Nominated First Seeker Luwazi Elsebo speaks from behind her cluttered office desk. An elderly ysoki eagerly paces behind the First Seeker, adjusting his glasses every few steps. Luwazi continues, “As I am sure you are aware, I recently announced that the Starfinder Society intends to continue its investigation into the Scoured Stars and the incident that occurred there. I have chosen you to pursue our first lead. Thanks to Royo here, we recently learned that the library world of Athaeum could contain valuable information related to the Scoured Stars—information that could prove key to disabling the shield guarding the system. Royo is our resident expert on Athaeum. I will let him explain the details.”
Taking his cue, the ysoki steps forward, adjusts his glasses one final time, and continues the briefing, “Athaeum is one of the great wonders of the galaxy. It has no fixed location; rather, it disappears and reappears throughout the universe at seemingly random intervals. It’s not random, of course. You see, the planet actually has a powerful magical engine tha—”
“Royo,” Luwazi chides the elderly ysoki, shaking him from his tangential explanation.
Royo nods before continuing, “Ah yes, sorry. Where was I? Oh, yes! A group called the Curators controls and maintains Athaeum, along with the world’s libraries that contain the rarest of knowledge. In fact, all knowledge on the planet is unique because the Curators actively ensure that every piece of information stored on their world is the last copy in existence. They have even gone so far as to destroy knowledge on other planets to ensure that this is the case.”
“For long time we were unable to secure access to Athaeum’s libraries,” continues Luwazi, “But recently, Iteration-177, a member of the Aspis Consortium sympathetic to the Starfinder Society, indicated that they have a relationship with the Curators. Through Iteration-177, we have secured passage for a small group to the library world. Your mission is to escort Royo to Athaeum and uncover whatever information you can on the Scoured Stars. Additionally, try to establish a good relationship with the Curators, who could prove to be useful allies in the days to come.”
If you have the High Society Influence (Royo) boon, this is a good scenario to slot it in (First Mandate)
A Ysoki who still has some grease stains on his fingers wipes them off on his clothes before sticking one of his fingers in his right ear and scratching the inside
"Escort Royo here to a sometimes dissapearing library world to uncover any information about the Scoured Stars and try to get on some Curators good side...gotcha"
" ...what could possibly go wrong with that....?"
"I do have a question since you mention them being so difficult on being the only ones that have certain information....how are we supposed to get the information of the planet? Memorize it? Do they check what you take with you when you leave?Do we need to smuggle it out? Do we need to blast our way out after we got it?"
Rocket then thinks to himself
"..please say we need to blast our way out.."
"I've got no problems with blasting our way out, but it might but a cramp in the whole good relationship part"
Rocket tilts his head while looking at Royo
"Or do we have permission to search for information and take it with us?"
Luwazi appreciates the sentiment and the humorous suggestion of blasting out “At this stage it is difficult to say what we are looking for, let alone the form it may take. All knowledge on Athaeum is unique, and much of it is stored on mediums other than books. All we know is that one of the vaults on the planet is dedicated to the Scoured Stars. What is inside the vault, we cannot say."
"Royo is an excellent researcher and master of his vast range of fields, I am sure he can memorise and understand enough information if it comes to that, but fostering an ongoing relationship should open the opportunity for further study"
"Take only memories"
Rocket gives a salute before hiking up his belt which is weighted down with various mechanical parts, weapons and what looks a lot like volatile substances with one hand and lifting a heavy looking weapon with an under-barrel grenade launcher with his other hand onto his shoulder
"Righto, we can do that"
"..I hope anyways.."
"So I assume you've arranged for some transport to get us there?"
after asking that question Rocket glances around the room at the others present
"urhm..unless one of you lot has any questions they wish to ask before we go?'
he asks with a sheepish grin on his face as if feeling he should apologize for having poor social skills and not letting anyone else get a word in while he daydreamed of massive explosions at his back he exits a vault on a mysterious planet filled with secrets.
A small female halfling looks up from her data comp that she was taking notes on. She looks towards Royo, bats her eyes a little and smiles, "Oh, Royo, I am glad to work with you again. And we can talk about all Athaeum and the Curators on the way. I am certain we will need all this information before we get there. But could you give us a brief synopsis of the Curators and what we know about them?"
Looking towards Luwazi, "Oh Captain my captain...you secured passage. This sounds a bit different than normal passage. Are we taking a Drake or a Pegasus, or the typical shuttles?"
Showing her prejudices a little, maybe some kind of ancient family hostility, her eyes narrow a bit."And while we are on the subject of passage, and how we got it...Iteration-177. I remember him, a very suave person if I do say so myself. They talked quite a nice ring around some of the others I was with during that soriée. I realized that for every one or two pieces of information we seemed to get out of him, he was probably getting half a dozen or more. What more do we know about them and their reason for helping us this time? Will we have to do a favor in return, or agree to do something for them?"
