Now in possession of the secret code to unlock the gates of Vault 72 (see Crawl: In Hot Water), the party set off across the Kathara highlands to the Vault to seek what mysteries lay within. Along the way, the party became more acquainted with their newfound allies. Karak Farwander revealed his past as a slave and gladiator serving under an evil Mind Flayer deep in the underdark. He was exiled from his clan years before that moment, but recently escaped the thrall of his dark master and fled to the surface in hopes of evading the Mind Flayer’s grasp. He has come to the surface not only for that reason, but to investigate the magical events that have caused primal disruption in the Earth. RELIC turned out to be an Ancient construct that gained sentience recently during Ruth’Cabed. His original function as a memory database and ancient librarian for an Ancient stronghold somewhere in the highlands had run down, and so he escaped his place of origin and began to explore the Highlands to discover what the world had to offer. One day, he hopes to learn his true origin and reassemble his broken memories.
While the cavern to Vault 72 was now cool as the water flowed through it, as if the Alu’Nore had left this place entirely, the Vault door stood strong, embedded into the stone of the cavern wall. Ancient technology on the wall allowed the great iron door to open by voice access, the code Singularity allowing access to the depths below. In the first room of the Vault, the party discovered that it had been abandoned for what seemed like centuries. While the rooms were stable, reinforced by some incredible metal bearing the weight of the earth on it, the technology was quite a bit more run down. Still, RELIC was able to force an access panel similar to the ones seen in Kel’Este to reveal information on the Vault, or rather, the purpose of the Vault itself.
_This is the future. The upper containment door has been breached from the outside using the security password, meaning that the denizens of the future world have, after rebuilding civilization after a disaster of nearly apocalyptic proportions, come to retrieve you, the people of one of the many Vaults located across the surface of the planet. As one of the members of VAULT 72, you will remember walking into the Vault, knowing the land you come from as ##! NOT FOUND ##, but by now the world has probably changed quite a bit. As people first leave the vaults, disaster is likely to occur. People will form barbaric tribes and begin to fight and eventually consume each other as their bodies and minds are exposed to toxic radiation which is still likely to persist in the ground and atmosphere. We ask kindly that you do not do this, as, for the sake of your species, you must form orderly civilizations as you wander into the wastes. Others may not, so be prepared. Do not come into contact with mutants roaming the surface. Mutants are extremely dangerous and are likely to consume you for nutrition. If you must contact mutants, do so with a long stick, iron rod, or other long distance reaching device which you may or may not find on the surface. Arm yourself. A pointy stick can mean the difference between life and death. The Security Wing of Vault 72 provides many advanced technologies of which you can use to easily defend yourself against roving bands of bloodthirsty mutants. ## BREACH IN SECURITY WING. DO NOT ENTER SECURITY WING ##
The Vault has been opened via external means, meaning that it has been at least an entire millennium since you were frozen down here. You may have noticed that after over a thousand years of cryogenic freezing, you and others around you are suffering from what top scientists name Hibernation Sickness. You may notice that you are suffering from ataxia, muscle deterioration, blindness, hypothermia, dehydration, starvation, loss of bowel control, bone deterioration, loss of melanin in the skin, hair loss, or other distinct and possibly life threatening symptoms commonly associated from being frozen for a thousand years. Don’t worry. Just proceed to the life support wing located next to the cryogenic chambers and our expertly crafted robotic surgeons will care for you ##! BREACH IN LIFE SUPPORT. DO NOT ENTER LIFE SUPPORT WING ##!#
If you are traveling with the elderly, sick, or with small children, the Warden of Vault 72 has the following advice. “Don’t travel with the elderly, sick, or small children. These groups of people are highly susceptible to the ravages of the outside world. Just leave them in the cryogenic stasis pod you have been assigned to, and come back to retrieve them once civilization is rebuilt. Don’t worry, they won’t feel the time pass at all.”
Due to continental drift, and accelerated evolution thanks to ambient mutagenic radiation in the atmosphere, the world beyond will not be anything like the world you remember. All maps and books containing information on what exists in the outside world are now useless. After a thousand years of a lifeless world, what could only be described as horrific monsters may have evolved beyond the walls. Bacteria have also had plenty of time to adapt to the world outside, making all of our medicine likely useless against the hyper-complex diseases that have evolved without the presence of sentient life. Good luck.
