The Devil’s Lair

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by Tom Stephens

You received a tip that the Star Devil has a personal hideout in the Grey Mist Mountains to the southeast. You have a general location and description of the mountain peak the lair is in. After all the trouble the Star Devil's organization has caused you since entering the Zebulon system, a little payback is in order and a raid on his private lair is just the ticket. There's even a chance he might be present in person.

This game is a raid on an unknown facility and is designed for low to mid-level characters. It is set at the conclusion of the original Volturnus trilogy of modules.

 

Introduction

This adventure is designed to follow the conclusion of SFAD02: The Starspawn of Volturnus.  It is designed as an add-on adventure to the Volturnus series and designed for mid-level characters.  It provides an opportunity for the characters to gather more information on the Star Devil and his organization if the referee so desires.

The details of the identity of the Star Devil are taken (or extrapolated) from the Dragon Article, A Volturnus Connection, published in Dragon Magazine and reprinted in the Star Frontiersman.  Referee running this adventure should feel free to modify these details in any way they see fit to adapt as needed to their campaign.

If you are a player in the Volturnus campaign and your referee is planning on using this adventure.  You should probably stop reading right here.

Referee Information

The following sections provide information to the referee for incorporating this adventure into their campaign as well as information that the characters can gain as part of the scenario.

Location and General Description

This compound is the secret lair of the Star Devil on Volturnus.  It has radio and subspace radio communication capabilities that he uses to communicate with the other bases on the planet.  He never actually goes to the other bases anymore.  While he had quarters at Slave City One, they haven’t been used since the Lair was established.  All his visits to the planet have only been to the Lair after its creation.  It is a location of rest and meditation for him as well as being his command center on the planet.

From the outside, it is well hidden.  The pirates used a large natural cave as the entrance and dug into the mountain to create the Lair.  It is completely hidden from the casual observer and you have to be right near the cave entrance to see any sort of modification back in the cave.  The only observable external feature that may give away its location is tailing from the process of digging out the compound that were dumped over the side of the mountain and for a pile about half a kilometer below the cave entrance.

The Lair is built on the location of a natural geothermal vent.  During construction of the complex, the geothermal vent was harnessed to drive the power generator for the base.  As the geothermal power is much more than the Lair needs, much of the steam from the geothermal vent is allowed to blow out through the cave entrance as it did before the Lair was built.  It is not uncommon for a blast of steam to some billowing out of the cave entrance at random times.

Inside, the Lair is richly decorated and is designed as a private hideaway for the Star Devil when he is on the planet.  The stone walls of the tunnels have been covered and once inside, it is like being in any building in the Frontier and not inside a cave.  Electric lighting fills the complex.  It is properly climate controlled and there is no indication that you are inside a series of man-made tunnels and rooms carved out of a mountain.

Tying It In

Author’s Note:  I originally drew the map for this compound decades ago when I was playing Star Frontiers in the 80’s.  I never finished it at that time, however.  Later, I revisited it and populated the map and ran the scenario as part of the Star Frontiers Virtual Con in 2012 held to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the game.  At that time, it was just a bunch of personal notes designed for a stand-alone con game session.  I’ve fleshed those notes out and present it there as a complete adventure designed to be integrated into your campaign.

 

The main task required to tie this adventure in is to provide hints to the existence of the lair.  After all the characters have been through on the planet, especially their initial struggles against the pirates, they will probably want to go after it on their own once its existence is known

Hints to the Lair’s Existence and Location

At the Outpost

There won’t be much information that can be gleaned here.  However, some radio communication between the outpost and the lair will have occurred as the Star Devil has inquired about the progress of the research activities taking place.  Thus the players should be able to find references to these communications in the radio log.

At Slave City One

The following information about the lair should be discoverable at Slave City One.

