Fenris Punk | The MacGuffins: Act 5 Whittier Arcology

1 Introduction

This story loosely takes some inspiration from Beowulf, both from Grendel and the dragon. It starts out with a partially unrelated task of gather corporate research secrets. After that the PCs face multiple Grendel-like/Grendel's Mother-like androids. Then while searching to defeat their origin they eventually face a dragon.

2 Summary

Doctor Evelyn Vance worked for Daifin R&D to make technological use of magical properties that had manifested since Apophis. She came to Whittier in the early 2060s on a joint contract with Askkon Inc to utilize some of their drill samples from the arctic. Dr Gavin Castle, who went simply by "Gavin", worked along side her to assist any research, but also to ensure Daifin did not monopolize any of the findings.

Doctor Vance developed a new technology called M-Paper that could encapsulate a magical spell. Most early versions of the technomagical M-Paper execute their property as soon as they are observed by another sentient being. The two doctors decided to store them in cases to make it obvious of their contents.

Before they had all been catalogued for shipping, Gavin murdered Doctor Vance and reported to Daifin she had died in a lab accident. He attempted to use a portal spell to hide the body, but the M-Paper containing the portal spell malfunctioned. Instead he hid her body in the lab.

Gavin began selling the cases illegally on the web, also betraying Askkon. He spread all sorts of lies about the abilities behind them, calling them the MacGuffins, though some of them were indeed very powerful.

Big Mac traveled to Whittier to buy up all the stock, but only managed to buy one of the MacGuffins. But when Gavin found out he worked for Daifin, he assume Big Mac was an assassin and tried and failed to have him kill him by hiring an assissin.

However, Gavin did not know that Doctor Vance had a canary. While working on the M-Paper, Daifin had tasked her to reanimate the abandoned US military base Silvertower, deep underground beneath a radio tower, located south of Whittier. The US military originally built the base to construct an army of robots to fight arctic threats in the 2030s, previous to the appearance of androids in everyday society. Doctor Vance had suspected Gavin might betray her. Upon her death, her comlink transmitted the final moments of her life to Siltertower where her drones reactivated the facility to sent assassins to deal with Gavin. It also sent a message to a close personal friend of hers, retired SPD Chief Tony.

Gavin eventually discovered the source of the assassins and left Whittier for Silvertower.

Months later, Askkon became suspicious and learned that Gavin had gone missing. They hired a group of expert bounty hunters to track him down.

Enter the players: Around that same time, the PCs come to the Whittier Arcology to steal a technomagical case from a lab. When they get to the lab, in the middle of an office suit owned by Askkon Inc, an explosion rocks the arcology and the elevators lock down. Two drones passing as sentient androids have stormed the offices looking for Gavin Castle, an employee of Askkon Inc.

Shortly thereafter, another series of drones passing as androids attack the outside of the arcology near the docks where Gavin owns a boat. A combat medic, Aran Nanoq informs them this has happened several times over the last two months and hires the PCs to find out more information.

3 Dramatis Personae

In approximate order of appearance:

4 Hooks

In-universe, the following hooks alone or in combination should allow players to seemlessly add this story to their adventure. Perhaps they arrive by airship in Anchorage and then take the train, through the mountains, to Whittier.

4.1 Hook 1 Retracing Big Mac

Big Cheese has hired the party to return Big Mac's stolen case.

4.2 Hook 2 Following Chief Tony

The party has followed clues they received from investigating the death of Chief Tony.

4.3 Hook 3 Steal Incriminating Evidence

Agent Smithereens convertly hires the PCs come to the Whittier Arcology to steal a technomagical case from a lab to gain evidence for Daifin criminal activity. If Big Mac still lives, he will accompany the party.

4.4 Hook 4 Garra has a job

The players receive a lead from Garra that an associate of her's, Billy Ehm Gruff, has some profitable information from his previous employer. He'll wait at the Beebop Pub.

