Expedition to the Barrier Peaks Dark Sun Adaptation

Awhile back, the topic of creating a dark sun version of the 1st edition adventure Expedition to the Barrier Peaks came up. I was fascinated by the idea. So, I started thinking it through and came up with a rudimentary and augmentable scenario for Dark Sun.

It would be set shortly after the events of the Prism Pentad and Dregoth Ascending. As such, Rajaat is bound once more in the Hollow, Andropinis is stuck in the Black, Tithian is part of the Cerulean Storm, and Abeluch-Re, Borys, and Techulitay and all dead (excuse any misspellings of their names). Dregoth has been recently defeated (supposedly), but the city of Raam has been gutted of it’s population. More importantly, however, during the events of the Prism Pentad, the sun momentarily flashed blue and then the Messenger Star failed to appear.

According to some sources, the Messenger Star was not in fact a comet, but rather a Rhistuli life-shaped satellite or space station of some sort. If this is the case, then I propose the following theory as to why it failed to return. The Champions of Rajaat draw their power from the sun. Normally, it is assumed the when Rajaat imbued them with this power, it was through actually defiling the sun. However, that would not have fit with his stated desire to return Athas to the Blue Age. Instead, I maintain that the power is being constantly borrowed. thus, if a Champion dies, the portion of the sun’s energy he is using would return to the sun, causing it to release a sudden burst of energy. If enough died, the sun would begin to revert to it’s yellow state. If enough died at the same time, it might temporarily turn blue, and perhaps release a large EMP.

If it is true that the Messenger is some sort of life-shaped entity rather than a stellar object, it would have to have a navigation system and other such things. I imagine their navigation could be something like a bird’s instinctive sense of direction during migratory period, sensitive to electromagnetic radiation. the large EMP could short out it’s brain and force anyone on board to land it manually on Athas for repairs. That landing results in a crash that shorts even more of the ship’s systems, causing it to produce life-shaped horrors to defend itself. A nearby city state could begin encountering these monsters, and send in the party to investigate and eliminate it’s source.

Alternatively, if the players lost the battle with Dregoth in Dregoth Ascending, Athas is now connected to the rest of the D&D multiverse. As such, the crash is not of Rhistuli origin, but is rather a spelljamming ship from another prime material.

Please give me feedback on this idea. I will be adding additional conversion details as I work through the original source. If you have any alternatives to the two scenarios I mentioned, or a way to work this into another era of play, please post them.

1 Like

OK, first the conditions that the ship is under.
The Messenger (actually named the Ark, but the players will figure that out later) has crashed landed in the mountains near Tyr. It’s bridge and central intelligence systems are offline, so it is currently in a purely reactionary state. The entire ship is life-shaped, meaning it is technically a living organism, and even (under better conditions) a semi-conscious one. Several problems plague it, however.
When it crashed, most of it’s control crew was killed. Those who were not killed have succumbed to a crippling bacterial infection. These bacteria had been taken for study from Guthay, and were in the process of being studied when the ship’s systems crashed. The organism was released into the air. When the ship’s emergency power came on and life support was restarted, the bacteria had already infected the life support system, tainting all air, water, and vital ship fluid (blood/coolant). Now the ship produces the bacteria as it cleans the air. Anyone in the ship or within half a mile of it is affected as if exposed to a mutagenic area of Rajaat’s swamp, and all fluids inside the ship (such as the water from the faucets) are treated as fluids in such a mutagenic area. However, the disease is not instantaneous, having a 6 hour incubation period, during which it can be cured. Because the disease is highly infectious, any wounds caused by slashing or piercing weapons cause infection as well, as specified in the Pristine Tower mutations in Dregoth Ascending III. In all cases, the fortitude save is DC 15, and failure by 10 or more results in the character gaining a more severe form of the disease. This form lowers their constitution by 1 and adds 1 additional mutation of a random kind for every minute after the incubation period has elapsed. If the character reaches a constitution of 0, he immediately transforms into a Guthay Fungus, which will be described later, but looks like the host when it died (ie heavily mutated), but vegetative and clinging to the ground like a plant.
The ship also has a vague sense that it is under some sort of attack. It has begun producing a number of life shaped automatons, which go about randomly attacking anything that moves. These automatons will likewise be described later.
Finally, a number of specimens taken from athas, ral, guthay, and various neighboring planetoids have been released. Most have died due to the Guthay Fungus. This means that in addition to Rhistuli corpses scattered about, there are also a number of other creatures, including many from the lifeshaping handbook, some kreen and trin, some dromites, and others. However, all species native to Guthay have survived, having already developed a resistance to the Guthay Fungus. This includes Silk Wyrms, among others.

