Spelljammer Adventure: Egg of Argnot
The players receive a distress signal from a powerful spacefaring civilization, the Orlaxians, who have been attacked and are on the brink of destruction. The Orlaxians have lost the war to the powerful army of the Xaryxian Empire and are seeking help to find and retrieve an ancient artifact that can help them turn the tide of the war. The artifact is said to be located in the heart of a treacherous, uncharted asteroid belt that is filled with deadly traps and strange, unpredictable phenomena.
As the players journey deeper into the asteroid belt, they discover that the artifact is not only guarded by a powerful force, but that it has also attracted the attention of various factions and enemies who are seeking to claim it for themselves. The players must navigate the treacherous terrain, fight off dangerous foes, and solve complex puzzles to retrieve the artifact and save the civilization from destruction.
But as they get closer to the artifact, they discover that it may hold secrets that could change the course of the universe forever. The players must decide whether to use the artifact for their own gain, or to give it to the civilization and risk the consequences of unleashing its power on the galaxy.
NOTE: If your party didn’t play the Light of Xaryxis here are three suggestions for ways to modify this adventure:
- This could be a prequel to adventure. Hearing about the ability of the Xaryzian empire to destroy entire planets and stars, leads the party from this adventure into the Light of Xaryxis storyline.
- The characters could get a brief synopsis for the Light of Xaryxis storyline form one of the NPCs in the story. They find out that a neighboring star system is currently or long ago suffered the same plight as the Orlaxians.
- This is the story of what happened after Light of Xaryxis when the PC’s failed to stop their planet from being destroyed. Now this band of heroes has the chance to put things to right.
Running Combat In This Adventure
Because I wanted to keep this adventure usable by all levels of character parties, I have left out HP and AC information normally needed for NPC’s that the characters may want to fight. I have also provided a range of possible monsters to re-skin.
I am recommending you use the baseball (3 solid hits) method of batting the bad guys. Add in as many henchmen as necessary to make the fight interesting. For larger groups, you may want to create a 3 tire minion system. Small minions go down with 1 hit, medium minions take 2 hits, the boss takes 3 to 5 hits.
Act 1: Journey into the Asteroid
Belt As the players journey deeper into the asteroid belt, they come across an abandoned ship that seems to have been attacked by some unknown force. Upon further investigation, they find out that the ship belonged to a group of pirates who were also seeking the artifact. The pirates have set up traps and other hazards to prevent anyone from getting close to the artifact.
Here are four deadly traps that could be located in the asteroid belt. These are primarily the skill challenges. See below for sample skill checks.
Gravity Vortex: The players come across an area where the gravity is much stronger than normal, causing their ship to be pulled inexorably towards a nearby asteroid. The asteroid is covered in jagged spires and crags, and crashing into it would be catastrophic. The players must navigate carefully, using their ship’s helm to maintain a safe distance, while avoiding the dangerous debris that swirls around the gravity well.
Magical Anomaly: The players detect a strange magnetic anomaly that interferes with their ship’s instruments, their magic items and spells causing them all to malfunction. They soon discover that the anomaly is emanating from a nearby asteroid, which is covered in a dense layer of metallic ore that creates a powerful magical field. The players must navigate around the asteroid while avoiding the dangerous wild magic events that could prove to be catastrophic.
Plasma Storm: The players encounter a massive plasma storm that engulfs their ship, sending arcs of electricity crackling across its hull. The storm is so intense that it threatens to kill anyone wearing, holding or standing too close to metal objects. The players must navigate through the storm while avoiding dangerous lightning strikes and trying to keep their ship intact.
Rogue Black Hole: The players come across a small black hole that pulls in everything around it like their ship, asteroids and even light itself. The black hole’s gravity is so strong that it threatens to tear their ship apart if they get too close. All the while thousands of asteroids and other pieces of space debris swirl rapidly around the accretion disk. The players must use their wits and their ship’s engines to navigate around the black hole, its deadly event horizon and escaping its grasp before it’s too late.