All technology in this facility works using the laws of physics commonly known to our civilization. Just because the technology has deteriorated and no longer works does not mean the laws of physics have changed significantly. If the laws of physics actually no longer apply in the future, God help you.
the instructions go on for another 50 pages |
This was only the beginning of what the Vault could reveal. Down an endless shaft lay the main floor of the Vault. Three doors lay before the party, one with a crystal lacking a glow embedded into it’s surface, the others glowing red. Ancient text above the doors labeled the wings as Security Wing, Cryogenics Ward, and Generators. Being the only door that could be moved, the party proceeded down the Security Wing. There they found that the Ancient security measures were still online, and several Ancient constructs, more advanced and polished than RELIC, attempted to kill the party using advanced sonic weaponry mounted to their arms. They were no match for the magic and skill of the party, but RELIC took one of their sonic weapons to experiment with anyway. Even deeper, the party found a large room swarming with irradiated deep-rats, and massive juggernauts that appeared to be used for construction. Nearly being destroyed by the indestructible machines, the party managed to save themselves at the last second by using flaming oil flasks to torch the rats out of their holes, clearing the room. Finally they progressed to the Security Center, but it appeared that over time dangerous black mushrooms had grown in the center of the room, filling the room with deadly spores. While not immune to disease, RELIC was resistant, and so braved the fog to unlock the Cryogenics ward and retrieve a +3 Ancient Transfusion Sphere.
(An Ancient Transfusion Sphere is an Ancient device designed for impromptu use on the battlefield. It was used to upgrade weaponry and armor quickly, although it can be used to make quick, mid combat repairs. With the mental command of a humanoid creature, it will transform into a swarm of nanites, which will quickly deconstruct a weapon and reconstruct it into a more advanced form. The weapon will begin to draw energy from nearby sources, so bring extra batteries. In the case of a sphere used now, it will begin to draw magical energy from the environment.
By a player’s command, the sphere will transform any weapon or item into the magic item designated to it. In this case, the item will become a +3 Magic Weapon. Any previous enchantments will be replaced, and the sphere is consumed in the process.)
A revealed passage to a Storage Room was also unlocked, revealing the Ancient Stockpile. While over the years the more perishable goods such as clothing and weaponry had disintegrated into moldy dust, the party did fine many bars of tasteless gell, which, after a good amount of examination, were revealed to be equivalent to trail rations in nutritional value. The party took several of these, as well as another Ancient Transfusion Sphere (Helm of Battle)buried in rust.
In the Cryogenics Ward the party was initially faced with a long room filled with many kinds of mushrooms. When stepped on, there was a chance that some dangerous black mushrooms would erupt, filling the five foot area they were in with deadly spores. Carefully testing the mushrooms with their ten foot poles, they managed to navigate the minefield, revealing writing on the wall that read “Trapped. No word from the outside. No escape. We die here in this tomb where time forgot” as well as a rough iron box that contained two Syringes with potions of Regeneration inside of them.
The party thought it strange that something would be able to get into the Vault to write on the wall. As the progressed to the Infirmary, that was only reinforced. Many Ancient and run down medical drones were awakened at the entering of the room, revealing a vicious scene of blood and gore painted upon the walls and goods in the room. While the medical drones weren’t very difficult to dispatch, despite their reckless attempts to dissect, anesthetize, and cremate the party members, there were obvious signs of something living down here. Bloody footprints scattered across the floor, and bloody smears on the glass of access panels. Inscribed in the same blood was written “We are now the few and the many. The last one gives himself to aid me.” Within the cabinet this was written on the party found 1000gp of Healing Reagents, just enough to cast Raise Dead.
In the final room of the medical ward the party found the Stasis Chambers, or what was left of them. The small room was coated in the faint blue glow from each chamber, who’s protective glass surfaces had been shattered. The contents of the chambers had been extracted, and the fresh Ancient corpses that lay within had been torn to shreds, scattered across the floor of the room in a thick sheet of bone and rotting flesh. Finally it was revealed what was living down here. A small raider, skin painted in blackened blood and spines extruding from his spine, was crouched in the corner, chewing upon one of the frozen eyes of an Ancient. While the maddened mutant was a fairly difficult fight thanks to his cunning speed and disregard for sentient life, the party managed to slay him and learned on his last breath that he was but a scout for a greater threat. Natural curiosity caused RELIC to keep the eyeball, and found in the carpet of flesh an Ancient docent, when applied would grant a Warforged an integral Helm of Languages.