The ship possesses a number of hazardous environmental suits, similar in design to the Green Rhul. They are known as Symbiomechs, and are equipped with their own replenishable air supply. This means that wearers are immune to the airborn affects of the Guthas Fungus. Symbiomechs are significantly less powerful than the Green Rhul, and less intelligent, but do not run the risk of going AWOL. They are suitable for only Rhistuli, Rhul-Thuans, Halflings, and very skinny Dwarves.

The medical and research bays are equipped with life-shaping equipment beyond that currently available on Athas. A skilled lifeshaper would give their arm for some of the devices found here, and a skilled Gahv-erahn could use the equipment to cure any disease known, including the one that plagues the ship. However, there are a great many Guthay Fungi near the medical and research bays, making getting there perilous at best.

The central nervous system (bridge) of the ship can be accessed. If accessed, a Life-Tender of sufficient skill could bring the systems back to order. Druids, Psions, and Wilders might find their powers particularly useful in this regard as well.

The ship reacts to any attacks on itself by releasing chemical signals throughout the ship, telling all the lifeshaped automatons to converge in the general area of the attack. This includes physical attacks, attempts to sabotage any primary systems, and defiling (see below). Also note that any spells or powers with an AOE (such as fireball) or which pass through targets do cause some damage, any may attract the ship’s ire. This is reflected by the random encounters table for that room being shifted one category higher until the ship heals itself. Conventional damage on any portion of the room heals at 5 points per round. The ship is considered to have infinite hit points for purposes of destroying it by conventional means, and has DR 10/(slashing, piercing, fire, negative energy, and electrical) on the inside. On the outside, it has DR 20, overcome by the same things.

Finally, in regards to defiling, the ship has several interesting properties. Because the ship is effectively one giant living organism, the ship registers as abundant ground for spellcasting purposes. Furthermore, defiling circles are negated slowly over time, as the ship sends blood to the decayed region and begins to repair itself. Any defiling lowers the total life level of the ship by one degree, at which it remains until the defiling circle is restored, at (3)/(((caster level)+(spell level))/2) degrees per round, at which point the whole ship is restored to full energy. Because the process involves saturating the region with contaminated “blood”, anyone within the circle from it’s barren to it’s fertile stages must take a DC 20 save each round or contract the fungus. If for any reason the entire ship is reduced to Void, the ship becomes overwhelmed by the strain and explodes, releasing a huge cloud of the Guthay Fungi to threaten the tablelands.

1 Like

This is great. Very much along the lines of what i was thinking of, but better thought out.

I was thinking that If the ship was in space since the blue age, it would need to at least partially be a stasis ship.

Also, the life-shaping nutrient juice (it’s name escapes me right now) should replace the power packs in equipment.

I was thinking about doing room by room description changes, if you’re interested. …

Love what you’ve done so far!

1 Like

Yes, please do the room description changes. I have my hands full working on designing life-shaped robots, symbiomechs, Guthay Fungi, and random encounters.

