Saturday, August 4, 2018

Numenera Adventure: X'actori


X'actori is an ever-changing, hovering scrapyard that perpetually scours the Ninth World for cypher technology that it can integrate into itself.  This impossible looking structure rises over a mile into the sky and can move at unlikely high speeds. It generally progresses at only a few miles-per-hour, sucking up anything that is likely to contain cyphers or artifacts.

Physically, X'actori is is an ever-evolving entity built completely of a cypher/synth/metal alloy.  Massive antennae designed for cypher-detection jut out at every angle and enormous automated cranes dot the towering, machine-landscape.

Any part of the Ninth World that is visited by X'actori is left scarred; tech-heavy areas are left utterly devastated.  X'actori has been known to park above a city for weeks or months slowly tearing it apart. When this happens X'actori will grow in size significantly.   However, this is a rare event because many cities can mount a decent defense. Usually, the floating scrapyard will be found scouring barren terrain.  But in the Ninth World, no terrain is truly barren.

It is rumored that X'actori is not the only one of it's kind...

Hooks For Exploring X'actori 

  • As the PCs travel, they see X'actori from miles away.  As they get closer they see pieces of useless scrap littered about...along with some unconscious people.  When questioned, the people eventually realize that any cyphers or artifacts they possessed are gone.  They have vague memories of machine-like beings.
  • A friend or alley (or stranger) has gone missing.  It doesn't take long to notice the colossal structure hovering in the distance. 
  • X'actori is approaching the PC's home town or a town they happen to be in.  It will arrive in 1d6 days. 
  • The PCs come across X'actori hovering over a city, slowly tearing it apart (Rare.)
  • The PCs are already well aware of X'actori's existence and simply want to raid it for cyphers. 

Entering X'actori

The most direct route inside X'actori is to let oneself get sucked up through the mile long center-tube beneath the structure. This tube is almost 100 feet (30 meters) wide. Only people or things carrying cyphers/artifacts will be brought up.  If the PCs haven't figured this out, a difficulty 3 Intellect (Numenera) test will give them the knowledge.  While travelling through the tube the PCs are fairly immobile.  Trying to take any action or use any device requires a difficulty 6 Might test.  Tube traffic varies according to the cypher-richness of an area.  There will be people and objects floating up to and down from X'actori.  Some of the people will not be conscious.

It takes roughly 20 minutes to be transported up to the surface of the scrapyard; 10 minutes if the PC possesses an artifact.  Once at the top, the PCs will land on one of many enormous conveyor belts containing bits of scrap and potentially other people. The belt ultimately leads to an X'aminer.  The conveyor belts are patrolled by guards and scouts but sneaking off is certainly possible.

Once the PCs reach an X'aminer, it will demand that they hand over all cyphers and artifacts -- it knows exactly how many they have.  If they refuse to hand over any items, the X'aminer will proceed to take them by force (see X'aminer below.)  Once the PCs are removed of their cyphers (whether they are conscious or unconscious) they will be placed on another belt, sent back to the tube and returned to the ground below.  Anything placed in the tube not possessing cyphers will float harmlessly down.  It is impossible to float down the tube while possessing cyphers or artifacts, so PCs will have to get creative in escaping.  Occasionally, a person will not be returned to the Ninth World below, as they are taken into the inner workings of X'actori to be lobotomized and turned into a mindless cyborg.  This is not common and the reasons for it are unknown.

It's also possible to try to enter X'actori from the outside by flying to the top. This is the hard way.  Any attempt to land on one of the smaller structures jutting out from the center-tube will be met with resistance from 1d6+6 guards with 1d6 more guards arriving every 5 rounds so long as combat continues.  Trying to land anywhere on top of X'actori will be met by 2d6+6 guards with 1d6 more guards arriving every 5 rounds so long as combat continues.

A Fraction of X'actori

Exploring  X'actori

Once the PCs are on a conveyor belt in X'actori they should witness a couple of things.  First, some strange soul up ahead of them should refuse to hand over their cyphers and after a very brief struggle with an X'aminer, the stranger is rendered unconscious via giant syringe and sent on their way.  The PCs won't know if this person is alive or dead.  Second, another person further on down the belt panics and attempts to escape.  This causes a huge commotion, drawing scouts and guards to the scene.  The panicked person is eventually blasted by the guards and couriers put the body back on the conveyor belt.  During this event all perception rolls by the X'actarians are 2 steps more difficult (or you could say that PC stealth attempts are 2 steps easier) giving the PCs a solid chance of sneaking off to explore X'actori for cyphers and/or to find a missing person.