  1. Existence of the Lair – If they missed learning of the existence of the Lair from the outpost, radio logs here show regular communication between Slave City One and the Lair.  Even a cursory look at these logs would quickly reveal its existence.
  2. Location from the computer – The characters should be able to determine the general location of the lair from the computer at the compound.  The location provided by the computer should be enough to get them to the correct mountain in the Gray Mist Mountains but not the exact location on that mountain. 
  3. Location from the pirates – Interrogation of captured pirates will provide physical descriptions of the mountain side and detailed information concerning how to find the lair on the mountain.  It should also provide knowledge about the resupply schedule.  Allow this information to be learned regardless of the pirates captures, just assume the pirate questioned happens to be one of the ones that assists in the resupply of the lair.  If the characters capture one of the pirate leaders, information about communicating with the lair staff during approach could be learned.  It is up to the referee to add these details if desired.  The pirates will not volunteer this information but will provide it if asked. 
  4. Lair staff size – This can be determined from either the personnel records in the computer or talking to the pirates.  This will give the characters the number of robots and staff members at the compound to allow them to prepare properly.  It should only provide numbers and not any other details (other than possibly the race of the staff members).
  5. Lair Access – From both the computer and the pirates, it should be quickly discovered that all access to the Lair is done by jetcopter.  The pirates will describe rugged terrain that is inaccessible by ground transportation. Also, interrogating pirates should provide the characters with the passphrase to say to get in the main entrance (area 4).
  6. Lair Interior – While the pirates at Slave City One have made supply deliveries to the Lair, none of them have been inside beyond the Storage Room (#3 in the Area Descriptions below).  Thus they can provide no information beyond the existence of the landing pad, the entrance, and the storage room.  The rest of the Lair is a mystery to them as well.
At the Mechanon’s Mound

It is also possible for the characters to learn of the existence and location of the Lair from the Mechanons.  If they win over the Mechanons prior to the final battle, information from the planetary defense system will so that there have been several instances of a small ship descending from orbit to the same location in the Grey Mist mountains.  This should provide the characters with knowledge of the existence of the Lair and its location to the same accuracy as provided by the computer at Slave City One.

From Colonel Jamison

As a last resort, you could provide clues to the existence of the base through Colonel Jamison.  He was in the custody of the pirates for a time and could have overheard them talking about the “Devil’s Lair”.  He wouldn’t be able to provide much more than knowledge of the existence of the Lair.  I’d use this one only if the characters manage to miss all the other clues.

Getting the Characters to go

Hopefully, the very existence of the Lair, coupled with their experiences with the pirates, will provide enough motivation that they’ll want to seek out and capture the Lair.  However, if they don’t seem interested, you should provide external influences to induce them to go.  Some possibilities include

  1. Colonel Jamison – He could point out that the government of Truane’s Star (still their employers at this point) would want any information to be found at the lair.  Plus it wouldn’t be a good idea to leave a functioning base for the Star Devil on the planet.
  2. The Eorna – If the characters are strongly sympathetic with the Eorna, they could ask the players to clear out the Lair to help remove the pirate presence and threat from the planet
  3. Orders from Above – If all else fails, they could receive orders from Truane’s Star to investigate and neutralize the Lair before they return home, possibly offering a pay bonus for doing so.

Things to Learn

There are several bits of information that the characters can learn from raiding the Lair.  Some of this material is redundant with what can be learned at Slave City One and other information is completely new.  The referee is free to use this information, modify or add to it, and dole it out the PCs as he sees fit.  Most of this information is designed to provide adventure hooks and plot ideas to lead the characters on if they want to pursue the Star Devil off planet.

  1. The Star Devil is vrusk.
  2. The ore being mined at Slave City one is being sold to PGC.  Data here provides names and contact information for several low level PGC employees.  The transactions with PGC have been completely legal (sales of ore) but these people will know more information about number of shipments, value, etc. if they can be contacted and persuaded to talk.
  3. The Star Devil has bases in Gruna Goru, Prenglar, Dixon's Star, Araks, Athor, and Scree Fron.  This can be gleaned from logs of the Subspace radio showing that messages have been sent and received from these systems.  Subspace radio codes can be gathered (see the Subspace Radio article, Frontier Explorer, issue ??, p ??) that would allow the PCs to detect messages from these bases.
  4. He has contacts within the Truane's Star Government.  Some of these are the same as the contacts mentioned in the Slave City one while others are new.  The newer ones may be higher level officials in the government than the ones found at Slave City One.

Lair Staff

The Lair staff members are the only ones on Volturnus who know the identity of the Star Devil.  Those at Slave City One and the pirate outpost have only heard the Star Devil's voice distorted through a polyvox.

The six permanent staff members here are fanatically loyal to the Star Devil.  They will fight to the death to defend the Lair from intruders.  The staff consists of two technicians to run and maintain the power generator and mechanical systems, a roboticist to maintain and operate the security robots, two security personnel, and a cook/medic/personal valet.