A human girl wearing a white blouse and long pale-yellow pleated skirt practically stumbles into the room as she rushes to arrive in something approximating 'on time'. "Oh my gosh Luwazi, sorry I'm late!" She rights herself and takes a moment to sweep her two extra long turquoise pigtails behind her before looking at the assembled team (and venture captain) with a sunny smile "Wow, hi everyone! So zetta nice to meet you all! I'm Lynn, Starfinder and Idol, all in one package!~" She throws a peace sign. "Super nice to see you again Royo! Hope your research is going well." She waves at the scholarly ysoki.
She listens in to the briefing while humming one of the songs she sang at Luwazi's gala a few months ago.
As the briefing wraps up, Lynn has the thoughtful look across her face. "Hmmm, these Curator guys seem really kinda awful. Destroying books and data records and other stuff just to have the only copy around is a really mean thing to do. I mean - what if something happened to their special library planet? That's super selfish, and risky besides." She puts her hands on her hips "Right Royo?"
"Plus, if these Curators think there's a copy of the info we need in Royo's head they might just... do something really bad to make sure it doesn't leave."
"Oh, maybe we can trade some other info?" She presses a finger to her cheek as she thinks "Hmm, do we know how Iteration-177 has a relationship with these guys? Maybe that'd give us an idea of what we'd need to trade."
Luwazi and Royo return the fond greetings and take a few moments to engage in small talk, Royo especially with those who have had positive interations with him in the past...
"So I assume you've arranged for some transport to get us there?"
"Oh Captain my captain...you secured passage. This sounds a bit different than normal passage. Are we taking a Drake or a Pegasus, or the typical shuttles?"
Luwazi smiles"You will travel there aboard the Diligent Forerunner, a perfectly serviceable vessel, it leaves in 12 hours"
Royo listens in to the shared concerns of Janilla and Line-04 before giving a measured reply.
“The Curators are axiomites, outsiders made from the pure lawful essence of Axis. They often choose to look elven in appearance, but in theirtrue forms, they are clouds of mathematical symbols. These particular axiomites exiled themselves from their home plane so that they could better pursue their mission to preserve unique knowledge. Since then, they’ve maintained the immense archives on Athaeum.”
"Yes I do recall Iteration-177 attending a party. Iteration-177 was not forthcoming with details about their relationship with the Curators, and we decided not to press the issue. From what I understand, the android has personal business on the planet already and is transporting another group there as well. Iteration-177 was also reticent on who the other group is and that group’s mission on Athaeum.”
Rocket looks happy..maybe because he's still thinking about explosions..but happy none the less ;) ..actually..hold on a sec
Rocket turns his head back towards Royo as he's about to leave as he hears mention about another group
"..what's that about another group being transported there? What group would that be? "
"..and what's an axiomite?"
Mystiscm?: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (11) + 1 = 12
I was about to ask that out loud until I googled what reticent means and found out he didn't want to tell us about it..so changed it to what Rocket would think to himself. Other then trying to find out if we'd need anything specific against an axiomite (just in case it comes up later in the scenario...) ready to move on
"Hmmmmm?" Lynn taps her cheek as Royo explains, not entirely satisfied with the explanation. "So, Iteration-177's got some secret friends and secret stuff going on that he needs to bring another group to the library planet. Anyone else getting really weird vibes from that?"
She snaps her fingers "Oh Royo, anything you think we should bring? What's this planet like anyway? If the axiomites are maths clouds, they might keep their planet pretty inhospitable."
Mysticism, what does Lynn know about axiomites?: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (8) + 8 = 16
Trying to get a feel for if we need to buy some items. Otherwise Lynn's ready to go.
Giving Royo her most dazzling smile and eye bat,"Royo...Iteration-177 might be hesitant to mention any of this, and being very evasive about it. But did you get any inkling if this 'other group' might be there to interfere with us, or might be using us as a smoke screen?"
Diplomacy on Royo: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (19) + 9 = 28
It is pretty obvious that Janilla has some almost....hereditary bias against the Aspis and their agents.
When I came up with the idea for her, I figure she was told stories about her great^x grandmother and her workings with the then Pathfinder Society. The family considered Janira a true hero, so the Gavix name goes through the female side to stay true to her memories.
Janilla waits to hear what Royo suggests they bring...mentally thinking if she should get more items to put in her Starfinder Backpack....
