Saturday, September 24, 2011

SoSA the 20th: Meteor Storm

This is post 20 out of 25 in the Cygnus Series of a September of Short Adventures.

Elevator Pitch: A weird meteor storm seems to be "attacking" a single town. What's up with that? And why were some people in the town found dead... clawed to death by some mysterious beast?  Hint: It's something from deeeeep spaaaaace...

One night, a few hours after sunset, the PCs see a beautiful-looking meteor shower in the sky. But the paths taken by the meteors appear unusually focused in one particular direction. If they follow the falling stars, they soon find the small village of East Byfleet (on the east bank of the picturesque River Fleet, of course). Several homes have been destroyed by large meteorites, and the morning after the meteor shower two local farmers were found clawed to death by an animal that nobody can identify. The townspeople believe themselves under a magical attack from a hermit-like druid named Vortigern, who lives a few miles upriver.

According to the rumors, Vortigern is a horrible, beastly man who puts curses on his neighbors for sport and calls down all manner of plagues and famines. The people of East Byfleet are poor, but they will offer the PCs nearly all of what they have to save them from the druid menace. Women? They've got 'em. Hale and hearty men? (For retainers! What were you thinking?) The local mild-mannered cleric (think Father Mulcahy) even offers to throw in the gold candlesticks from the town church.

Conducting the storm: For the next 5 days after the first sighting, there will be continuing chances of meteor storm activity. For each consecutive HOUR that the PCs are in or near the town, roll 1d12. On a result of 12, there will be an attack during that hour. (Feel free to roll these all out before sitting down at the table with the players.)

An attack consists of 2d6 meteorites, all coming down in a clump that lasts less than 10 minutes. Each meteorite is assumed to be red-hot and flaming, easily punching holes in normal materials and setting them on fire if possible. For each meteorite, roll for its size and target:

SIZE (diameter): roll d100...

01-16:  1 inch
17-30:  2 inches
31-43:  3 inches
44-55:  6 inches
56-66:  1 foot
67-75:  2 feet
76-83:  3 feet (contains 1 intellect devourer)
84-91:  4 feet (contains 2 intellect devourers)
92-97:  5 feet (contains 3 intellect devourers)
98-100: 6 feet (contains 4 intellect devourers)

(Wait... what? Intellect devourers? Be patient... Just note that if the 5 days go past with less than 2 intellect devourers appearing, feel free to fudge it so that there are at least 4 of them within the next day.)

TARGETS:  roll d100...

01-35:  Wild rough area (field, brush)
36-50:  Farmland
51-59:  Tree(s)
60-64:  Graveyard
65-75:  House or other building (unoccupied)
76-81:  House or other building (occupied)
82-89:  Cart, plow, or other outdoor equipment
90-97:  Animal
98-100: Person

The Druid Vortigern:  He has nothing to do with this. In fact, a small meteor destroyed his favorite tree! He's a neutral good pacifist, but his heathen ways and poor hygiene frighten the villagers. They end up blaming all sorts of crap on him unfairly. He's also only 2nd level, so he can't even Call Lightning or work any of the more powerful druidic weather spells yet, anyway. However, he can Predict Weather, so if the PCs treat him fairly, he will warn them if/when the next meteor storm is coming.

The real culprit, as if you couldn't guess, is the milquetoast priest, Father Christopher. He's in his early 50s and has retired to this little, out-of-the-way town after a youth spent adventuring as a fighting cleric. Years ago he formulated a get-rich-quick scheme that he recently put into motion. He learned that meteoric iron has many special properties (especially for the forging of magic weapons and armor), and he is collaborating with a local blacksmith to make some valuable items to sell.

Father Christopher learned that could cast a Plane Shift spell to take him to outer space, where he found he could locate big chunks of meteoric metal. His plan was to cast Animate Object to force part of the meteor to break off, hurl itself into his arms, and he can Shift back home with some valuable booty.

However, all did not go as planned. By some really bad luck, the first meteor he found was home to a clan of Intellect Devourers, and his initial Animate Object spell killed a few of them. They tried to attack him, but he popped back through the planar gate just in time! Now, enraged, they're busting off pieces of their home and surfing them down to earth to find him and take their revenge... thus the chances in the table above of finding one or more of these vile creatures in a large enough chunk of meteorite. A few of them are already in the town -- they killed a few people, but still have not yet taken over anyone's mind yet.

When the meteors first begin to strike, Father Christopher tries to play it cool. He refrains from using any clerical magic, and also tries to spend as much time in quiet prayer as possible... all to avoid the psionic gaze of the devourers. If any psionic or spell-casting PCs (or Vortigern!) use their powers, they will make a tasty target for any nearby devourers. This is ripe for plenty of body-snatcher-ish "spot the impostor" drama, of course.  :-)


  1. Nice one! Lots of interesting themes here - this is an adventure hook I'd be right at home borrowing.

  2. Thanks, Finn the Human... borrow away! :-)