5 Chapters

The Marine Arcology rises 44 floors above the ocean and goes down 20 floors underground. The ground floor sits mostly over the water and has a higher ceiling to accomodate smaller sea vessels. At its base, it measures approximately 150 x 300 meters (500 x 1000 ft). Harbor Road also goes through the arcology via tunnel. It has a population of about one million, largely refugees from all over the world. The engineers who built the arcology designed it to withstand tsunamis and megatsunamis. It has sloping sides to allow water to wash up and then around, deflecting the force from large amounts of fast moving water.

5.1 Chapter 1 Askkon Inc

The players enter the arcology. The surroundings quickly change from the small marine town to an enclosed arctic metropolis.

5.1.1 Ye Ol' Beebop Haus Pub Inn

Happening place no matter what time of day with tourists from all over, including some from California.

If Big Mac can talk:

I know that guy. That's Billy Ehm Gruff and he works for Askkon Inc. He looks totally smashed.

Gruff is a stereotypical human office worker in his late 50s. He has still has his employee badge and says today was his last day, fired for no reason. He seems like he's enjoying the time off work rather than sobbing over losing his job.

They asked me to clear out my desk by the end of the day, but I don't even care! I'm going to drunk until I have fives more drunks! Keep the desk, I say.

5.1.2 Ground Floor 0

The only practical way to access this floor requires a badge, which the party can get from the drunk Gruff.

  1. Map

    A
    Lifts
    B
    Lift Service shaft.
    C
    Utilities shaft.
    D
    Single occupant washrooms.
    E
    Office Suit 10, S-10
    F
    Office Suit 20, S-20
    G
    Office Suit 30, S-30
    H
    Main Office Suit 42, S-42
    Z
    Main hallway
    
          ##############################
          #Z......#H...................#
          #.......#....................#
          #.......+....................#
          #.......+....................#
          #.......#....................#
          #.......#....................#
          #..######....................#
          #..#G...#....................#
          #..+....#....................#
          #..#....#....................#
          #..######....................#
          #..#F...#....................#
          #..+....#....................#
          #..#....#....................#
          #..######....................#
          #..#E...#...................*#
          #..+....#######..............#
          #..#....#D.#D.#..............#
          #..######+###+################
          #.....................+A#B#C.#
          *.....................###.#..#
          #.....................+A#.#..#
          ##############################
          
          
  2. Main hallway

    The party can smell smoke and hear the faint sound of fans. The point of interest on the far wall, opposite the lifts, has the map directory of the floor. As soon as the party makes it to the directory, an explosion down the hall shakes the whole floor. They will smell smoke and hear screams coming from down the hallway. A smaller explosion behind them will come from one of the lifts. This will leave one lift damaged beyond use and the other one locked down.

  3. Washrooms

    Empty with no sign of excessive use.

  4. S-10

    A dwarf, ork, and android cower behind a desk. Scared, they shout out they have already called emergency (fire fighters and combat medics, though they will obviously take some time).

    The room has its own wireless access point and a hard line.

    The male dwarf looks especially short.

    The female ork seems average height, but has larger than normal teeth, even for an ork.

    The short, feminine android appears just as scared as the other office workers, but is actually a corporate double agent from Daifin, but it will not break its cover unless it sees a MacGuffin case.

  5. S-20 and S-30

    Both are locked and completely empty. Maybe someone was moving out?

  6. S-42

    From the outside, light shines through from the other side of translucent, frosted glass double doors.

    When the doors open, read this:

    When the doors open, the smoke dissipates and the sprinkler system slowly shuts off. A recorded feminine voice says, "Thank you for using Askkon fire suppression systems for your office needs". The group sees a large meeting room that recently suffered an explosion.

    The point of interest, the floor has a hole that goes down to the lower floor.

5.1.3 Basement Floor 1

Everything on this floor is empty, with the exception of the main lab.