Circling the black hold in an orbit maintained by magic, is where the part will find Argnot’s asteroid laboratory.
Act 2: The Guardians of the Artifact
After defeating the pirates and navigating the various obsticals, the players find their way to the Argnot’s asteroid laboratory. where they encounter the first of the guardians of the artifact. There are three powerful constructs that have been tasked with protecting the artifact since Argnot disappeared without a trace. The constructs are extremely powerful and are not easily defeated. The players will need to use all their skills and abilities to defeat them. The guardians are there to block all “unworthy” from entering. They will challenge the party to prove their worth in order to enter the wizards keep.
Depending on the level of the party you can choose from one to three guardians., I recommend one of the following monster stat-blocks… We are just re-skinning some standard D&D monsters here.
Act 3: The Race for the Artifact
As the players get closer to the artifact, they discover that it has also attracted the attention of various factions and enemies who are seeking to claim it for themselves. The players must race against time and other factions to retrieve the artifact before it falls into the wrong hands. They will need to use their wits and cunning to outsmart their opponents and come out on top.
For this section of the adventure you should create a party that is identical to the play character party. Feel free to switch up the character’s races/species to make it less obvious that they are racing themselves.
The other factions may offer to team up to get through the dungeon and even split the reward that they have been promised by their patrons, if the part will help them recover and return the artifact.
When we played this at our table, I ran this as a skill challenge as the PC’s went head-to-head with the NPCs. Given that the NPC’s had the same bonuses, it really came down to unmodified dice rolls between the DM and the players.
To make this happen and keep up the story pace and excitement, you should have a clear understanding of the map and the contents of each room… which I didn’t… good thing I can improvise. I just thought back to all the James Bond movie scenes where he went to visit Q and imagined what that would look like if Q and his staff just left for lunch and never came back. I’m sure you can do better 🙂
Act 4: Hard Choices & Consequences of the Artifact
Upon retrieving the artifact, the players discover that it holds a piece of the elemental plane of fire. It is sentient and, in my game, had the voice of Yosemite Sam. The artifact has the power to restart the Orlaxian star, the black hole around which the laboratory currently orbits. It will also reform the Orlaxian home world using the debris in the asteroid belt.
If anyone removes the egg from the room where it is found, it will start a skill challenge to get out of the asteroid before it falls into the black hole. If the NPC’s got to the artifact first, see the guide on chases below.
The Orlaxians will honor their offered reward, but the players must decide whether to keep the artifact for their own gain, or to give it to the Orlaxians.
If they keep the artifact, they will have immense power but will also be hunted by various factions and enemies. The Xaryxian Empire would pay double or more to get their hands on the egg to restore their home system after the events of the Light of Xaryxis campaign.
If they give it to the Orlaxians, they will save a civilization and be hailed as heroes, but the Xaryxians will double their efforts to find and kill the party.
Xaryxians want the egg to restore their home system and will pay the party’s weight in gold as well as a royal title, castle, and land on any world within their empire. If you are playing this as a prequile to the Light of Xaryxis, then the Xaryxians want the egg to keep it out of the hands of their enemies and as a possible new weapon in their arsenal of terror.
Naxorians want the egg for its destructive power as a weapon. They will use it to blackmail entire star systems into paying tribute and bowing to them.
Orlaxians want the egg to restore their home world and star.
Smugglers/Pirates want the egg so they can sell it to the highest bidder. Once they have it they will start a bidding war between all of the other factions.
How to Run a Chase Sceen
In D&D, chases involve a quarry and at least one pursuer. Sometimes the pursuer can become the quarry, like when guards arrive and mistake the pursuer for the thief. The chase begins with the quarry starting some distance ahead of the pursuer. After determining the distance, all parties roll for initiative, but players are only allowed one action and one move, without bonus actions or reactions. This streamlines the chase and prevents classes with high movement from catching up too quickly.