Once Royo gives any last minute suggestions, and Janilla buys them if needed, she is ready to go
Royo nods sagely "We will be in perfectly comfortable circumstances, almost certainly indoors - the Athaeum is visited by a wide range of scholars who wish to seek knowledge in the archives, however, this might be libraries, exhibits, vaults - the collection is immense"
Royo leads to you a space-ship bay, where you meet with Iteration-177 your Aspis consortium contact. "Welcome aboard the Diligent Forerunner" it says. The ship is a good looking one, sleek with a golden hue to it. Luxury cruiser for the mega-rich is the instant thought.
You are shown to your cabins and allowed to settle in, when you are summoned to the dining hall.
A long dining table, low to the ground, fills the center of the room. Dozens of colorful pillows surround the table, and two roughly human-sized individuals, each wearing black armor, sit cross-legged at the far end of the table. In the center of the table sits a strange technological device made of silver metal and curved glass.
“Everyone, please have a seat around the table. Our ship will be entering the Drift shortly.” Iteration-177 announces in a calm voice.
“To keep us amused on our trip, I have made arrangements for a very special dinner. As a connoisseur of unusual sensations and experiences, I recently purchased a device from a deep-space trader. It is a pencibiter, which you see on the table before you. This most unique machine can transmute thoughts and psychic energy into food for consumption. I ask that each of you contribute one thought or memory to our feast for this evening, and in this way, we will get to know one another a little better.”
"Uhm..just so I know what I'll be getting into...does that pencilbiter machine duplicate that memory or does it extract it from my brain and will it be gone forever? And is this safe? Has it been tested on humans and been approved for use before it goes onto the Ysoki market?"
As they walk to the shuttle, Janilla pulls her computer out and quickly types a few emails off, trying to see if she can play the market a little to get some pharmaceuticals she might need later. With that done she puts her computer away and follows Royo.
Getting to the ship. Seeing that it is apparently Iteration-177's ship she mentally sighs. Putting her charming smile on though she looks up at Iteration-177. "What a wonderful ship. Much better transport than the last one I was on. I swore it was about to fall apart."
Bluff on attempting to pretend to be happy to see him...the part about the previous ship wanting to fall apart isn't a lie: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (19) + 6 = 25
Seeing the cabin suite, she sighs a bit in longing. This opulence is well beyond anything she ever grew up with, or even really has experienced to date.
Walking into the dining room, she goes to sit down on one of the cushions...preferably a hard and tall one (so she won't have her face at table level).
Listening to Iteration-177 about the pencibiter, she tries to figure out what it is, and anything she might know about it.
1d20 + 10 ⇒ (16) + 10 = 26 Add +2 if it is a Magic or Hybrid item (for Arcanamirium sage bonus) and I don't need to be able to detect magic spell to identify if it is a magical item (again sage bonus). If this is Technological, Engineering or Medicine would be +7 (so -3 to what was rolled).
Only peripherally listening to Iteration-177 talking to Rocket she does a quick once over at Iteration-177 and its 2 dark guests, trying to identify them, or at least see what, if anything stands out on them and to get a feel of them and the ambiance of the situation.
Perception: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (5) + 10 = 15
Sense Motive on them also: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (4) + 8 = 12
Janilla appears to be completely delighted to be on board and in the company of Iteration-177, it seems they are almost old friends.
The guests still seem a mystery, the black armour covering them giving her nothing to work with.
implanted into it. Moreover, creatures that eat some of the disc can experience the memory in a distant way, as if they were remembering it as their own memory.
Iteration-177 turns to Janilla as she takes an interest, happy that his friend has shown an interest "Your companions seem, reticent. Would you care to be first?"
Smiling, she does that little tittering laugh "Iteration-177, I am certain that they are hesitant because you likely have found such a unique item, and what it does seems beyond anything they have experienced."
With that she takes the node easily, and puts it on her forehead. And thinks on one of her most amazing memories.
Walking into the Communion vaults ('Oh dear, should I be showing this goes through her head as she realizes some of the items that people might see when eating her thoughts') and past all the relics and creatures that the Starfinders possesses in here, she walks into a stark chamber where the Whisperer of Solar Winds, a jellyfish-like being floats in midair, glowing. Looking up at it, and feeling...something, and almost drops relic she got from Preahan. She knows the Whisperer is 'THE Dream prophet', something she is just now realizing is her calling also. She knows that this something must be some kind of connection, she can almost hear something...a vague feeling of something vast--well beyond her comprehension--but she knows that with more time to commune with the Whisperer, she would truly be able to understand it. And then a hand on her shoulder shaking her out of the trance "Janilla you okay,"says her friend Kaeri.
