean heat, or just exhaustion.

The fortress looms above you, hundreds of feet of metal ending in a pair of spires reaching toward the darkened sky, partially eclipsing a gas giant hanging out in space. This is Doom’s secret citadel, wherein lies his greatest weapon of conquest in this universe.

(…)

The interior design of the citadel is equal parts fortress and cathedral, with high ceilings, rows of pillars, and shadowed corners. Red lights placed at intervals mean that the interior alternates between blood red illumination or inky darkness.

Run the next two combat encounters in locations that make sense depending on how the PCs decide to move through the citadel.

Encounter 1: Citadel Guardsmen (stormtroopers in red and black armor) (10)
F: Ex
A: Gd
S: Gd
E: Gd
R: Ty
I: Ty
P: Ty

Health: 50

Blaster Rifle: Ex damage

Encounter 2: Doombots (5)
F: Ex
A: Gd
S: Ex
E: Rm
R: Ex
I: Ex
P: Ex

Health: 80

Gauntlet Blasters: Ex damage
Flight: Ex

Outside the time platform chamber: You step into a long, wide room lit from below with red light. A window overlooking the desolate Mustafarian landscape takes up most of the wall to your right. At the far end of the room is a single massive blast door, beyond which, your intelligence suggests, is Doom’s time platform. The only path to the door from where you are is a single narrow catwalk (with no railing, in the Imperial style) with a large round platform halfway across. Standing on the platform is a humanoid figure dressed in a simple floor-length black robe belted at the waist. A hood covers the top of his head, and his face is obscured behind a black mask, featureless except for the dark eyes. “There haven’t been many invaders to get this far into the citadel before. Luke Skywalker was the last. But not even he was able to get past me. You won’t be any different.”

Shortly after this fight begins, a rancor will pull itself onto the catwalk from below.

Kylo Ren
F: Rm
A: Ex
S: Gd
E: Rm
R: Gd
I: Ex
P: In

Health: 90            Karma: 70

Lightsaber: Str+14 damage, ignores Body Armor
Affect Mind: Ex, can be used to alter a target’s perceptions or induce a suggestion
Force Grip: Ex damage, ignores Body Armor
Telekinesis: Rm, can roll as a reaction to catch incoming projectiles (including energy attacks)
Empathy: Gd
Telepathy: Ex, can use to inflict psychic damage or to induce unconsciousness (target must roll Psyche to resist)

Rancor
F: Gd
A: Pr
S: Mn
E: Un
R: Fb
I: Pr
P: Pr

Health: 189

When the PCs approach the blast doors at the far end: The blast door leading to your target suddenly begins to glow as you approach. You see a series of glowing magic runes covering the surface that shine brighter the closer you get. None of you are especially skilled in magic, but it definitely looks like there are numerous mystical security measures in place here.

There are a total of seven magical runes on the door. If the door is to be opened, all seven will have to be dealt with. Failure to do so will cause them to trigger.

1: A blast of fire. Deals Ex damage; target can make an Agility + Improved Dodge check to cut the damage in half (Green or Yellow) or avoid it entirely (Red).

2: A blast of acid. Deals Rm damage; target can make an Agility + Improved Dodge check to cut the damage in half (Green or Yellow) or avoid it entirely (Red).

3: A blast of lightning. Deals In damage; target can make an Agility + Improved Dodge check to cut the damage in half (Green or Yellow) or avoid it entirely (Red).

4: A blast of toxic gas. Deals Am damage; target can make an Agility + Improved Dodge check to cut the damage in half (Green or Yellow) or avoid it entirely (Red).

5: A blast of intense cold. Deals Mn damage; target can make an Agility + Improved Dodge check to cut the damage in half (Green or Yellow) or avoid it entirely (Red).

6: The target must make an Endurance check or be turned to stone.

7: The target must make a Psyche check or be sent to another plane.

Yeah, I ripped off prismatic spray from D&D. No, I don’t regret it. We got statue Dante out of it—why would I have any regrets?

After the grandiosity of the towering spire surrounded by lava and the ominous rooms lit in red and filled with enemies, the final chamber with the time platform is actually quite mundane and straightforward. A relatively small room that features a short stairway leading up to a dais, about ten feet by ten feet. The rectangular floor of the dais glows with white light.

As the heroes head back to their ship: You see your ship up ahead, resting where you left it on the volcanic fields of the planet. As you draw nearer, however, you see it shudder as it begins to rise. You think at first that someone has gotten inside and is attempting to steal it, but the engines are clearly still off. Just then it moves at an incredible lateral speed, as though thrown by an invisible hand, and it impacts the lava field with a tremendous splash, breaking apart as it sinks into the lake of molten rock.

Then you see it. Standing silhouetted against the orange glow of the lava behind him, a tall armored figure, cape whipping behind him in the Mustafar winds, seemingly carved out of shadow, slowly lowering his raised hand to his side. He turns away from the sight of your ship sinking down into the lava and fixes his gaze upon you. “You have gone and pushed your luck much too far this time. If anyone would know the perils of crossing the Father of Machines, I would have thought it would have been you, Godzilla.”

Well, at least they destroyed the time platform, right? That’s something, right?

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