September 5, 2011

Superhero Adventure: Garden of Eden

The next few weeks will see some superhero adventures appearing on this website. On Mondays I will post the main adventure, with the following days being taken up by supplemental information such as details on villains, organizations, etc.

Garden of Eden

An archangel, Gabriel, has appeared before the world and has opened the way into the Garden of Eden for true believers to enjoy. This Garden is a thing of beauty among the desert. It lies within the Ash Sharqiyah section of the Rub' al Khali Desert, near the triple borders of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman.

Part One: Lost
These are a few encounters that can be run as warm-ups. They are all designed for a single hero. While they can accommodate larger groups, this is a good opportunity to allow the characters to shine as individuals.

Lost Priest
This is a good encounter for a character with “street” ties. A local, and popular, priest has gone missing. This could be someone the character knows; if not it is Father Benjamin. Upon investigating the character will come across a thug stealing the priest’s possessions from wherever the player goes looking for the priest, i.e. the church, his home, the food pantry he runs, etc. After a fight (the thug is a standard enemy) the enemy will reveal that the priest suddenly left his parish. Word on the street said he is not coming back, so the thug thought he would help himself to some of his stuff. Word is the priest left the country on a holy pilgrimage and is planning on staying in the “promised land”.

If the character decides to do some further investigating he will learn that quite a few religious leaders (and other devout people) have left the country. All have left for the Middle East and the term “the promised land” keeps coming up.

Lost Diplomat
The UN contacts one of the PCs and asks him to look into a missing UN diplomat, Trevor Howard. Trevor Howard is a specialist on Middle Eastern relations and was scheduled to come back to the States for a briefing at the UN headquarters. Trevor did indeed come back into the country eight days ago but has been missing since then.

Trevor Howard has lost his mind. Trevor had a confrontation with the villain Set and learned of Set’s plans. Trevor managed to get away and board a plane, but not before Set had hit him with a debilitating attack. Trevor slowly lost his cognitive functions and had to be helped off the plane. Trevor is still at the airport and now looks and acts like a bum.

If the character manages to figure out where he is and can find him, he will not be of much use. One interesting bit of information though is a map of the Rub' al Khali Desert with a location marked. Further investigation will reveal that the location is now where the Garden of Eden has been found.

Lost Villain
A supervillain the characters are familiar with has been spotted downtown. For best affect this villain should be someone the characters known already and have fought before; ideally it will be someone who looks unusual, i.e. can not change form to look normal. Unfortunately only one of the characters is able to respond. Upon getting there the villain is in a bar drinking and not causing problems.

The villain has heard that an angel has come down from the heavens and has opened the gates into the Garden of Eden for all true believers. If this is true then there really is a Hell and there really is a hope for redemption. The villain is shaken to the core and is trying to determine what to do with his life now.

The hero can turn this encounter into a fight, though the villain will only offer token resistance and will stop fighting altogether soon. He will allow himself to be taken into custody, though that is not his preference. The villain would actually rather talk out his questions. How this encounter ends is actually up to the player character.

To the Garden of Eden
By now news of the disclosure of the Garden of Eden should be fairly commonplace. If the characters are disinclined to investigate one of the greatest revelations in current times on their own, then you can use one of the earlier lead-ins to move them toward the garden.

Lost Priest- The characters are asked to investigate the disappearance of more religious figures by going to where they have all gone, the Garden of Eden.

Lost Diplomat- The character is asked to find out what is going on at the Garden of Eden by the UN by following up on Trevor Howard.

Part Two: Garden of Eden

The Garden
The Garden is about 5 square miles of greenery within the desert. Encompassing 3 square miles (the initial area of the Garden when Gabriel opened the Garden) are stone pillars 5’ high, spaced 20’ apart. There is an invisible barrier between each pillar reaching 10’ up. If a person were to make a hard Science roll they could determine the pillars are emitting a force field based on technology, not divine powers. In addition, one of the pillars is hollow and at its base is a trapdoor that leads to an underground tunnel that leads into the pyramid beneath the Garden.

Within the Garden everything is lush. A pool rests near its center with clear, cool water. Every morning a misty dew coats the Garden giving the plant life the water it needs. Also every morning the Garden has spread outward about 20’, the pillars moving as well.

The garden is currently inhabited by about 1000 people, all devout followers of the Abrahamic faiths (Christian, Judaism, Islam). They mostly mill around, acting as if they are in an ecstatic trance. Also there are a few animals, including some lions and tigers. The animals also act sedate and even the carnivores will not attack (proper skill rolls will reveal the animals have not been drugged, but rather their minds have been altered/degraded).