  1. Map

    A
    Lifts
    B
    Lift Service shaft.
    C
    Utilities shaft.
    D
    Single occupant washrooms.
    E
    Office Suit 110, S-110
    F
    Office Suit 120, S-120
    G
    Office Suit 130, S-130
    H
    Laboratory Suit 142, S-142
    I
    Decontamination corridor for the lab
    J
    Closet storage for the lab
    Z
    Main hallway
    
          ##############################
          #Z......#I..#H...............#
          #.......#...#................#
          #.......+...#................#
          #.......+...#................#
          #.......#...#................#
          #.......#...#................#
          #..#######+##................#
          #..#G...#....................#
          #..+....#....................#
          #..#....#....................#
          #..######....................#
          #..#F...#....................#
          #..+....#....................#
          #..#....#....................#
          #..######....................#
          #..#E...#...................*#
          #..+....########++###++###++##
          #..#....#D.#D.#J...#J...#J...#
          #..######+###+################
          #.....................+A#B#C.#
          *.....................###.#..#
          #.....................+A#.#..#
          ##############################
          
          
  2. TODO S-142

    The players will find two hostile androids who have infiltrated the Askkon geological lab by blasting through the floor from above to steal trade secrets. They will avoid capture at any cost, even their own lives.

    Notes about the lab:

    • Obviously a lab
    • Room smells acidic
    • Chunks of rock/stone all over
    • DC 10 to ID the acid bath stations on the north side of the room.
    1. Closets J-a, J-b, J-c

      • J-a, farthest on the left, has the body of a winged woman with massive decay and a small, familiar looking briefcase
      • DC 15 find a comlink
      • DC 20 find a piece of m-paper

5.2 Chapter 2 Tracking Android Raiders

5.2.1 Arcology Docks

After sneaking out of the Askkon Inc part of the arcology, past the emergency workers, the most direct route takes the party out to the docks. There they will hear screams from mariners and engage three 3 meter tall heavily armed androids. After defending the docks outside the arc, one of the emergency workers, Aran Nanoq, offers to hire the party to track down the attackers.

Aran Nanoq is a male elf combat medic working for the Whittier Arcology Emergency Response Unit. He says the androids have attacked before. They come from the south. The only thing down there is an old US military base called Silvertower.

  1. Grendroid

    Stat Rating
    Size Large
    Being Android
    Align Chaotic Neutral
    AC 15
    HP 60
    Speed 6
    STR 16
    DEX 12
    CON 18
    INT 10
    WIS 10
    CHA 10
    Weapon Melee strike
    Limited Weapon Arm Cannon, 2d12
    Dead Switch Fall on enemy, 3d6

5.2.2 Whittier Region Map

This map not to scale.

A
Whittier Marine Arcology
B
Bounty Hunter Campsite
C
Cave train
D
Warehouse
E
Silvertower Radio Tower
F
Control Annex
G
Summit Trail
H
Base Trail
Y
Harold Street Pub (On Harbor Rd)
Z
Begich Towers

                          ##########
                          'A       '
                          #        #
                          #        #
                          #        #
                          #        #
                          #        #
                          #        #
                          #        #
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                          #        #
      ....................'        '..........
                #Y# ##.   #        #      .
                    ##.   #+######+#    .
                      ..................
                      .    .
                      .    .
                      .Z## .
                      ...............
      #############################B.
        .............................
      ##H#######''##;;;#G##;;;;;;;;;;
      ##.#######C ######;############
      ##.###########''##;############
        .          [D_]
        ..............
               .......
               E#....
               ##.F#.
      ########################################
      
      

5.2.3 Gary the Bounty Hunter

The PCs will optionally meet up with a group hunting down a burned corporate employee named Gavin. Gary, their leader, offers 1k credits per photo and says Gavin is very dangerous.

The group consists of a human (Gary), troll, orc, and two elves. All of them use nigh absolutely secure electronics thanks to various state-of-the-art faraday cages. All of them have magical powers of one kind or another.

