The Legion of Gold’s raids seem random, but the forays have a purpose: capturing new conscripts and destroying the defenses of the Barony of Horn. Many of the legionaries are captives taken in prior raids, now enslaved by a rogue AI installation known as NERO (Near-Earth Reconnaissance and Observation). Computer hardware is inserted into a “volunteer’s” brain to give NERO full control over the individual, and then the new servant is surgically fitted with golden armor and weapon systems. Humanoid robots known as centurions super vise the enslaved cyborg warriors.
NERO is a lunar facility originally built to defend the Moon. After decades of sleep, a moonquake recently reactivated it. The AI studied its surroundings (Moon Zone 9), determined that “aliens” had overrun the Moon, and tried to nuke everything—only to discover that it could not do so. The command to fire had to come from Gamma Terra, but no one still alive on the planet had the ability to give the necessary launch codes. Thus, NERO assigned itself a new mission: reestablish a government on Gamma Terra. To carry out this plan, the AI intends to sweep away the “alien invaders” that have occupied Gamma Terra and conscript a citizen militia to serve as its army. Once a new government is in place and proper elections can be held, NERO will run for office and become its own command authority, at which point it will order itself to push the button. This plan makes perfect sense to NERO, probably because the AI’s processors have degraded a bit over time—maybe more than a bit.
Of course, NERO is in a command bunker on the Moon, which makes it tricky to operate on Gamma Terra. Fortunately for the AI, it has access to a net work of old lunar operations support bases, including the LUCAS Laboratory. These teleportation facilities scattered around both Gamma Terra and the Moon allow NERO’s golden soldiers to launch raids and seemingly disappear at will. So far, the plan is going well, and the AI has turned its attention to designing campaign buttons. NERO for President—it’s the only logical choice!
Here are a few ways the heroes might become involved in the plot.
The Baron’s Service: As mercenaries who have earned a reputation, the adventurers are hired by the Baron Warder and given a simple mission: Find out what’s causing the attacks and put a stop to it.
Kidnapped Kin: One of the characters has family in the Barony of Horn. The chosen character learns that his or her relative is one of the people carried off by Legion marauders. The character comes to Horn to mount a rescue attempt.
Cryptic Mission: A cryptic alliance has found Ancient records that reveal the existence of a teleportation network near the Barony of Horn. One of the characters who is a member of that alliance receives orders to find the network and map its nodes. The adventurers travel to Horn to search for clues to the location of the LUCAS lab, only to find that the barony is under attack. The fact that the golden marauders come and go mysteriously suggests that they might have found the teleportation network.
Caught in the Shooting: The characters are passing through the Barony of Horn on business of their own when they are caught in a Legion attack. Clearly, fighting off the raiders is a job for a group of seasoned adventurers.
Running the Adventure
Regardless of how or why the characters end up in the Barony of Horn, the adventure begins when they find themselves in the next town to be attacked: the settlement of Burl. The adventure is linear—the heroes can’t deal with NERO until they reach the Moon, and they can’t travel to the Moon until they track the legionaries to the LUCAS lab. To reflect this sequence of events, the adventure is organized into four parts:
Part 1: The Barony of Horn. The characters fight off Legion attacks and track the raiders to the LUCAS lab—their base on Gamma Terra.
Part 2: The LUCAS Lab.
Part 3: Moon Zone 9.
Part 4: NERO.
Meet the Baron
This first encounter of the adventure assumes that the characters are wandering mercenaries. If you use a different adventure hook, adjust the read-aloud text. For example, the Baron Warder might call in the adventurers to inform them of the abduction of a relative.