During a chase, participants can use the Dash action up to three times plus their Constitution modifier. However, if they use it more than three times, they must pass a DC 10 Constitution check or gain a level of exhaustion. When their exhaustion level reaches 5 and their speed drops to 0, they fall out of the chase.
At the end of each turn, all participants roll a d20 to see if complications occur. There are two tables to consult in the DMG, but I recommend you tie this back to the escape skill challenge table. It’s important to note that complications affect the NEXT creature in the initiative order, not the one who just rolled.
Chases can end in several ways, including exhaustion of either the party, the pursuer catching up to the quarry and initiating normal combat rules, the quarry succeeding on a Dexterity (Stealth) check to hide, or you (the DM) can just make the call as to how it ends.
Armor Class: 15 (wood)
Hit Points: 300
Damage Threshold: 20
Speed: fly 35 ft. (4 mph)
Cargo: 150 tons
Keel/Beam: 140 ft./30 ft.
Cost: 50,000 gp
Weapons: Ballistae (2), Crew 3, AC 15, HP 50, Cost 50 gp (ballista), 5 gp (bolt). Bolt – Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 120/480 ft., one target. Hit: 16 (3d10) piercing damage.
Giant Cannon (1), Crew 4, AC 19, HP 250, Cost: (cannon), 1,000 gp (giant cannonball). Cannon Ball – Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 600/2,400 ft., one target. Hit: 88 (16d10) bludgeoning damage.
(Flying Fish Class)
Armor Class: 15 (wood)
Hit Points: 250
Damage Threshold: 15
Speed: fly 40 ft. (4 1/2 mph)
Cargo: 13 tons
Keel/Beam: 120 ft./30 ft.
Cost: 20,000 gp
Weapons: Ballista (1), Crew 3, AC 15, HP 50, Cost 50 gp (ballista), 5 gp (bolt). Bolt – Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 120/480 ft., one target. Hit: 16 (3d10) piercing damage.
Mangonel (1), Crew 4, AC 15, HP 100, Cost: (cannon), 100 gp (mangonel), 0 gp (stone). Mangonel Stone – Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 200/800 ft. (can’t hit targets within 60 feet of it), one target. Hit: 27 (5d10) bludgeoning damage.
Here are some example descriptions for various skill check successes and failures. A character can only use each skill once for the skill challenge.
Success (0 fails): The faits have smiled on your today. You sail past unscathed.
Success (2 fails): Despite the damage you took, your ship sails past the threat. You and the crew have some work to do to repair the ship, but it will keep flying while you do.
Fail (3 fails): You suffered heavy damage and are floating through space with no control over the ship. It will take (1d4) days to finish repairs and get under way.
Fail (0 success): Your ship is dead in space. you have major hull damage and lack the supplies to fix it here. Over the next (2d4) days you manage to get the ship back in running condition (50% HP).
Anomaly Skill Check Examples
Before the Roll: The ship veers off course pulled toward the anomaly.
Success: Giving in to the pull you turn the ship toward the anomaly and gain speed. Then you tack hard and push forward putting more distance between you and the anomaly.
Fail: Giving in to the pull you turn the ship toward the anomaly and gain speed. Then you tack hard trying to use your speed only to find that the ship slides sideways. The anomaly is closer than ever. The ship creeks under the stress.
Before the Roll: Space itself ripples and the ship lurches and rolls.
Success: You remember a passage from a sea fairing tale about a ship weathering a storm. You rush to lash yourself to the ship with your belt just seconds before the ship heaves and anything not tied down goes flying over the deck railing.
Fail: Mesmerized by the site of spacing warping and stretching, you fail to see the danger in time. You and everything not lashed down are thrown in the air. You fall back, catching the deck rail as cargo, rope and a barrel fly past into open space.
Before the Roll: Ball lightening rolls down the deck. Arcs of powerful lightening strike out in random directions.
Success: Racing ahead of the ball, you manage to dive behind one of the ship’s masts just as an arc lightening hits it instead of you.