Tyler Dannic

Human male

STR/STA: 45/40  DEX/RS:  40/40 

INT/LOG: 40/40  PER/LDR:  45/45

Skills: Technician 3, Computer 1, Beam 1

Equipment: Civilian skeinsuit, laser pistol, 2 20 SEU clips, knife

Miguel Rondell

Human male

STR/STA: 60/55  DEX/RS:  55/55 

INT/LOG: 60/60  PER/LDR:  45/45

Skills: Beam 3, Melee 3, Thrown 2, Gyrojet 2

Equipment: Military skeinsuit, Albedo Screen, power beltpack, Laser Pistol, Vibroknife, 4 powerclips, 4 doze grenades.

Grood

Dralisite

STR/STA: 60/60  DEX/RS:  45/45 

INT/LOG: 45/45  PER/LDR:  55/55

Skills: Projectile 4, Melee 2, Demo 1, Beam 2

Equipment: Military Skeinsuit, Albedo Screen, power backpack, Gyrojet pistol, 4 gyrojet clips, sonic knife, 1 powerclip

Darlan Beeler

Yazirian male

STR/STA: 35/35  DEX/RS:  40/40 

INT/LOG: 55/55  PER/LDR:  45/45

Skills: Robotics 3, Computer 3, Projectile 1

Equipment:  Civilian skeinsuit, auto pistol, 2 clips, knife

Xander Brundage

Human male

STR/STA: 55/55  DEX/RS:  45/40 

INT/LOG: 45/45  PER/LDR:  65/65

Skills: Technician 3, Robotics 1, Gyrojet 1

Equipment:  Civilian skeinsuit, Gyrojet pistol, 2 clips, vibroknife, 1 power clip

Krl’tk’nuk

Vrusk male

STR/STA: 45/40  DEX/RS:  40/40 

INT/LOG: 40/40  PER/LDR:  45/45

Skills: Psycho-social 3, Medic 3, Martial Arts 2, Environmentalist 1, Computer 1

Equipment:  Civilian skeinsuit, medkit

In addition to the six staff members, there are 12 security robots at the Lair to aid in defense and two maintenance robots to help maintain the complex.

Security Robots

Level:  2

STA: 100

Attack:  50%

Programs:  Restrain, Self Defense, Attack/Defense

Weapons:  Laser Rifle (set to 5 SEU per shot), power backpack

Defenses:  Albedo coating (100 pts)

Mainenance Robots

Level:  2

STA: 100

Attack:  50%

Programs:  Restrain, Self Defense

Weapons:  Standard hands (2d10)

Defenses:  Albedo coating (100 pts)

Artwork

The Star Devil’s private quarters at the Lair and its associated storage areas contain nearly half a million credits of artwork in the form of paintings and sculptures.  The exact details of the art pieces are up to the referee. 

However, much of this artwork is stolen (400,000 credits worth) and will need to be returned if removed from the Lair and its existence made know.  If the PCs return the art, they can expect to receive 40,000 credits in rewards for its return.  If they try to sell the art, it is up to the referee to determine the consequences.  The remaining 50,000 credits worth of artwork they are free to do with as the please although they will need to find someone to assess which pieces are stolen and which are not.

Area Descriptions

The various areas on the map are described below.  The map scale is 2 meters to the square

Miscellaneous Features

A. Natural Cave Entrance – This cave is invisible from above.  It is at an elevation of 1200 meters.  If the characters are searching above this altitude they won’t see it.  If at or below 1200 meters, the have a 10% chance per hour, cumulative, of sporting this cave.  If they have descriptions of the area from the pirates, give them a +50% bonus.

B. The Cave – With only natural illumination, the characters will now be able to see very far into the cave, approximately 10 meters maximum.  With this illumination, it will appear like any other cave on the cliff.  It is large enough for a jetcopter to just fit in but it requires an RS check by the pilot to avoid damage to the vehicle.  With spotlights, the characters will notice a smoothed out portion in the back of the cave if they make an INT check.

C. Laser Mounts – These computer guided lasers are dedicated to defending the passages.  They are controlled by a level 4 computer giving them a base 70% chance to hit.  Range is as for a laser rifle.  They are targeted by infrared and motion sensors and are set for 5d10 points of damage.  They are protected by an albedo screen with unlimited SEUs for both attack and defense since they are attached to the Lair’s power generator.  They have 100 structure points.