5.2.4 Landslide

At this point the weather gets much colder. Anyone without cold weather clothing must Attempt a CON Save 10 to avoid a level of exhaustion.

Ahead the path has a landslide of mixed snow, trees, soil, and rocks. If the players want to continue along the main path, they will need to Attempt athletics or acrobatics to pass. If they fail, they fall and take 6d6 damage from the fall.

If the players search the area around the landslide they might find the hidden cave (below) or a way around the landslide to continue along the mountain path (below).

5.2.5 TODO Cave train

If the players search the area around the landslide they might find the hidden cave, which goes deep into the side of the mountain. Inside the cave, the players can avoid further exposure to the cold.

Deeper into the cave, a hidden, inclined rail track and car can take the party through the mountain to the Warehouse (below). The rail and car have been carefully cammoflagued to look like the rest of the inside of the cave, except for three protruding terminals on pedistals coming up from the floor. If the group has picked up the comlink from S-142, the terminal will speak aloud "Welcome Doctor Vance" before advancing the car.

5.2.6 Mountain path

If the players continue along the path either by climbing over or avoiding the landslide, they will find a survey microwave-size drone that seems to have lost all power. If they can reactivate it, they will notice the return-to-owner tag, a "Dr Castle" who works for Askkon Inc.

5.3 TODO Chapter 3 Silvertower

The Silvertower facility is a radio tower with a warehouse and control annex.

5.3.1 TODO Warehouse

Everything is rusted up or in bad shape.

5.3.2 TODO Radio Tower

If the PCs investigate the tower they will find it has a radar jamming device and a military grade cloaking device that visual hides the facility beyond the surrounding mountain ridges, making it nigh impossible for satellites to photograph it. These are the actual functions of the radio tower, aside from transceiving military signals. Nothing is salvageable.

5.3.3 Control Annex

The party finds a freezing male human named Gavin trying to use the radio tower. Gavin suffers from hypothermia and sits on the verge of death.

Gavin explains he had ventured into the facility to go "treasure hunting" but barely escaped with his life. But he won't tell them he's been hiding for more like weeks, not just a few days.

The door at the back of the annex leads to a stairwell that goes down underground. Gavin will explain he fought a very hostile android down there.

5.4 Chapter 4 Underground Silvertower

Underground Silvertower and United States both happen to share the same name of US.

5.4.1 TODO Map

This map not to scale.

A
Stairwell
B
Cave 2
C
The Workshop
D
Receiving
E
The Rec Area
F
Cubeland
G
Cave 7
H
Cave 8
Z
Control annex

      ###########      "                     ########################
      #Z........#      "                     #H........+..+G........#
      #.......###      "                     #.........####.........#
      #.......+>#      "                     #.........#  #.........#
      ###########      "                     ###########  #####+#####
                       "                                      #.#
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      #.........####.........####.........####.........#
      ###########  ###########  ###########  ###########
      
      

5.4.2 TODO Cave 1, Stairwell

Parts of a large, damaged android rest on the floor near the bottom of the stairs and the doorway.

5.4.3 TODO Cave 2

Another, more intact, but equally destroyed android lies on the floor. It looks like it's missing pieces, either it was not fully built or someone started salvaging parts after it was destroyed.

5.4.4 Cave 3, The Workshop

Two large androids are building more androids. One looks much larger than the other, which matches the Grendroid appearance.

  1. Mother Grendroid

    Stat Rating
    Size Large
    Being Android
    Align Chaotic Neutral
    AC 15
    HP 80
    Speed 8
    STR 16
    DEX 12
    CON 18
    INT 10
    WIS 14
    CHA 10
    Weapon Melee strike
    Limited Weapon Arm Cannon, 2d12
    Dead Switch Fall on enemy, 6d6

5.4.5 Cave 4, Receiving

Crates and boxes lie in huge stacks. The air feels significantly colder in this room. A freight lift leads back up to a hidden hatch on the surface, east of the tower and the annex.