I could probably write a whole few paragraphs on this memory, and unfortunately it is a GM using what he knows of a couple of scenarios to put in the 2 lines of 'you get to meet the Dreamer to deliver the relics' from the end of a scenario, and assuming that her and Kaeri are friends. They really didn't even describe much of the Dreamer in that first scenario :-(
Lynn takes a seat at the long table, straight backed, and arranges her skirt over the colorful pillows carefully. She smiles at Iteration-177 and his two guests "Hey Iteration! Nice to see you again too! And who are your two friends here? I'm Lynn by the way." They seem more the hand-shaking sort, so she extends a friendly hand in greeting.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11
Life Science, can she tell what kind of creature they are?: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (13) + 9 = 22
Or perhaps shaking hands is not something they're into. She turns her attention to Janilla instead, who appears to be undergoing some kind of positive experience based on her look while holding the pencibiter node to her head. She claps as Janilla releases the node. "Wow, that must have been a great memory! I hope it tastes sweet~" She takes the node from the halfling and turns it over in her hand. "Hehe, it's a little scary, but here goes!" She raises the device to her forehead...
And it begins gathering some of the nightmarish haze that fills Lynn's memory banks before she manages to focus her inner thoughts on a more 'acceptable' memory. Her face goes blank.
>REGRET. THEY HAD NOT BEEN QUICK ENOUGH OR RESOURCEFUL ENOUGH TO REACH THE BEING BEFORE ITS LIFE HAD BEEN SNUFFED OUT. HERE IN THIS PLACE. DEEP IN THE OCEAN OF THIS STRANGE WORLD, IN THE COMPANY OF THESE ALIENS IN STEAD OF ITS OWN KIND. SLAIN FOR PURPOSES OF RELIGIOUS ORIGIN. DELUSION. RITUAL. LIFE LOST FOR NO VALUE AT ALL. KILLERS ONLY FAULT IS IN INFIRMITY OF MENTAL PROCESSING. CULTIVATION OF ERRORS BY WAY OF MACHINATIONS OF GOD OF CHAINS. ANALYSIS INDICATES TRAGEDY.
>DESIRE. MINE. SHOULD HAVE BEEN MINE. ALL THEIR EYES SHOULD BE ON-
She pulls the node away, face impassive. She raises her arm for a moment as if she's going to throw the device at full strength at the ground, but she halts. Instead, she places the node carefully back on the table and gives a sunny smile to her host.
There is a pause as Janilla forms the scene in her mind and the pencibter hums into action with a flashand creates a colored disk about 1 foot in diameter.
Royo attaches the probe to his mind and the machine repeats the process.
Lynn strikes up her conversation and Iteration-177 apologises immediately "But I am a poor host! These are my two guests, Kelria and Loomarch. They are members of the Hellknights."
Each of them stands and offers a stiff bow.
"They are here with a small contingent of their order, as they too have business on Athaeum, and I am as keen to assist them as you."
Rocket returns what could be considered a bow if your definition of bowing is a bit of the light side as he almost topples over as his weight distribution shift and he has to scramble back up to avoid falling face down.
"Hellknights you say? That sounds intriguing
Culture? what do I know about Hellknights in starfinder: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 = 3
"Are they joining us for dinner? Do we all share by the way and then take bites out of each others memories.. or do we each get one disk and we get to pick which one we consume? Or it's a big pile and we randomly choose one?"
Just wondering if it's possible to get a memory from one of the Hellknights, even if we have to use sleight of hand/bluff or something for it
Rocket doesn't recall anything about Hellknights
"We shall join you" comes a gruff and commanding reply as one of them removes it's helm, revealing a vesk underneath pictured "Paralictor Kelria, Order of the Pyre" She takes the node, there is a brief flash, and a disc is produced. Iteration-177 adds it to a serving platter.
The other Hellknight also replies from behind their full faced helmet "Maralictor Loomarch", the voice strangely distant. Loomarch applies the node to his helmet, produces the now familiar flash, and another disc is produced.
Iteration-177 waves his hands over the discs as if to show them off and tantalise you all "Once everyone who wishes to has shared a memory, we can take turns sampling them all"
Perception: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (14) + 0 = 14 Well, that's about as well as I can hope for with a +0!
"Kelria and Loomarch! Super nice to meet you! I hope your memories are tasty. Mine's gonna probably be a bit sour." She smiles at the two hellknights, then turns to Rocket and Dora. "Hey, you guys should give one too. It'd be more fun that way~"
Culture; Who are the Order of the Pyre?: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (3) + 11 = 14
Janilla sees Iteration-177's smile starting to wane and decides to speak up. "Come now, this wonderful item that Iteration-177 has procured is harmless. While I admit that it is VERY unusual, all it does is react to your memory to make an edible item, and dependent on what the memory was, the wafers taste changes. Honestly, the worst that might happen is we see some...revealing...memory of you. People eating the memory can sometimes experience the memory of the person who made the edible item. Kinda like a vague day-dream about the memory."