D. Secret Door – This door is indistinguishable from the rest of the wall.  However, plans for the facility indicate power running down a corridor from this room.  The door is a level 6 personal identification lock.  The recognition plate is on the couch in area 28.  It only opens for the Star Devil.  The door should be considered level 4 for purposes of detection.

E. Storage Entrance – This large door is made out of the side of the cave and is very hard to see.  See area 2 for modifiers to skill checks.  It can only be opened from inside and has 300 structure points

Main Level

  1. Landing Pad – This 14x16m area has been cleared out to provide a flat landing surface for the pirates’ jetcopters.  Only the very edge is visible from outside the cave.  There is currently no jetcopter present on the pad.
  2. Access way – This smoothed out portion of the cave floor provides access to both the main personnel door and the larger, concealed storage door.  There is evidence on the floor here (scuff marks, wheel tracks, etc) for the existence of the concealed storage entrance door (E) but the door is not visible (-30 to tech skill to find/detect defenses/alarms, -40 to INT/LOG check).
  3. Storage Room – This room contains a variety of spare parts and other equipment and supplies for the compound.  Primarily it contains a large array of machine parts and pipes and such that are replacement and repair parts for the compound's two geothermal generators.  There is also a spare combat robot and various non-perishable food stuffs stored here.  The storage entrance (E) is used to move in very large pieces.  Most pieces typically come in through the main entrance way (4).
  4. Main Entrance Hall – The door into this area from the Access Way (2) is a level 4 video and voice recognition lock.  The door will open for anyone that says “Star Devil forever” and is bearing a Star Devil insignia or tattoo.  The hall has a Laser Mount (C) at the far end that will attack any unauthorized beings that enter into the hallway.  Unauthorized is designated as anyone not bearing the Star Devil patch or tattoo or as identified as such by the controls in the security office (8).
  5. Geothermal Generator – This room contains a large geothermal generator that taps into a geothermal vent that exits the mountains here.  This vent supplies both water, after being filtered through the system in (6), and electrical power for the compound.  Excess steam coming from the geothermal vent is vented out into the cave along the route it originally took before the generator was installed.
  6. Water condenser and purification system – This room contains pumps, pipes, condensers and filtering systems used to clean and purify the water coming out the geothermal power system in (5).  It supplies the water needed for the base.  This room also contains storage facilities for the waste materials (minerals, etc.) extracted from the water that are not used.  The sludge is dried and often just dumped over the edge of the mountain.  An appropriate environmentalist roll upon approaching the base may detect some of this dumped material below the cave entrance providing a clue to where the entrance is
  7. Passageway to the power and water systems– This passageway is guarded by another Laser Mount (C) and blocked by a pressure door with a level 5 recognition lock that is keyed to only open for members of the base staff.
  8. Security office – This room is the office of the two security staff (Miguel Rondell and Grood) and is typically empty as there is rarely much to guard against.  However, any time that there is activity in the natural cave, this room will be manned by either one or both security officers.  From here they have access to controls for all the robots and Laser Mounts as well as cameras within the complex and radio communication with Slave City One.
  9. Robot maintenance and storage – This room houses a workshop for working on and repairing the bases robots.  It provides a +10 bonus to all robotics checks and has parts to repair any of the robots on the base.  There are enough parts here to build three security robots.  However, complete assembly and fabrication would take several hours per robot.  This room also serves as the storage and charging station for the base's twelve security robots and two maintenance robots.
  10. Crew Quarters – This is a two bedroom suite that houses the two security guards.  It has a central living area, two small bedrooms and a shared bathroom facility at the back through the bedrooms.
  11. Crew Quarters – The same layout as (10) this room houses the two technicians (Tyler Dannic and Xander Brundage) that maintain the power generator, water filter system, and other machinery at the base.
  12. Main passageway – Main passageway through the base.  Again guarded by a Laser Mount (C) at the far end.  The main double doors into this area are secured with a level 3 voice lock that is keyed to only open for base personnel
  13. Storage– This room stores a few weapons and defenses as well as janitorial supplies. Contents include:

    Towels, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, soaps, etc
    4 Laser pistols
    4 Gyrojet pistols
    4 Auto pistols
    20 power clips
    20 Gyrojet pistol clips
    20 Auto pistol clips
    20 Doze grenades