X'actori is multi-leveled and close to a mile in diameter.  It's like an amalgamation of dozens upon dozens of factories and scrapyards.  Machinery abounds, construction is perpetual, the landscape is ever-changing, and scrap is everywhere.  Anyone trained in the Numenera should automatically know that this is the richest deposit of cyphers and artifacts that they have ever seen.

Once the PCs are off and exploring, roll on the following table to see which type of area they encounter.  All areas are searchable for cyphers unless stated otherwise.

Location Area Descriptions

1.  A large crevasse between to giant mechanical structures.  Several massive turbines lean against the walls.  The scrap is so thick here that movement actions on the ground are 2 steps more difficult.  Mandatory encounter with a X'actorian Quantum Peddler.

2.  An industrial stairwell that becomes impassible three levels down due to the amount of scrap.  Hiding at the bottom are 1d6+2 cyborgs in various states of mental stability.  One or two of them is sentient enough to ask the PCs to help them escape.

3.  The massive shell of what was once a flying structure.  A windrider artifact (Numenera, pg. 313) is found on a cypher search result of 18-20.

4.  A tangled web of cables and chains as far as the eye can see.  All physical actions here are 2 steps harder and stealth is impossible.  Roll a random encounter when the PCs are searching and wish them luck.

5.  An area full of conveyor belts returning useless scrap to the center-tube to be dumped, but the PCs won't realize it right away.  Searching here is 3 steps harder.

6.  A large platform where automated cranes are sorting scrap.

7.  A colossal crane that has toppled on it's side and partially hangs over the edge of X'actori.  Even if this is the first location rolled, the PCs have somehow found the edge.

8.  A collection of steam towers and smoke stacks with stairs wrapping around them and catwalks between them.  Scouts will absolutely notice the PCs if they spend more than 1 hour here.

9.  Here a very long conveyor belt runs down into the belly of X'actori.  Near the end of  the belt is an unconscious child who will disappear from view in 5 rounds.  3 guards patrol along the belt.  The belt has Health: 9 and Armor: 2.  Hits on the belt are automatic, but rolling is still as option.  The PCs start out Long distance from the child.  Riding the belt down into X'actori is a tight squeeze that leads to a mechanical laboratory occupied by 4 X'aminers.

10.  A foundry where some cyphers are being melted down and mixed with synth.  Currently active, searching is 1 step harder.

11.  Machine graveyard full of X'actorian machines waiting to be recycled.  Search results of 17-20 reveal the wreckage of an X'aminer that contains an artifact.

12.  A network of huge pipes that can be walked though.  Some are clogged with scrap and need to be crawled through.

13.  Towering, unstable piles of engines.  A Speed:4 test must be made while searching to avoid falling and taking 4 damage.

14.  A general scrap area with very large cypher-magnets hanging 100 feet (30 meters) overhead.  Any cyphers found here get pulled up to a magnet if the PCs fail a Might: 6 test to hold on, for each cypher they've found.

15.  A cluttered, sub-surface area that hums strangely.  There is a quantum disturbance here causing any cyphers that the PCs possess to immediately change into a different cypher.  PCs must re-roll their cyphers.  You can do this one of two ways:  1.  The PCs' cyphers begin to vibrate wildly which informs the PCs that something is up.  2.  Don't tell them their cyphers have changed until they attempt to use one.   There are zero new cyphers to be found here.  This disturbance does not affect artifacts.  Great place to insert a quantum peddler.

16.  This entire area is a gargantuan conveyor belt full of scrap heading toward a compacter. Searching is 2 steps harder due to the constant concern of being flattened.

17.  A massive net full of scrap that is stretched out over the side of X'actori.  Actions are 2 steps harder due to terrible footing.  1d6 guards appear every extra hour spent here.

18.  Sky-lifts are here that will transport the PCs to any area they have already been to.  There are no cyphers here.  Gm Intrusion:  A scout will follow.

19.  Gears of all sizes churn through a sea of scrap.  It's loud but unguarded, so searching is 1 step easier here.

20.  Have something of your own prepared for this slot, or improvise, or roll again.

Every hour spent searching an area gives each PC a roll to find cyphers.  Assuming the PCs are trying to be quiet, the search roll is a difficulty 5 Intellect roll (4 for those trained in Numenera). If they aren't concerned with stealth, the rolls are 4 and 3 respectively and a random encounter is rolled  (the encounter takes place after their search rolls).  If the PC succeeds at their search roll they will find 1d6 cyphers.  If they roll a 20 on their search roll they find an artifact instead.  The search difficulty level increases by 1 per-hour spent searching the same area if at least one of the PCs found a cypher.  Eventually, the PCs will want to move on to a new area for easier searching.  This movement triggers a random encounter roll.