With that, she also realizes that she is emphasizing with Iteration-177, seeing that people sometime worry unnecessarily...including her.
Rocket sits down and attaches the device to his head
"Is this correct?" before the machine turns on and his eyes glace over
The view shifts to a pair of small hands which when the image moves around to include an image in a mirror turn out to below to a very young Rocket before moving back to a box labeled "Build your very own walk-a-bot" and then proceeds to the unpackaging of the toy followed by the assembly of the various parts while useing the included tools and the sheer joy and laughter when it's finally assembled with various degrees of success as it start to walk with a slight limp and can't make it further than a continuous circle for 4-5 times before toppling over while one leg continues to stay in motion up in the air...all the while accompanied with the sounds of delight, laughter and clapping hands
Dora passes on the opportunity to participate.
Iteration-177 breaks up the produced thought-discs and places them on the table as part of a beautifully laid out meal, "Please, share" he urges everyone to sample bits of each others thoughts.
Feel free to read the spoilers of the ones you sample, you can obviously read the posts of the other players...
Loomarch’s memory tastes both savory and sweet, tinged with the thrill of freedom. You see a Kasatha Hellknight performing a ritual, only for the spell to fail. The kasatha withers into flame and disappears. At the same time, a demonic fire spirit forms in the air and then flies into the empty Hellknight armor, animating it with life.
Kelrias memory tastes of smoke and ash. You feel the heat of flames licking up your legs and see Kelria consumed by fire atop a spike of iron within a Hellknight fortress. A feeling of triumph and resignation fills the memory as Kelria emerges from the flames unscathed.
The ysoki’s memory has a dry and earthy taste. You receive a vision of sitting in a cozy library, surrounded by the smell of old paper and stacks of enormous books. While the taste is slightly off-putting, the memory’s vision and artificial smell are calming.
Janilla will taste each slowly, though she does notice something. "Iteration-177, where is your memory? Or as a host, are you saying all you were supplying for this dinner was the Pencibiter to make the feast?"
Iteration-177 laughs gently "And destroy my carefully cultivated air of mystery?" he replies, the tone being hard to pick between self-deprecating humour or honest opinion "I am just your humble host, this was a gift for you, my guests"
Each memory theme is 'categorised', the categories are below:
• Choleric (PCs who chose an angry or violent memory)
• Melancholic (PCs who chose an analytical, wise, or quiet memory)
• Phlegmatic (PCs who chose a relaxed or peaceful memory)
• Sanguine (PCs who chose an active, enthusiastic, or social memory)
I'm thinking your memories are thus:
Janilla - Melancholic
Lynn - Choleric
Rocket - Phlegmatic
Happy for any changes if you think you should be categorised differently!
The dinner starts to draw to its conclusion...
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@Categorization: I'm surprised there's nothing for 'sorrowful'. Otherwise I think Choleric fits well!
Lynn nibbles on the memory wafers, brows wiggling at the experience. "Ummm, hmm, ehhhhhhh." She scrunches her face up, smiling a little as she does, and then sets the wafers down firmly. "They were nice, but um, kinda a really weird experience." She glances pointedly at the two hellknights.
"Yours was really relaxing Royo! And what a sense of awe from yours Janilla!" She settles back on her cushion and spends the rest of the evening deflecting any questions about her own memory with smiles and laughter.
Really interesting, looks like Loomarch is actually a demon inhabiting a suit of armor? I've got a strange feeling that the reason we got to see this was because it might serve as a hint to fighting them later :/
As the meal draws to a close, Iteration-177 thanks you for attending - "And also for participating in the entertainment. We have a few hours still before we arrive, so you may want to rest in your cabins."
Feel free to ask any last questions
When you get to you cabins, you find a couple of presents waiting, with a card from Iteration-177 thanking you for your participation. The gift baskets include exotic lotions, oils and spices. All quite valuable.
Snuggled in amongst them all are a couple of mk 2 serums of healing, and a mk2 ring of resistance (total, not each!) :)
"Well..that was a new experience"
Rocket comments after consuming memories for the first time in his existence as he rubs his brow and tries to makes sense of what just happened.
I am fine with that theme for my memory. And to Rocket's new experience on words, yeah, the only reason I know one is because of a stint many years ago playing/reading Warhammer 40k, and the other because my wife has an English Degree.
Janilla takes bites of each wafer, almost attempting to savor both the taste of each--even if some are not exactly suited to her palate--and to savor the glimpse of the memory.
Looking to the two hellknights, she smiles.