Gabriel (really the villain Set) meets and greets almost all visitors to the Garden. He welcomes them, even the player characters. He welcomes them as non-believers whose witnessing of the Garden of Eden will give more veracity to his words and the miracle of the Garden.

Two unique features consist of the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. The Tree of Life can provide healing, but only for a short time after the morning light strikes the Tree. This is what Gabriel tells the people, but in fact it is Set doing the healing not the Tree. The Tree of Knowledge is behind a protective, opaque shield that only those chosen by Gabriel as being truly devout may pass through. Those who pass through the shield are not seen again (as Set drains their life essence).

War Games
Sometime after the characters get to the Garden of Eden, word will spread that Yemen is sending part of her military to take control of the Garden. Saudi Arabia and Oman soon announce they will send their own armies into the area to make sure no one else takes control of the Garden. The UN states they are organizing a UN task force also.

How the characters react is up to them. They can attempt to mediate a withdrawal of military forces. They can attack an army or two. They can do nothing.

If the characters do nothing, Yemen will indeed send her army into the Garden, first by shelling the perimeter. Gabriel will be able to destroy the army, by draining their life essence. This may be taken by the players that Gabriel is not all he seems to be. Research will also reveal that Set has a similar attack.

The members of Jihad will attack soon after the Yemen attack fails. Their task is to remove forces other than those of Yemen (Yemen hired them). This includes opposing armies and the player characters as well. The players will meet them either as they attack the other armies or as the Jihad seeks the PCs out as their next target.

Beneath the garden is a small pyramid, 100’ wide at its base and it extends from the surface to 95’ below the ground. The tip of the pyramid is the base of the Tree of Knowledge. This pyramid is a focusing point for Set when he activates his life draining ability as part of his final plan.

There is a way into the pyramid from the outside through one of the pillars that is hollow. The players will be able to explore the interior of the pyramid where they find some of the people who were allowed into the Tree of Knowledge. These people have had their minds destroyed and now they toil for Set as mindless minions. They are doing construction work within the pyramid.

It is possible to determine what the purpose of the pyramid is, but will take some hard rolls in Science and Arcana. If they succeed, they will learn this pyramid is part of a network of similar pyramids that is capable of draining life energy from living beings and focusing it all into this pyramid. This network is spread throughout the world as maps within the complex will show. If the technology of this pyramid is destroyed the process can still continue but it will be cruder and take longer. The only truly effective way is to remove the other pyramids spread throughout the world.

Further Clues
If the players become stuck or lost, you can introduce a few extra clues.

Supplies- Crates of supplies are being brought into the Garden, extra food, tents, blankets for all the extra people, etc. If the characters do some research they can find out some are being moved into the hollow pillar. Alternately one of the devout will mention it in passing.

Mossad- Rebecca Brenner is a Mossad agent sent to figure out what is going on here so Israel can determine a course of action. She has discovered the hollow pillar but set off one of its traps. She managed to escape but is now essentially brain-dead by the pillar, where the characters manage to find her first. Her gun should alert the characters that she is more than she appears and hopefully they will investigate the nearby pillar.

Set’s plan is to bring as many people into the Garden as possible. He has set up similar pyramids throughout the world and this one is the activator pyramid. Once he gets this one active, with the sacrifice of the people here, he will begin to drain the life from people all over the world.

On the morning the day after the characters discover the hidden pyramid or the morning of the third day after the characters get to the Garden, whichever comes first, Set will reveal his true self. He will then activate his pyramid. If the pyramid has been disabled he will still start the draining process.

Set is behind several barriers that will need to disabled by a series of skill challenges. To add to the confusion the devout will begin to attack the player characters. All that really needs to be done is succeed on the skill challenges and then do enough damage to Set directly (the amount of damage should not be much). If the characters had disabled the pyramid Set will need longer to finish his draining process and the amount of damage needed to disrupt Set is less. Disrupting the process will cause the underground pyramid to overload and explode. Set will bugger out at this point, but the characters should be working on rescuing as many of the now free-of-mind devout before the pyramid blows.

If Set succeeds in his plan, tens of thousands of people will die throughout the world and Set will have gained a significantly large amount of power. For now he flees with his new power to contemplate what he will do next, but you can be sure it will be even grander.

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