The eyeball turned out to be the perfect fit for the scanner to the door of the Generator Wing. Opening that, the party found a gruesome sight. The floor had been worn away from thousands of years of exposure to radioactive waste. While it would be safe in giant glass containers, the containers had been moved, and shattered, to make a working home for many raiders, mutated beyond recognizably and living in the sludge. The party was forced to jump from platform to platform, avoiding the vicious claws of the mutants and the balls of sludge they threw at the party. Arlyyn was the only one not capable of crossing, and was exposed to the deadly radiation many times over. While contracting a serious case of Radiation Sickness, the quick skills of Elliora kept Arlyyn from mutating.
As the main doorway was blocked by the sea of sludge, a maintenance pathway brought the party to a small room inhabited by strange creatures. Deep-rats had been mutated to gain incredible speed, burrowing through the stone and metal walls like swimming through water, and melting into piles of radioactive goo when defeated. They were accompanied by a group of four drow raiders, who’s exposure to the radioactive waste had rendered their minds and bodies to the point of no return. The destruction of the drow was of moderate difficulty, the challenge coming from attempting not to touch them and contract Radiation Sickness. In the irradiated belongings of one of the drow they found two items, a beautiful silver wiring and silk necklace of drow make, and a holy symbol to the Earth, of Dwarven make, labeled “Property of the Farwander Clan”.
In the next room, which was closer to a corridor with ends collapsed, the party found three run down Ancient constructs, mounted with special weapons that generated beams of intense cold, presumably for putting out fires. Their cores were harvested by the party as three 500g Aquamarine stones that had absorbed strange magical energies, keeping the constructs operational.
Finally, the party looked upon the Generator Room. A great ancient device embedded into the wall, glowing with a torrent of Astral Energies lay at the far side of the room. Waste containers appeared to be placed in uniform patterns all across the room, what appeared to be done manually by some great creature. An entrance tunnel to the room to the far right appeared to be blocked off.
From behind the central container appeared the raider leader. Although semi-drow in appearance, Rixiit, the Raider Sludge Lord, spoke as if his mind had been completely encompassed by the Void.
“_I’ve been watching you. Stumbling about like a clueless herd of animals. Shying away from the slightest hint of slime, or gas, or mutated creature. Have you ever stopped to think that the dreadful, horrific mutated monstrosities you have been slaughtering were once people like you? Adventurers in too far over their heads, or a lucky few who were chosen. You fear radiation so much you would rather die than become like us. You pity us, seek to rescue us on the edge of your swords.
I was once like you, you know. An explorer of depths, and liberator of treasures. But then I found the Void. Now I am lord of this timeless tomb, my many drow comrades, transformed into my faithful servants. And what’s more, I have power beyond any I could have conceived. Thanks to the Void…”
Suddenly the container in the center of the room shatters open, flinging shards of glass a bits of radioactive slime into the area around it. A creature is revealed within. Coated in slime like a stillborn child of the void, the creature quickly grows in size, sprouting long spines and limbs as it rapidly increases in strength. “…I am reborn!”_
As the party attacked Rixiit, his power grew. As they slowly worked away at his health, Rixiit continued to mutate. First growing to Large size and gaining the strength of a small Giant, then transforming one of his limbs into a bow of bone and sinew, then gaining the ability to summon golems out of the sludge in the containers aroung him, and finally developing a mind capable of inflicting psychic damage and dominating the party members. Each attack by Rixiit smashed open one container in another, slowly coating the room in radioactive slime. In the end, he fell, but not before nearly everyone contracted Radiation sickness, and the room became carpeted with radioactive sludge. The panel near the generator was activated by RELIC and read;
“Welcome, Vault citizen. At this time, the Medical wing has been breached. You are no doubt aware that that means that the many inhabitants of Vault 72 are trapped in our secure storage facility below the main floor. It appears that the system is incapable of properly awakening them as well, meaning that a full replacement of parts is necessary in order to proceed. Emergency repair supplies for a system such as this are located in Vault 1. You will need to retrieve that somehow. If the doors have been sealed, or you are the first awakened, then we apologize. Vault 72 will need to wait for outside help.”
Realizing that in this “tomb where time forgot” that Arlyyn needed to somehow destroy the generator and allow the area to be absorbed by the Earth to fulfill her prophecy, the party quickly harvested the “bow” from the body of Rixiit and fled the dungeon, using Karak’s Mug of Liquid Gold to discharge explosives in the key load bearing points of the Vault. Everyone just barely escaped the inferno before the fire from the alchohol and subsequently the Generator, destroyed Vault 72 and invited in the Earth to take over. And so one hope of the Ancients died that day, but the secrets of the Vault lived on in the memories of the party.