Bluff: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (18) + 6 = 24 Figure she is bluffing to show that she doesn't react to the memory of Loomarch, or the bad taste of Keiria's
"What exquisite taste...okay well not so much the taste as in the sensation of the taste. I can say that I have never tasted such amazing things at any table Iteration-177. Though I would have loved to taste that cultivated mystery of your memory. I am certain it would have been sweeter than honey, but with a subtle taste of some kind of spice."
Having no other questions for our host, nor his other guests, Janilla will lightly sip the wine and listen to the conversation. Once the dinner has broken up, she will head back to her cabins.
Shifty, just a heads up, Janilla does have Augry, and will likely cast it right before they depart the ship for Athaeum. The question (and spending the 1 RP, reflected in my stats next to my image) would be "Would keeping an eye on the Hellknights help or hurt our chances of allying with the Curators". I trust you rolling in secret, don't have to put a spoiler or anything. And yeah, Janilla is actually meant for a IRL table, but she is so much fun, and pbp can get her personality out better.
If no one else claims it, Lynn will wear the Mk2 Ring of Resistance to buff her puny fort save.
As the meal draws to a close, Lynn offers to provide some of her own entertainment as people sip their post-meal coffees or cocktails or whatever else suit-inhabiting-demonic-entities might partake in. She spends a moment to set some music flowing from her miniamp, and then takes a position on one end of the room, turning the place into an impromptu stage.
She holds her mic up close and begins ♫♪ a slow, quiet and peaceful song reflecting on the passing seasons ♫♪.
After a few of her own songs, Lynn also takes requests.
Iteration-177 seems to have quite the fast new friend in Janilla, who appears to be the most fabulous guest a host could hope for. "You are so flattering, I am delighted the pencibiter was so well recieved, and that as a host I have brought my guests so much closer together"
The Hellknights offer very little of themselves, the Vesk at least displaying some basic pleasantries, the suit of armour mostly mute.
Following a brief stop, the Diligent Forerunner drops out of the Drift. Through the windows of the spacecraft, you can see an empty expanse of space, into which a planet suddenly appears, crackling with arcs of ivory energy. Iteration-177 addresses the ship’s occupants over the speaker system and ushers your team, Royo, and the Hellknights into a spacious shuttle, which departs for the planet immediately.
Most of the surface of Athaeum is spotted with vine-covered stone domes and towers, creating the impression that the ship is landing in some ancient and long forgotten city. Many of the city’s buildings incorporate massive gears and timekeeping devices, each slowly winding with inscrutable purpose.
A nearby cracked stone pavilion is visible from outside the shuttle windows, nestled between towering skyscrapers. A stone door slides open in one of the nearby vine-covered towers, and three clouds of glowing, crystalline dust emerge. These clouds float and form into a series of formulae and mathematical symbols in midair before suddenly coalescing into the image of three elven humanoids that patiently wait for the shuttle to land.
As you disembark, one approaches the hellknights, one Iteration-177 and the last one approaches your team.
“Greetings, esteemed guests from the Starfinder Society. I am Albryan, and I am tasked with guiding you to the Towers of Recondite Lore, where the information you requested resides. Before I do so, I would like to remind of the rules of research on Athaeum. All the information stored on Athaeum is unique. Visitors are welcome to read from our manuscripts, but copying or recording them in any way is forbidden. Should you choose to reproduce any acquired knowledge after leaving Athaeum, know that you do so at your own risk. We Curators will actively punish such transgressions. Know that there is no corner of the cosmos safe from us."
He watches you all, and then continues.
“Additionally, violence against the Curators or other visitors is strictly prohibited. Finally, visitors to the libraries will be charged a substantial research fee. Fortuitously for you, during our recent shift to this corner of the universe, Athaeum passed through a dangerous energy field that has greatly damaged our systems. We are correcting the problems, but our resources are spread thin. We have flagged two issues in the specific tower you are traveling to. If you can deal with these problems, we are prepared to greatly reduce our usual fee.”
Royo pulls you aside and pipes in excitedly "The Society is already putting a significant amount of resources into satisfying the demands of the Curators, and while Luwazi Elsebo has authorized the expense, the we would do well to lower the cost"
Love the description of this place!
Lynn claps her hands together and exclaims "Lucky!" before bowing to the axiomite. "Sure we can help! Lynn'll fix any kinda tech problems you have in a flash!" She grins at the outsider. "And if they're not tech problems, well, we'll work together and show you what Starfinders are capable of! You won't regret it."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (16) + 8 = 24
"So, what kind of issues are you seeing? And are there any bits of that energy field still hanging around here? Sounds like it might be dangerous to poor little squishy people like us."
Janilla disembarks with the rest of her allies, though she is staying close to Royo, in case the elderly ysoki needs any help.