As for your stasis idea, their could be a section of the ship with biochemical preservation vats. Basically, it’s filled with a fluid that consistently corrects the genetic coding of it’s subject, provides necessary nutrients to the body, and keeps all vital systems functioning at minimal required functionality. The result is the equivalent of a temporal stasis spell. When the ship crashed, 1/6 of the crew was active, and were the first to succumb to the infection. 1/3 were awoken after the crash, and either died or found a symbiomech to hide in. 1/6 were improperly awoken and died shortly thereafter. 1/3 are still in stasis. These rhistuli are some of the greatest minds ever to grace athas, and the rhual-thuans would be immensely grateful for their return. The Zik-Chil would also desire their services, as they have lost much of their life-shaping expertise. They can only be revived by interfacing with the central nervous system.

A note, the ship itself is not actually infected by the disease. However, it is infested, and in it’s confused state it is unable to recognize the contagion for what it is. All life-shaped entities are actually immune to it’s effects.

Could you design the weapons to give them a more biological feel?

Sure. There’s lightning weapons in the lifeshaping handbook, and if that’s still too weird, they could spray a steam of acid.

I’m just not sure how we’d have a 5000+ yet old society of rhistuli Still on the ship w/o stasis. …

I’m thinking that the weapons she be upgraded from how they appear in the book. After all, the Nature Masters in the ship had several thousands of years to perfect them.

All lighting within the ship is not only the original blue color of the sun, but also has most of the same properties. This is because the ship absorbs radiation from the outside and selectively admits it into the ship. Lights can be activated or deactivated by using the light switches at the doors. These can vary the light admited to the room according to the will of the user. Normally, the ship does not allow the light in a particular room to reach dangerous levels. However, the ship has been malfunctioning, and in some rooms the light is permanently stuck off, or worse at dangerously high levels. The second case (referred to as “blue zones”) deals 1d4 fire damage per round to those in the room or standing at the doorway, and those without proper eye protection must take a DC 15 save vs blindness upon first exposure, DC 10 the next round, and DC 5 each round thereafter spent in the zone.

Sun Clerics and beings with the sun descriptor are effected interestingly while the lights are on. Sun Clerics are treated as being one level higher for purpose of domain spells and powers. Creatures with the sun descriptor gain a temporary hit die which also counts when determine the effect caster level of their powers (if any). Both cases rise to 2 in a Blue Zone. However, they are subjected to a blue colored Faerie Fire spell of their cleric level or equivalent caster level while in lighted regions or blue zones. All clerics and templars are treated as one level higher for the purpose of turning and rebuking undead, and this is again doubled in a blue zone.

Beings which utilize photosynthesis regenerate at one HP per round in lighted portions of the ship, and 2 per round in blue zones. However, since most being that utilize photosynthesis are plants, which are often vulnerable to fire, they tend to avoid Blue zones. Interestingly, blue zones are free of Guthay Fungi, and the heat produced purifies the air within. As such, DC saves against the disease in such regions are reduced to 10

Symbiomech
Usually Medium Construct (Life-Shaped Construct)
Languages: Understands host’s commands
AC 22
(+2 Dex, +9 natural)
hp 40 (5 HD); DR 5/slashing
Immune poison, disease, paralysis, sleep effects, stunning
Fort +5, Ref +2, Will -1
+4 Listen, +2 Spot
Weakness vulnerability to defiling
Speed (with host only) 20 ft. land, 20 ft. water, 5 ft. space (but not air)
Melee (with host only) slam (1d8+9)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +8; Grp +13
Abilities Str 20, Dex 15, Con 20, Int 8, Wis 8, Cha 8
SQ empathic link, life-shaped construct traits, photosynthesis, Life Support, shared will, graft compatible, senses, war-machine

  • The Symbiomech grants a +10 racial bonus on Hide checks due to active camouflage