*Every time the PCs move from one area to another a random encounter is rolled.*
*Keep in mind the dangers of carrying too many cyphers.*

X'actori is perpetually changing do it's constructive nature.  Areas are huge in scope regardless of their description.  Once the PCs have left the central-tube area, or any other area, they are automatically 1d6 areas away from returning there.  If the PCs decide they want to get to the edge of X'actori they are 1d6 areas away from getting there as well.  Basically, once the PCs are in X'actori, they're in for awhile.

Random Encounters (See X'actorians below for behavior details.)

1-3.  A scout has taken notice.

4.  If the PCs are looking for someone, they just found them.  Otherwise roll again.

5-6.  The PCs are offered a cypher trade by a quantum peddler.

7-8.  The PCs encounter a cyborg.

9.  Another group of people (1d6+1) hunting for cyphers.  Treat all as level 2.  Gm intrusion: They are hostile.

10-11.  Busted. 1d6 guards come after them.

12-14.  There are 2d6+6 couriers working in this area.  Searching is 1 step harder.

15.  The PCs have moved through some sort of radiation field.  Roll for cypher danger as if the PCs are 3 over their limit (Numenera, pg. 279.)

16.  The PCs stumble right into an X'aminer.

17-20.  No encounter.

Escaping X'actori

Outside of some strange cypher or artifact technology (such as teleportation) there are really only two ways off of X'actori.  One:  The PCs have to find their way back to the center-tube, ditch all cyphers and artifacts, and simply step into the tube and they will descend harmlessly to the Ninth World below.  The Other:  The PCs have to make their way to the edge of X'actori and get VERY creative.  There's no sugar-coating this escape route.  Hopefully, they will possess some cyphers or artifacts that can help get them to the ground below.  There is no standard, preordained escape route off the edge.  Sit back and watch the PCs brainstorm a plan of escape.  They could always try to get back to the center-tube...

At either location, the PCs will almost certainly be spotted by a scout.  At that point, the clock will be ticking on their plan of action.


X'actori is populated by automatons of various size and intellect, all of which are purposed for the collection and integration of cyphers and artifacts. Listed below are just a sampling of these machines and the roles they serve.  Sometimes X'actorians are encountered exploring outside of X'actori.  Such raiding/search expeditions will consist of 1 X'aminer, 4 Guards, 2 Scouts, and 1d6+6 Couriers.

X'actorian Courier:  2 (6)

Couriers are general labor units focused only their task at hand which is usually the transfer and clean up of scrap.  Their exhaust looks like liquid ink but harmlessly evaporates within a few moments. They do not communicate with people.

Motive:  General labor unit.
Environment:  X'actori.
Health:  6
Damage Inflicted:  2 points
Armor:  2
Movement:  Short
Modifications:  Defends as level 3 do to ink-like exhaust fumes clouding vision.
Combat:  A courier attacks with a grappling claw or an electrical zap at short distance.
Interaction:  Couriers do not communicate with PCs and will do everything they can to go about their business of clearing areas and transporting scrap.  A courier will only fight if their task is being obstructed and will return to work as soon as possible.  If a courier is attacked, every round 1d6 couriers will come to its aid.
Use:  Th PCs see 2d6 couriers carrying a load of scrap that is sure to contain plenty of cyphers.
Loot:  1 cypher.
GM Intrusion:  A wayward courier has detected and become transfixed with obtaining a particular cypher from a PC and will stop at nothing to obtain it.  The commotion draws 1d6 couriers to it's aid every round.

X'actorian Courier

X'actorian Quantum Peddler:  3 (9)

Quantum Peddlers are X'actorian outlaws.  They lurk in the shadows and crevasses of machinary to avoid the notice of X'aminers who will destroy them on sight.  They can communicate with people but their words are constantly interrupted by clicks and beeps.  Peddlers are demented machines warped by an unknown source of quantum energy.  