Seeing the axiomites coming, she sees if she can recall anything specifically about them.
Mysticism: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (14) + 10 = 24
Seeing them coalesce she is both amazed and enthralled in the symbols. Once Albryan starts to speak she refocuses on him(?) instead of her thoughts.
After hearing the axiomite, Janilla has a question."Albryan, I am trying to understand something. We are allowed to read and understand the knowledge you have in your manuscripts, but not copy them, being implied that you mean a physical medium. My deity, Talavet, believes in story and telling of stories. A story is the copying of knowledge, just orally. I want to make sure that we--the Starfinders here, and especially Royo--won't get in trouble if we relate what we learn to others orally. Am I correct with my understanding?"
"Issues, are they mechanical, or magical? I am certain that we as a group can fix any of these kind of issues. Can you please elaborate?"
If needed Janilla auto assists (has a +9 to roll) Lynn's Diplomacy
The curator looks Janilla straight in the eyes, unblinking, "The Curators have pledged themselves to the preservation of knowledge, albeit with one minor caveat: all knowledge stored in the archives of Athaeum must be the last copies in existence. If your storytellers are formally considered 'a copy' due to your customs and traditions, then those copies will all need to be erased. Take only memories, share only ideas. You may describe, but you may not replicate"
He then turns back to addressing the the party as a whole “First, our lore warden constructs in the Tower of the Oma have been infected by malicious data and are malfunctioning. Long ago, a group of doomsday cultist hackers created a prophetic virus, believing that once enough machines were infected, a new age would dawn throughout the universe. We eventually isolated the virus and brought it here for safekeeping. The recent damage to our systems, however, allowed part of the code to transmit to nearby devices, which happened to be a group of passing security machines. The machines are now roaming the
halls of the tower, infected with delusions of grandeur. If you destroy these machines and recover a copy of the virus, we can return it to storage safely".
“Second, a special ksarik specimen named Vindurth has escaped from its cage in the tower. We captured an ancestor of Vindurth some years ago on the planet Castrovel because the hide of the beast was covered with indecipherable runes. Since then we have bred several generations from the beast, of which Vindurth is the most recent. Each has produced a new series of runes for us to record. Although relatively tame, Vindurth become dangerous if allowed to wander free. If possible, find a way to bring the ksarik back to its cage.”
Diplomacy to make amends to Albyran: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (11) + 9 = 20
Smiling at Albyran,"I was just making certain that that memories and ideas of what we learn is not a physical copy. I had a friend who was a lawyer, and his influence in looking at wording has rubbed off on me. I would never copy any of the memories and ideas on what I learn here down into something physical. The experience of the journey here, and seeing this place is a memory I will keep with me for my life."
Listening to the 'mission' Janilla pipes up with a few questions,"Question about this doomsday cult....is it one that is still around, or is it a dead cult? Mainly worried about if this virus might want to get back to its maker, or if it us just a mindless virus taking over machines. Also, I don't know about any of my friends, but do we have to worry about it taking over our technological items? Dealing with this ksarik, does it have anything it likes? Maybe something like a ksarik version of catnip? Something we can use to lure it back to its cage?"
Lynn crosses her arms and presses a finger against her cheek. "Hmmmm, Janilla's right, that virus sounds scary! How does it spread? Do you have some kind of special data storage cube we can use to download it from a destroyed security robot and keep it isolated?"
And as the second of the tasks is described, she adds "I just got back from Castrovel, and I'm super not good with big hungry animals." She gives her team a worried-looking glance "How about you guys?"
Computers; what does Lynn know about the Doomsday Virus and/or handling and isolating it?: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (13) + 12 = 25
Life Science; what does Lynn know about ksariks: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (2) + 9 = 11
"Well, this arc pistol has a stun setting. I'm afraid that's the best I've got to offer unless somewhere in the huge library there's a book on how to get a Ksarik back into it's cage"
Do they have a book on Ksariks in here we could read? Information is ammunition
Janilla sees Albyran Pic in slides smile in return at her politeness, but is left with the gut feeling that the Axiomites have a very fixed view of the world that is very much centred on their absolutist beliefs, and that negotiating shades of grey is an alien concept in their very binary black and white world.
He nods sagely at the observations and questions around the virus raised by Dora, Janilla, and Lynn
"The cult is no longer, their golden age never seeing the dawn they desired. We have remotely isolated the systems to cease any further transmission of the virus, but there is always the risk that it may be transferred if you come into contact with the guardians" he eyes off Dora and her robot ponderously "It should be easy enough to infect another tech device and maintain a copy of the virus, but perhaps not one with the ability to transmit."