Empathic Link (Ex) The mech has an empathic link with its host. The mech can perceive what the host perceives using its sight, hearing, taste, smell and vice-versa.
Photosynthesis (Ex) As a full-round action, the mech can sink roots into the soil to extract water and nutrients. An hour of being immobile this way is enough to feed itself and its host a day. Durring this time, it may also restore the hit points of the mech by 1d6 per minute. This ability can be used only in an area with sunlight. The restoration is modified as follows: for each terrain level lower than abundant -1 (lowest 0), for ark lighted regions +2, for blue zones +4, for the paraelemental plane of sun +3. The Mech can root itself anywhere on the ark.
Life Support: The Symbiomech is equipped with an organ which can create and store breathable air. By entering photosynthesis mode, the mech can produce the equivalent of 3 hours worth of breathable air per hour. If the host is in the mech, one of these is used to provide air to it for that hour, reducing productivity to 2 per hour. It can only store up to 16 hours worth of air this way. Alternatively, if in an area with breathable air that it contaminated somehow (Guthay Fungus, Grey Death), the suit can passively filter the air. This ability allows the host to share the Mech’s immunities while inside, and also allows the character to breath normally while in the suit in conditions it would normally be unable to (deep space, under water, ect)
Shared Will (Ex): Both the mech and its host use either the mech’s Will save or the host’s, whichever is better.
Graft Compatible: A symbiomech is compatible with any life-shaped grafts appropriate to it’s size.
War-machine (Ex) The Symbiomech always gains the maximum hit points possible per Hit Die.
Senses: low-light and darkvision (30 ft.) improved vision, improved hearing and smell (Scent ability) and basic touch senses.

In order to be used, a character must get inside first. This is normally done by climbing its back. There is a seam running down its back, from its neck to the base of its spine. It can be open only if the Mech wishes it so, which it normally does unless occupied. Any Rhistuli, Rhul-Thuan, Halfling, Gnome, Pyreen, Goblin, Kobold, Shadow Giant, or Dwarf can operate it. Once inside, thousands of tiny tendrils penetrate the characters’ skin and join to his nervous system. The Symbiomech can communicate with its host directly through his nervous system. It’s a sort of biological, non-magic, non-psionic form of telepathy. A host does not need to breathe, eat or drink while inside the Symbiomech (see photosynthesis, above). The host provides the neural hookups that operate its muscles. Without a host, it is incapable of moving.

This is my first write up for a creature of any sort. Please look over it and provide critique. Specifically, if you see any glaring errors or things I missed, please tell me.

My next project is the Biodroid and Bioreplica stat write-ups.

Biodroids and Bioreplicas are to different variations of the same type of creature. They are, interestingly, fully sentient and capable of taking class levels, and yet a life-shaper can make them with some effort. A Bioreplica is a more advanced form of a Biodroid.

Biodroid:

  • +2 Constitution, –2 Charisma, -2 Str
  • Small: As a Small creature, a Biodroids gains a +1 size bonus to Armor Class, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, and a +4 size bonus on Hide checks, but she uses smaller weapons than humans use, and her lifting and carrying limits are three-quarters of those of a Medium character.
  • Base land speed is 20 feet.
    • Tough Skin: +2 armor bonus. This plating is natural armor.
    • Light Fortification (Ex): When a critical hit or sneak attack is scored on a Biodroid, there is a 25% chance that the critical hit or sneak attack is negated and damage is instead rolled normally.
    • A Biodroid has a natural weapon in the form of a slam attack that deals 1d4 points of damage.
    • Graft Compatible: Biodroids are compatible with all forms of lifeshaping grafts.
    • Resilient: Biodroids are immune to all disease, poison, nausea, fatige, and exhaustion effects, and do not require air or food or sleep. It must still photosynthesize.
    • Lifelike Appearance. Distinguishing a life-shaped creature from an animal or magical beast requires a DC 20 Spot check.
    • Vulnerability to defiling. A life-shaped construct in a defiling radius suffers 1 damage per spell level due to its plant nature.
    • Rhulisti Master: biodroids are built to take orders from Rhulisti and Bioreplicas. A Biodroid must make a DC 20 will save to resist the commands of a Rhulisti. This save changes to DC 15 vs Rhul-Thuans and Bioreplicas, DC 10 vs halflings, shadow giants, and pyreens and DC 5 vs and Zik-Chil. The given creature must speak a language the bioreplica knows to benefit from this affect.
    • Can be affected by spells and powers that target living creatures as well by those that target constructs.
    • Photosynthesis (Ex) As a full-round action, the Biodroid can sink roots into the soil to extract water and nutrients. 8 hours of being immobile this way is enough to feed itself each day. During this time, it may also restore it’s hir points by 1d4 per minute. This ability can be used only in an area with sunlight. The restoration is modified as follows: for each terrain level lower than abundant -1 (lowest 0), for ark lighted regions +2, for blue zones +4, for the paraelemental plane of sun +3. The Biodroid can root itself anywhere on the ark.
    • Automatic Languages: Rhulisti. Bonus Languages: None.
    • Favored Class: Fighter. A multiclass Biodroid’s fighter class does not count when determining
    whether he takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing.