Fail: Racing ahead of the ball, you dive behind one of the ship’s masts just as an arc of lightening hit it and you take (1d8) damage.
Before the Roll: For the briefest moment you see a pattern emerge. You point and yell to the pilot.
Success: The pilot corrects course and you sail through the narrow opening just in time.
Fail: The pilot corrects course. Too late do you both realize the opening is closing too fast. The ship lurches and you hear the sound of wood snapping somewhere below deck.
Before the Roll: Sometimes you can’t help but think the universe seems to have a personal grudge against you.
Success: Today is one of those days. You nervously watch as the space around your ship seems to warp and roll. You roll with it, for a moment becoming one with the maelstrom around you.
Fail: Today is one of those days. You watch as the space around you warps and rolls. The ship creaks and the hull cracks.
Before the Roll: Out of the corner of your eye, you see that one of the mast lines has come loose.
Success: Your eyes trace the line back to it’s source. High above you, one of the ships gaffs is swinging widely. You pull the line tight and secure it before it can do any ham.
Fail: Too late your eyes trace the line back to it’s source. One of the ship’s gaffs comes swinging down smashing into the helm. The pilot struggles back onto the helm as the ship lurches back and forth.
Passing: The characters move quietly and cautiously, avoiding detection from any patrolling guards or dangerous creatures. They use the shadows and cover to move swiftly and without incident.
Failing: The characters make too much noise and attract the attention of the guards and creatures. They may have to fight or flee, wasting valuable time and possibly getting injured or captured.
Before the Roll: A swarm of meteors the size of golfballs flying across the deck, drawn to the anomaly.
Success: Pure instinct drives you as you dive for the deck. Your only though is on survival as the iron and stone meteors smash into the side of the ship and whiz over your head.
Fail: As the first few go wizzing past, you are distracted. You loose precious seconds and turn around just in time to be hit in the chest by one, sending you to your knees gasping for breath. (1d8) bludgeoning damange.
Escaping the Asteroid Skill Challenge
Pass: You quickly spot a narrow crevice in the ground that leads to a shortcut. You expertly navigate the tight space, vaulting over obstacles and somersaulting to safety on the other side.
Fail: You lose your footing as the ground starts to shake, and stumble into a deep fissure. You manage to catch yourself, but not before taking some damage.
Pass: You notice a hanging rope that you can use to swing across a chasm. You grab the rope and expertly swing across, landing safely on the other side.
Fail: You try to jump across a gap, but you don’t quite make it. You start to fall, but manage to grab onto a ledge and pull yourself up, taking some damage (1d8).
Pass: You notice a set of controls hidden behind a panel on the wall. You quickly figure out how to use them, and manage to open a secret door that leads to a shortcut out of the lair.
Fail: You waste precious time searching for a faster way out, and end up going in circles.
Pass: You remember a shortcut through a narrow passageway that gets you much closer to your ship. You manage to navigate the difficult terrain without slowing down.
Fail: You get lost in the winding tunnels of the lair and end up going in circles, losing valuable time.
Pass: You spot a hidden vent in the ceiling that leads to the surface of the asteroid. You quickly climb up and crawl through the vent to safety.
Fail: You fail to notice a hidden pit trap, and fall in, taking some damage.
Passing: The characters quickly discern the wizard’s plan and begin to anticipate traps and obstacles in their path allowing you to move quickly through the wizard’s lair as it is being ripped apart by the gravity of the black hole.
Failing: The characters are caught off-guard by one of the wizard’s traps. The floor drops out from under you. You are slow to react, but the cracked floors and walls keep the trap from dropping you into an inescapable oubliette. Instead, you loose precious time as the asteroid falls closer t the back hole.
Passing: The characters are familiar with the environment of the asteroid and the dangers it presents. They use their knowledge of the asteroid’s hazards and find the safest path forward.
Failing: The characters are unfamiliar with the asteroid’s unique environment and struggle to navigate through it. They may stumble into hazards or get lost, slowing them down and increasing the danger of the situation.