5.4.6 TODO Cave 5, The Rec Area

This area has recreational furnishings for non-androids such as refrigerators and a kitchen. It also has a ping-pong table, three pinball machines, and couches.

The PCs should get the feeling that someone had recently been eating. In fact, Gavin had hid and eaten through the remaining food before escaping, but he will not volunteer this information.

5.4.7 Cave 6, Cubeland

See the map.

Assume the PCs enter from the south door:

The double doors gracefuly open to a hallway that goes both to the right and left. Each side wraps around to a large, open office suite full of computer workstations, with an inner wall on the west side of the room displaying an array of video displays and AR emitters. Each workstation has an android working busily.

The androids in this room are not completely sentient, though they are currently working to decrypt a copy of The Life of Mister Interesting. They are weak in battle, but their numbers will make them annoying. They will attempt to apprehend Gavin if they spot him.

Treat each android as a 2 HP, 10 AC, 10 Score/+0 Mods, speed 4, unarmed damage 1d4.

After the androids are "gone" Gavin will prompt the PCs:

I never made it past them into the next room, but that's definitely where the goods are kept.

Gavin will insist they continue on to Cave 7, but will not automatically volunteer any details other than "it has the treasure".

The door to Cave 7 is locked, but in rough shape. DC 10 to unlock, it is old and rusted. Health 5 AC 10 to knock it down.

5.4.8 Cave 7

See the map.

The room feels much larger than the others particularly because the ceiling goes up more than three times the height of the previous room. The middle has empty floor, but around the perimeter the room has tables and workbenches all around, covered in tools, papers, and various electronics, some in states of disassembly.

Gavin will walk to the table opposite the entrance, against the wall. The table has a holographic emitter that disguises desk drawers. Gavin will attempt to access those drawers to steal what looks like yet another MacGuffin. Once the case opens, he will absorb a mystical light that will transform him into a larger, bruttish looking reptilian beast. The holograms on the table will reveal the desk drawers, various clutter about the room, as well as heavily damaged walls, presumably from a previous battle with other androids. He will thank the group saying he could not have made it back in without them. Gavin will motion with his hands, and all of the doors in the complex will close and lock until he has been defeated.

After his defeat, but before his death, Gavin will explain that he accidentally activated the android facility while searching for the last MacGuffin, which grants temporary a draconic form. He admits to killing the Doctor Vance who was working for both Daifin and Askkon, and stealing her technology, namely the M-Paper, selling it back to the US military. He will attempt to take the case to his grave. But he never made it into the last room. Finally, he will curse them and die in a toxic, corrosive puddle that dissolves the case in front of the door back to Cave 6. The doors' locks will unlock with an obvious, loud series of clicks. The PCs can certain try to go back that way, but they risk poisoning themselves if they get too close. They had better try Cave 8.

  1. Gravgon

    Stat Rating
    Size Large
    Being Dragon
    Align Evil
    AC 15
    HP 60
    Speed 6
    STR 18
    DEX 14
    CON 18
    INT 18
    WIS 10
    CHA 12
    Weapon Melee strike
    Limited Weapon Fire breath x4, 2d10
    Dead Switch Fall on enemy, 3d6
    Corpse Toxic Blood
    Drops Comlink
    1. Toxic Blood

      Occupying the spaces that have this expose the player to make a DC 15 CON Save, else suffer one level of exhaustion due to a sickening feeling and take 1d10 acid damage. If they roll a 1 one of their exposed/equipped items starts to slowly disintegrate and become unusable (such as their boots or whatever they have in their hands). Personal protective equipment such as a hazmat suit will protect their other items, but the suit will be unwearable once they take it off later.

  2. Gavin's comlink

    Not effectively encrypted and easily cracked with a DC 10 arcana or investigation.

    [me] < I downed Tony's airship.