Motive: The illegal trade of cyphers.
Environment:  X'actori.
Health:  12
Damage Inflicted: 3 points
Armor:  3
Movement:  Short
Modifications:  Attacks as level 5 and does 4 damage when enraged.
Combat:  Peddlers attack by swinging their magnetic claws at their targets.  They can also latch on to someone with one of their tentacles and try to strangle them while clinging to walls with at least one  other tentacle.  To strangle, Peddlers make an grapple attack without doing damage.  Once strangled, the victim can escape with a difficulty 5 Might roll.  The victim takes 3 Might damage per round while strangled, ignoring armor unless they have some sort of head/neck protection.  The peddler can still attack while strangling someone because they only need on tentacle to cling to a surface.
Interaction: Communicating with a Quantum Peddler is like talking to a paranoid lunatic.
Use:   The peddler crawls out of a crevasse and offers a chance for a PC to unload an unwanted cypher for a better one.  The main part of it's body opens up to reveal a bizarre quantum-scape.  The PC sets their cypher inside, the doors close and re-open to reveal a new randomly determined cypher for the PC to take.  That's the trade, and the first trade is always fair.  Any further trades with the peddler have unpredictable results. Roll 1d20 and consult the chart below:

1-3.  The peddler accepts the cypher then steals away with it without making a trade.
4-7.  The peddler is so enraged by the offering that it violently attacks the PC with intent to kill.
8-10.  The peddler returns the same cypher.
11-13.  Instead of offering a new cypher, the peddler offers 2 randomly determined oddities.
14-16.  The peddler offers 1d6 x 10 Shins.
17-18.  The peddler is so delighted with the trade that they offer a Cypher-Scope* artifact.
19-20.  The peddler is so delighted with the trade that they offer a Cypher-Sat* artifact.
*See below for new artifacts.

Loot:  None, a destroyed peddler collapses into the quantum realm.
GM Intrusion:  An X'aminer and two Guards appear to break up the transaction.

X'actorian Quantum Peddler

X'actorian Guard:  4 (12)

X'actorian guards are the main security force of X'actori.  They are subservient to X'aminers and will stop at nothing to maintain order all over the floating scrapyard.

Motive:  To keep order in X'actori.
Environment:  X'actori.
Health:  12
Damage Inflicted:  4 points
Armor: 3
Movement:  Long
Modifications:  Highly mobile and defends as level 5.
Combat:  Guards keep a safe hovering distance and prefer to "herd" their targets to where-ever they're supposed to be.  They are highly mobile and have a vertical laser-swivel blaster that gives them many angles of fire including from directly above.  If they're targets do not obey their commands, guards will open fire until submission or death.  Guards can spend a round blurring their own location with their ink-like exhaust causing attacks against them to be made at 1 rank higher difficulty. Each guard also has a one-use paralysis spray at short distance.  Any PC hit by this spray has to make a difficulty 4 Might roll or become paralyzed for 1d6 rounds.
Interaction:  Guards communicate in basic terms like "Drop the cypher", "Move along", and  "Surrender to X'actori."
Use:  Any time a commotion breaks out in X'actori, 2 guards appear in 1d6 rounds, with 2 more appearing 1d6 rounds after that, and so on.
Loot:  1 cypher.
GM Intrusion:  When a guard is destroyed it explodes doing 5 damage to all nearby.

X'actorian Guard

X'actorian Scout:  2 (6)

Scouts are curious spies that are always on the lookout for threats to X'actorian order.

Motive:  To spy for and gather information for guards and X'aminers.
Environment:  X'actori.
Health:  6
Damage Inflicted:  2 points
Armor:  2
Movement:  Long
Modifications:  Perception at level 5.
Combat:  Scouts almost never enter combat and they are protected by an electromagnetic field that shocks anyone touching them for 2 points of damage (ignoring armor.) 
Interaction:  Scouts will only communicate with their superiors.  Everything else is simply observed.
Use:  Scouts are constantly recording and sending encoded signals to their superiors.  Every round that they are watching the PCs, there is an escalating 1 in 6 chance ( 2 in 6 the next round, then 3 in 6, etc.) that a pair of  X'actorian guards will appear.
Loot:  1 cypher.
GM Intrusion:  Just when the PCs think they've gotten away with something, they notice a(nother) scout hovering in the distance recording their every move.

X'actorian Scout

X'actorian X'aminer:  6 (18)

X'aminers are purposed with examining and processing everything that is collected by X'actori as it scours the Ninth World for cypher technology.  They possess a ruthless, immovable will to do their duty and will destroy anything they view as a threat to their consolidation of cyphers.  They answer to a superior power that resides in the inner machinery of X'actori.