  14. Storage – Extra linen storage and a small laundry facility.
  15. Life support system – This is the life support system for the base.  It has air filters, heater and air conditioner as well as a water heater.  Water filtration is handled by the main water processing system in (6)
  16. Crew Quarters – Same layout as (10).  This room houses the roboticist/comptuer tech (Darlan Beeler) and the cook/medic (Krl’tk’nuk).
  17. Dining area – General dining area and lounge/conference room.  Has seating for eight
  18. Kitchen – High end kitchen stocked with just about every necessary appliance
  19. Pantry/fridge/freezer – Food storage area.  Has both a refrigerated section and a freezer.  Typically there is enough food for eight beings for three months stocked.  Food supplies are replenished bi-weekly from Slave City one.
  20. Recreation Area & pool – General recreation area.  There is a large pool as well as exercise equipment, a steam room/sauna and a large open area for calisthentics, yoga, etc.
  21. Storage – This is private storage for the Star Devil.  Has spare linens and items for his private quarters as well as a variety of smaller art pieces that can be swapped out in his private gallery when so desired.  The art in this room has a combined value of about 25,000 cr.  This room has a level 4 contact recognition lock that opens only for the Star Devil and Krl’tk’nuk.
  22. Storage – Additional artwork for the Star Devils private gallery.  Typically these are older pieces that his has moved out to make room for new ones and which haven't been shipped off somewhere else.  The art valued contained here has a value of about 100,000 cr. Also contains a small stash of bullion, worth about 50,000 cr and composed of gold, silver, and platinum bars.  This room has a level 5 contact recognition lock that opens only for the Star Devil and Krl’tk’nuk.
  23. Office – The Star Devil's private office.  Level 6 security lock on the door that only opens for the Star Devil.  Contains full computer access as well as controls for both the radio and subspace radio.
  24. Main Computer – This room houses the main computer.  Level 5 lock accessible only by the main computer tech (Darlan Beeler) and the Star Devil.  The computer is level 4 with 164 function points and contains the following programs:

    Analysis – 3
    Bureaucracy – 3
    Commerce – 3
    Communication – 3
    Computer Security – 6
    Information Storage – 4
    Installation Security – 4
    Life Support – 1
    Maintenance – 2
    Robot Management – 4

  25. Passage to Star Devil private quarters – Guarded by a level 6 security lock that only allows access to the Star Devil and the chef/medic (Krl’tk’nuk) who also serves as the Star Devil’s valet and house keeper.
  26. Living room/lounge area – Living room and lounge for the Star Devil's private quarters.  Contains a variety of couches and chairs for all races and several valuable pieces of art around the room.  The art in this room has a value of about 50,000 cr.
  27. Bedroom – The Star Devi's private bedroom.  A lavishly furnished room that is obviously designed for a vrusk as it has a vrusk style divan bed and is filled with various pieces of art (total value of about 75,000 cr)
  28. Bathroom – The bathroom contains all the usual equipment for Vrusk sanitation as well as a full body waxing station. 
  29. Art Gallery – The art gallery is both a display and work space.  The Star Devil seems to dabble in painting as a corner of the room is a well-stocked painting workspace.  The rest of the room is taken up by a variety of paintings and sculptures.  There is a Vrusk couch here that is on a rotating platform so that whoever is sitting on it can rotate without moving and view all of the pieces of art work in the gallery.  The pieces here are the most valuable of any found in the complex with a total combined value of 200,000 credits.

    Upper Level

  30. Passage and Elevator to Landing Pad – The passage way extends approximately 100 m beyond the door and ends in a small elevator capable of transporting two vrusk or four members of the other races.  This elevator and passage is hidden behind the secret door (D) in the art gallery.  It is accessible only to the Star Devil and the control is in the divan in the gallery.  The elevator ascends 600m to a landing that is near the summit of the mountain.
  31. Secret/concealed Landing Pad – This landing pad is where the Star Devil lands his private shuttle from his orbiting spacecraft.  It is a small HS 1 shuttle that can carry the pilot and one passenger.  The landing pad is concealed just like the main entrance to the complex below and is well hidden in the back of a natural cave near the summit of the mountain.
  32. Storage – Small storage area generally used for spacesuits and other small items

Experience Points

Characters who successfully clear the Lair should receive 4 experience points.  Two additional points should be awarded to characters that performed exceptionally well.  Only two points should be awarded to characters who just tagged along and didn’t actively try to contribute to the team’s success.  If the secret door to the shuttle landing pad is discovered, all players should be awarded a bonus experience point.  Additionally, if any of the base staff are captured alive, another bonus point should be awarded.