    [BC] > good

    [BC] > I'll have your payment ready

    [BC] > as soon as you make it out of there alive

5.4.9 Cave 8

The room has a mess of scientific lab supplies, electrical hardware, and filing cabinets. Close to the entrance, a desk has a paper airplane with a QR code it is actually a piece of m-paper that will transport the group back to the bathroom of the Fenris Pub inside the archology if they simply try to use it.

DC 14 to decrypt the message of the QR code. If they PCs have Vance's comlink, it will ring and the following message will play. Doctor Vance set it up to automatically play if any of her other clues such as the the M-Paper were reunited with her comlink.

Though Doctor Vance mentions more M-Paper, all of the others have either been destroyed or used by either Chief Tony or Gavin.

Tony,

If you're hearing, it probably means I'm gone. I suspect someone, probably at Askkon or maybe even Daifin, if I've been double crossed, has had me killed in order to steal secret of the M-Paper I was working on with Dr Gavin Castle. I wouldn't rule him out, either. Gavin kept calling the M-Paper the MacGuffins. Don't turn your back on him. If left you something… You might need it… a hidden case in my Post Office Dropbox to heal yourself, but be careful because the first time exposure will knock you out for at least an hour. I used a Goya Elite Briefcase… I figured they were obscure enough that you wouldn't have one also and accidentally open up the wrong case with your old cyber eyes. You really need to get those replaced!

If you happen to… find what's left of me, my comlink will probably be valuable to both the Cascadian and Alaskan governments. If for some reason you get stuck in Silvertower, I've left a few M-Paper airplanes about the place that will transport you back to the The Fenris Pub inside the arcology, not far from my PO Dropbox.

-Doctor Vance

5.4.10 Exiting the hard way

If the PCs decide to go back the long way, traversing the remains of Gavin, the androids will not give them any further trouble.

If they walk back along the trail or via the cave trail, they will eventually meet up with Gary and the other bounty hunters. If the party made a deal to supply intel, they can cash in. Either way, if they disclose the details about Gavin's transformation and/or death, Gary will offer a reward in exchange for an NDA.

5.5 TODO Chapter 5 The Fenris Pub

The pub gets its name from Fenrir the owner of Fenris Co-Op. It has anti-US and anti-Canada propaganda all over the walls mixed with flags all the subdivisions of Alaska and the many Cascadian flag variations. The pub looks timeless and stereotypical, something out of any decade of the 20th century.

Billy Ehm Gruff has once again made an ass of himself and become extremely drunk at the bar.

5.5.1 Leaving the Fenris Pub

Though deep inside the massive subarctic arcology, the artificial daylight and tropical plants make it appear like a different world. Holographic birds fly about, some of which might actually be disguised delivery drones.

5.5.2 Doctor Vance's APOD

The players might decide to investigate Doctor Vance's APOD for clues, which is just across the hallway, like a shopping mall of boutiques, from the Fenris Pub.

Alaskans and visitors all have a government-issued Alaskan Post Office Dropbox at their nearest known location. Residents call them "APODs" while most foreigners call them PO Boxes or similar. Alaska automatically moves a person's APOD and contents via drones to a new location if they check-in to another region. In Whittier, everyone has one inside the arcology, even folks who live outside. The Marine Arcology has several Post Offices, throughout.

The players can use the comlink from Doctor Vance to immediately find the correct APOD.

The comlink screen immediately lights up and displays an AR code with the option to connect device or use camera. After making the selection, the AR will highlight the APOD with the option to open or cancel.

Otherwise, the players can attempt to find the APOD by other means such as asking bystanders or APOD employees, reviewing surveilance footage, or calling in a favour from another NPC.

The APOD contains:

5.5.3 Aran Nanoq has a friend of a friend

The players will hopefully remember to turn in their information or check-in with Aran Nanoq. This can also turn into an oppurtunity to hook into the next adventure.