The Corrupted Sanctuary - A numenera time loop adventure
Long ago, a civilization whose name has been forgotten mastered time itself. They used this power to spread their influence across the galaxy, but now only a few remnants of their influence remains. In one corner of our solar system, they built a paradise in the stars that was able to let people who came there live the same beautiful day over and over, and perhaps even did more when it was fully functioning. From a distance, it looks like a crystalline castle carved into a floating asteroid, with a grand tower in the middle.
Sometime ago, how long should be difficult to tell, a Stellar Weaver came across this place and found itself the perfect place to feast. It can kill new prey everyday and live like this for eternity. Almost all the guests, except for Renard, can only remember the last few deaths. The station is set on a day-night cycle, so that as the station slowly gets darker, the Stellar Weaver comes out from its tower.
Renard: Butler and servant of sanctuary. Human in appearance, though he carries himself in such a way that seems inherently alien. He is dressed in fine black clothes and has perfect posture. He wakes up everyday to make the food, and the poison, for the whole group. He is the only person who retains memory from every death. It has left him slightly disturbed over time and obsessed about the passage of lights.
A skeane engineer who will be able to repair your ship.
A young looking Aeon Priest. For those who have high enough lore knowledge, they may notice that, despite his age, he is wearing a style of robes the Aeon Priests have not worn in centuries. He is actually at least two hundred years old but has been stuck here for an untold amount of time.
Any other characters that fit the into the night setting. Conceivably, creatures from every planet could have ended up here. This could be a good way of introducing the PC’s to the larger universe.
How to get the players involved?
This adventure would work with any group that is running into the night and has access to a spaceship. I had their ship become damaged first and then they received a message from the sanctuary that welcomed all. They then arrived seeking help to repair the ship. It could also be easily modified to be set on some remote part of the ninth world somewhere, remote enough to still have the sense of isolation when things start to go wrong.
Docking bay area that the players originally land at. There should be other ships here, also docked and silent that the players can explore.
Entrance hall: The first room they encounter in the sanctuary looks like a peaceful meadow, above it there is a translucent ceiling that allows them to see the stars. And there is a small creek that trickles thru the meadow.
Dining hall: A beautiful room with a circular table in the middle. Great feasts are served here everyday. This is also where the guests gather. There are guest rooms that lead off from the dining hall. Very likely, the sanctuary is much larger, and all manner of rooms of comfort and luxury can be found there. But the most important doors are the ones that lead to the tower and the basement.
Basement: Behind a level 6 locked door, there is a small stairway that leads to a basement. Unlike all the other rooms that the PC’s have encountered, this should be utilitarian in nature, as this area was designed solely to keep the technology that keeps the sanctuary running and not part of the luxury. At the center of the room below, there is a pit, and in the middle of the pit a console to access the controls to manage the station. There may have been a way of accessing that console easily in the past with a crosswalk, but that appears to be broken. PC’s can access it by flying over (if they have that ability), or climbing across on chains (three speed rolls of difficulty 5 each, failure results in falling and dying). At the console itself, the PC’s can roll to see if they figure out how the console works. A level 6 roll will let them control the lights and doors. It should take at least level 9 or 10 for them to understand how to control the time loop itself. The console may also give them other knowledge of the station.
Tower: Leading up to the tower is a circular staircase. The Stellar Weaver has weaved webs that the PC’s will have to avoid (see the notes for the Stellar Weaver in the Into the night book). At the top of the tower, the Stellar Weaver sleeps during the day, as it is terrified of the light. Confronting the Stellar Weaver here should be a very difficult task.
After the players first arrive, they will be met by Renard in the entrance hall. He should be friendly and kind and invite them to dine with him and his guests. Renard readily agrees to help to repair their ship as well. The dinner is delicious and filling, but if anyone drinks the wine served with it they will realize they were poisoned. If the PC’s refuse, the hosts will try and kill them in another painless way like an injection device. If, at that point when they realize they are going to die, ask their hosts why the hosts will say “It is better this way.”
After all the PC’s are dead, they will awake again at the same moment that their ship landed on the sanctuary. The time loop begins now in how they want to investigate it. Renard and the other guests will offer some clues. All of the guests will be terrified of the tower that leads to the Stellar Weaver, but few will give an explanation beyond that. The guests will not actively try and kill the players anymore, though will tell the players that it is pointless to resist their fate.
If the PC’s try and leave on the ship, they have to pass thru a tunnel to get back out into space. The lights in that tunnel are currently off. The Stellar Weaver will attack and destroy any ship that tries and leave.
The PC’s may eventually learn about the Stellar Weaver’s phobio for light (it shouldn’t be apparent right away). If so that could give them the tools needed to set a trap for it.
How did it go for me?
This adventure was a great opportunity for me to give my group a challenge that they couldn’t solve with direct violence. Any attempt they made to fight the Stellar Weaver directly quickly lead to their deaths, and that made them think creatively.
At first, when the PC’s arrived they didn’t realize anything was amiss. I had the ship get damaged and they all agreed to land here. At the first night, all but one of them agreed to drink the wine that lead to their death. One PC, a jack named Elendre, tried to refuse but was then killed by an injection behind her ear.
At their reincarnation, they were all upset and initially tried to fight Renard and the guests. But quickly gave up when they realized none of them would fight back. After some questioning, Renard explained that he only killed them because it is better to die painlessly than await the monster that comes each night. They all tried to go into the tower then to confront the monster. Two of them were trapped in the Stellar Weaver’s webs and died like that. The last three confronted the Stellar Weaver above and were killed by it.
The next day they tried to set a trap for the Stellar Weaver in the main hall. It killed them again. But it was here one of the PC’s noticed the Stellar Weaver was terrified of light.
The next day they split up, two of them went to investigate the tower, two of them questioned guests, and one went to the basement. The person in the basement died on his first attempt, but on the day after he was able to access the console.The PC’s came up with a plan: they would turn on all the lights in the sanctuary and isolate the stellar weaver in its tower. Then they went back into the nightcraft, and they used the night crafts weapons to destroy the tower and fling the Stellar Weaver off into the abyss of space. Afterwards, they talked with the guests, some of which decided to stay and others left.Overall, I thought it was a really fun adventure. You could probably add in some other details to make certain parts more difficult. Like for example I probably should have had some sort of defense drone in the basement to make it harder to access the console that controls the station. You also could make the guests more active or interesting. Hopefully this is good inspiration for your own time loop adventure!