Lynn has definitely come across similar viruses in the past and is completely certain it would be possible to transfer a copy of the virus onto another technological device (such as a computer, comm unit, or non-analog weapon). This would disable the item until the virus is removed.
She also thinks a competent engineer would probably have some other viable strategies
"I hope you do not need to use that Stun pistol, but do what you must" he then proceeds to give Rocket a rather lengthy answer...
"Ksariks’ ancestors lived as mindless, animate plants that scavenged for food and sprouted their seedlings within corpses, rarely posing more than an incidental threat to other species. Millennia of ongoing strife between the planet’s formians and lashuntas bombarded these primeval ksariks with psychic energy, and only decades before the two factions’ recent peace deal, the plants began exhibiting rudimentary intelligence and a predatory drive. In an unsettlingly small number of generations, ksariks have developed a pack mentality, low cunning, and the preternatural ability to adopt competitors’ strengths.
A typical ksarik is a 12-foot-long quadruped made up of dense plant matter, including specialized tissues such as powerful tendons, woody internal supports that resemble bones, and flexible sheets of lignin that serve as a form of armor. Its head is immense and stocky, comprising approximately a dozen feeding tendrils that obscure its underdeveloped mouthparts. Its eyestalks project from either side of its head, providing a wide range of vision that sacrifices much of its ability to see targets immediately in front of it. To make up for this, a ksarik’s feeding tendrils are covered in an array of unusual sensory organs: some can discern the source of smells, while others sense movement and changes in light.
Originally occupying a niche between decomposers and scavengers, ksariks adapted to sniff out carrion and digest every piece of a rotting corpse. A ksarik’s body produces a steady supply of several different acids that help it break down food into a more manageable form, and modern ksariks regularly employ these acids in self-defense and hunting. The plants also have numerous thorns that grow along their legs and back. Botanists theorize that these also served as self-defense when the ksariks were slower-moving creatures that resided lower on the food chain. Now, however, ksariks use these thorns as a form of reproduction, firing them into live prey and infecting those creatures with spores that gradually grow into nascent ksariks that feed on the host, and then painfully burrow out of the flesh days later. The spores must be fertilized beforehand in a process that resembles sexual congress between two ksariks, leaving both with a supply of seeds that remain viable for months afterward.
The most fearsome of the ksarik’s abilities is its capability of extracting and assimilating other creatures’ genetic codes, temporarily mimicking its prey’s adaptations. Studies suggest this ability is as much tied to a ksarik’s physical characteristics as it is some rudimentary psychic ability that allows the plant to adjust its body in accordance with a stolen genetic blueprint. Most of this code is unstable within the plants, meaning ksariks can rarely maintain an adaptation for more than a minute or, at most, a few hours.
However, trace amounts of foreign DNA remain, and it appears that parents are able to pass lesser versions of their adopted abilities to their offspring.
This enhanced evolution has drawn ksariks into otherwise unsuitable habitats, where they have quickly outcompeted other species, even driving several of them to extinction. Due to this explosive growth, most lashuntas consider them an ecological nuisance, though xenobiologists have lobbied against the species’ eradication until it can be properly studied—especially now that the ksariks have begun absorbing and demonstrating signs of rudimentary culture.
The most notable evidence of this cultural development is the lilting melodies ksariks sing when in close proximity to one another. Scientists have yet to discover the purpose of these songs, as their best efforts to determine if they provide any information to the plants has failed.
What’s more, their attempts to replicate the sounds only lead to angering nearby ksariks, the creatures being seemingly affronted by the endeavor. These sounds appear to emanate directly from a ksarik’s skin instead of any particular orifice, a fact that opponents of ksarik conservation hold as proof that the plants aren’t purposefully making them. Of course, those on the other side of the argument believe it doesn’t matter from where the songs come"
As Albryan speaks, he escorts you all to the far side of the plaza, where a stone shuttle attached to magically powered stone rails awaits. "This shuttle will transport you to the Towers of Recondite Lore. Once there, you should seek out the Tower of the Oma; the top floor of this tower holds Athaeum’s information vault on the Scoured Stars. Normally I would accompany you on your visit, but due to the crisis with Athaeum’s systems, my presence is required elsewhere"
Royo boards the shuttle and awaits the rest of you...
With regret Janilla will power down K.S., her datapad. Best not get it infected with a virus.
Listening to Albryan's lengthy explanation of ksariks, she shudders. Mentally thinking, 'why does it seem that a lot of the xeno-creatures have way to reproduce by infecting with their parasitic babies....'
Putting on a brave face, she nods. "Right'o. Might as well get to it, we are wasting daylight--at at least this places equivalent. I definitely don't want to meet this ksarik in a dark lonely alley...."