Bioreplica:

  • +1 Constitution, -1 Cha, -2 Str, +1 Wis
  • Small: As a Small creature, a Bioreplicas gains a +1 size bonus to Armor Class, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, and a +4 size bonus on Hide checks, but she uses smaller weapons than humans use, and her lifting and carrying limits are three-quarters of those of a Medium character.
  • Base land speed is 20 feet. 20 ft. water, 5 ft. space (but not air)
    • Tough Skin: +2 armor bonus. This plating is natural armor.
    • Light Fortification (Ex): When a critical hit or sneak attack is scored on a Bioreplica, there is a 25% chance that the critical hit or sneak attack is negated and damage is instead rolled normally.
    • A Bioreplica has a natural weapon in the form of a slam attack that deals 1d4 points of damage.
    • Graft Compatible: Bioreplica are compatible with all forms of lifeshaping grafts.
    • Resilient: Bioreplica are immune to all disease, poison, nausea, fatige, and exhaustion effects, and do not require air or food or sleep. It must still photosynthesize.
    • Immune to fear effects
    • Lifelike Appearance. Distinguishing a life-shaped creature from an animal or magical beast requires a DC 25 Spot check.
    • Vulnerability to defiling. A life-shaped construct in a defiling radius suffers 1 damage per spell level due to its plant nature.
    • Rhulisti Master: bioreplicas are built to take orders from Rhulisti. A Biodroid must make a DC 15 will save to resist the commands of a Rhulisti. This save changes to DC 10 vs Rhul-Thuans and Bioreplicas, and DC 5 vs halflings, shadow giants, and pyreens. The given creature must speak a language the bioreplica knows to benefit from this affect.
    • Can be affected by spells and powers that target living creatures as well by those that target constructs.
    • Photosynthesis (Ex) As a full-round action, the Biodroid can sink roots into the soil to extract water and nutrients. 8 hours of being immobile this way is enough to feed itself each day. During this time, it may also restore it’s hir points by 1d4 per minute. This ability can be used only in an area with sunlight. The restoration is modified as follows: for each terrain level lower than abundant -1 (lowest 0), for ark lighted regions +2, for blue zones +4, for the paraelemental plane of sun +3. The Biodroid can root itself anywhere on the ark.
    • Senses: low-light and darkvision (30 ft.) improved vision, improved hearing and smell (Scent ability) and basic touch senses.
    • Automatic Languages: Rhulisti. Bonus Languages: Tohr-Kreen, Rhul-Thaun, Common, Gith, Halfling, Dromite, Diopsid, Lask, Polygot, Bvavnen, Silthilar, Psurlon
    • Favored Class: Fighter. A multiclass Biodroid’s fighter class does not count when determining
    whether he takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing.
    Level Adjustment: +1

Next Project: the Guthay Fungi

Apologies for the delay, in the case that anyone is still reading this. I’m approaching finals week, and so cannot afford spending as much time producing additional content as I did when I started this project. If anyone wishes to continue adaptations, or introduce a new spin on the adventure that I am not considering, please go ahead. I will attempt to begin again in two or three weeks.

How interesting. I know a few anime that would be good sources for bio-weaponry.

How closely would you want to replicate the module?