Motive:  To make sure that all cyphers and artifacts are identified, processed, and properly assimilated into the structure called X'actori.
Environment:  X'actori.
Health: 24
Damage Inflicted: 6 points
Armor:  4
Movement:  Short
Modifications:  None.
Combat:  An X'aminer can attack with each of it's 4 tentacles on it's turn.  Their claws strike for 6 points of damage or can be used as a grappling attack (difficulty 6 Might roll to escape, +2 difficulty to all actions while grappled.)  One tentacle has a cypher-magnet that can be used rip cyphers off a PC and can hold up to 6 cyphers or 1 artifact at a time.  X'aminers don't have to be able to see the cyphers to take them.  The last tentacle is a large syringe that can inject a sleeping medicine into a target that renders them unconscious for 1d6 x 10 minutes.  Resisting this medicine is a difficulty 6 Might test. If an X'aminer feels that it is endanger of being destroyed, it will spend it's turn emitting an ear-piercing siren which stuns for 1 round anyone who fails a difficulty 6 Might test.  1d6+1 guards will appear 2 rounds later in response to the siren.
Interaction:  X'aminers are among the most independent of the X'actorians, or at least they appear to be.  Their speech is droid-like, yet intelligent and self-aware.  X'aminers look down upon humans and other organic Ninth-Worlders, but they don't automatically view them all as a threat.  These large, tentacled machines believe that anyone or anything that possesses a cypher is obligated to hand it over.  Refusal to do so will be met with force, lethal if necessary.
Use:  X'aminers are stationed at various places all over X'actori including the conveyor belts that shuttle all the scrap (and people) collected by X'actori as it wanders the Ninth World.
Loot:  1d6 cyphers or 1 artifact.
GM Intrusion:  The X'aminer grabs a PCs weapon and shatters it to bits.

X'actorian X'aminer

X'actorian Cyborg, Typical  3 (9)

X'actorian Cyborgs are living beings, mostly humans, that have been mechanized by X'actorians for a purpose that is yet unclear.  Their minds have been mostly wiped and their bodies are transformed, sometimes radically, such as losing limbs. The synthsteel on their bodies is laced with cypher-tech so their only escape from X'actori would be to throw themselves off--which occasionally happens.  They are used for a variety of tasks ranging from rough labor to things inexplicably random.  It seems that they are some sort of experiment...

Motive:  Unclear.
Environment:  X'actori.
Health:  9
Damage Inflicted:  4 points
Armor:  3
Movement:  Short
Modifications:  Defend as level 5 against mind affecting attacks.
Combat:  Some cyborgs seem better coordinated than others.  Either way, their attacks consist of brutal slams with their armored fists or lashes with loose cables.
Interaction:  When a cyborg speaks they do so with a synthesized voice.  Their movements are awkward and mechanized.  Not all cyborgs are at the same level of cognition.  Roll 1d6 to see what state the cyborg is in..

1.  The cyborg doesn't fully realize what it's become.  It thinks that it's just "wearing" a radical cypher that it found.  If the PCs insist on pointing out what's actually happened to it, the cyborg suffers a catastrophic mental meltdown which attracts the attention of a pair of guards.
2-3.  The cyborg is completely mindless and drooling.  It just wanders aimlessly.
4.  The cyborg senses some commonality with the PCs and will not stop following them.  But it doesn't speak at all.
5.  The cyborg is a full blown X'actarian and assaults the PCs on sight.
6.  The cyborg is hiding and implores the PCs to help it escape.

Use:  Seemingly random.
Loot:  None.
GM Intrusion:  The cyborg "plugs" into the PC's temple doing 4 Intellect damage and stunning them for 1d6 rounds.

X'actorian Cyborg

Size Comparison

*New Artifacts


Level: 1d6
Form:  A thin wand-like device about one foot long.
Effect:  A cypher-scope helps to maxmize your results when searching for cyphers.  Add the cypher-scope's level to the result of any roll to find cyphers and to the roll determining the number of cyphers found.  This counts as one use.
Depletion:  1 in 1d20


Level: 1d6+4
Form:  A synthsteel satellite roughly 6 inches in diameter that hovers near the user's head.  Comes in various shapes; no two are alike.  Bonding with a cypher-sat is a difficulty 6 Intellect (Numenera) roll and each attempt takes 1d6 x 10 minutes.  A person can only bond with one cypher-sat at a time.  Absorbing a cypher into a cypher-sat takes approximately 10 minutes after which the original cypher becomes useless scrap.  When a cypher-sat is depleted the user suffers 4 Intellect damage due to feedback.  Feedback can also occur via GM intrusion.
Effect:  Varies per model:

  • Alpha:  Absorbs the essence of one cypher allowing the user to employ that cypher's effects a number of times equal to the cypher-sat's level.  Every attempted use counts against depletion.
  • Beta:  Absorbs the essence of a number of cyphers equal to the cypher-sat's level, essentially allowing the user to possess more cyphers than their cypher limit.  Each use counts against depletion.
Depletion:  1 in 1d20

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