Go ahead and add some. I am finally finished with finals, so I will begin to add some creatures from Ral and Guthay as I can. Ideas:

Shipboard: Rhulisti, Biodroid, Bioreplica, Symbiomech

Athas: Kreen, Trin, Gith, Lask, Human, Athasian Elf, Athasian Dwarf, Athasian Goblin (Needs Stats), Athasian Pixie (Needs Stats), Athasian Gnome (Needs Stats), Kenku, Aarkrocka

Ral: Dromites, Psurlons, Elder Psurlons, Giant Psurlons, Tsochari, Abeil

Guthay: Shambling Mound, Udoroot, Black Pudding, Diopsid, Silk Wyrm, Silthilar, Myconid, Guthay Fungus

Outer Realms: Mozgriken (Rhulisti based illithid), Neothelid, Ustigilator, Intellect Devourer, Embrac, Kigrid, Saltor, Roper, Urophion, Illithid Larva, Cesserid, Umber Hulk, Truly Horrid Umber Hulk, Neogi, Neogi Spawn, Great Old Master, Flumph, Grell Hatching, Grell, Grell Philosopher, Grell Patriarch

I am open to suggestions

Vibro-blade

An enlarged modified tooth (small) or claw (large) made of a specialized mix of organic crystalline matrix and reinforced enamel grown from a major structural support bone in the body, typically one or more of the primary limbs, the Vibro-blade is joined to the bone with a loose socket well padded with specialized cartilage tweaked for a high rate of regeneration. Thousands of customized myomer-based muscle stands are attached via specially modified ligaments to enable the tooth or claw to vibrate at variable high speeds. Special organs excrete highly specialized carbon monofilaments along the cutting edges, bonded to the crystalline matrix underneath.

The biological costs include increased appetite, unusual food cravings for trace elements and minerals, early onset of bone deterioration, a sensitivity to certain resonant frequencies, and occasionally brain bruising after extended usage due to vibrations transmitted along the skeleton. Further modifications to the brain cavity, teeth, skeletal and muscular structures, digestive track, and hormonal balance to permit the organism to safely ingest the required supplements, and to withstand the vibrational stress, are also required.

Behavioral modifications include an aversion to the blood of the opposite gender to promote successful reproduction, as well as compulsive stropping of the blade-teeth and blade-claws, as these will grow constantly until death.

Could you right up some weapons statistics for those? I am working on species right now.

No need really. Just borrow the stats from the tech equivalent in d20 future and d20 future tech. As 3.x is d20, so is Athas. We can check the d20 modern srd and see if they have any stats.

1 Like

Now that it has been brought up, some of the alien races might be useful sources of life shaped entities. Not to mention the powered armor fit the ones already mentioned above.

I do already have symbiomechs. They work as powered armor.

Yes, I saw that above. I was thinking it might be useful to compare, is all.

1 Like

I see. I’ll take a look at my d20 manuals when I get the chance. The symbiomech is based off the Green Rhul artifact in the life-shaping handbook if you want to take a look at it.

Amplified Bio-luminescence emitters:

This modification grows a specialized bio-crystal enshrouded by bio-luminescent organs tweaked to emit specific wavelengths of light; the whole contained in an armored carapace or skeletal cage.

Lesser versions are large enough to require shoulder or back mounted positioning. Greater versions are smaller and can be axially mounted along the bilateral symmetry, or even chest mounted with the most advanced versions. Special psi-active organs mixed in with the emitters provide various supports such as heat management, crystal regeneration, enhanced light production, force effect production, and light beam management functions.

Bio-energy costs are such that a single organism can seldom support more than two such modifications. Some of the elements required to grow the crystal are poisonous to host creatures, which design challenge has been handled with one of two approaches: secondary feeding mechanisms incorporated into the emitter itself (usually only found in the larger and lesser models), or a secondary discreet digestive system for handling the necessary foreign materials.

Behavioral costs include having to train the organism to ingest the craved raw materials in the proper manner to prevent accidental poisoning, until it is mature enough to distinguish the various hunger signals.