Operation: Sacred Steel Plot in Manifold Sky | World Anvil

Operation: Sacred Steel

A Short Manifold Sky Adventure for One to Four 3rd Level BCGR Characters

Alloy yourself with faith and become a bastion against destruction, that others may live by your example...
— An excerpt from Universal Artifice a foundational text of Forgism.
  The town of Cloverwall is a municipality still recovering from a rebellion. Relics of that rebellion and the utopian experiment that precipitated it still linger in the form of unique architecture, the suspicious gaze of locals turned on outsiders - and, most importantly for this story, the network of underground mines and bunkers that run deep beneath the surface. These abandoned halls sit mouldering and dissolving under the ministrations of acid mine pollution - the legacy of a once-proud infrastructure project spearheaded by the Commonwealth of C's premier dieseltech computer firm, Data Engines Limited.   Most folk of Cloverwall are all too keen to leave most of the bounty beneath their feet to decay as a painful reminder of what was once a bold - if ultimately hubristic - vision for the future. The same is not the case for others with an eye towards opportunities of a material, scientific, or even spiritual nature. Thus come strangers from the far-away land of Petalcap Vale: a Forgemaster and his retinue, verdial men seeking to retrieve a relic of defiance from the depths to further their artisan's devotion to the Forgist creator deity. He offers unique goods and services to any who would provide assistance in this most unusual of pilgrimages.   Will the party pass up this opportunity to forge bonds with the faithful and uncover new resources for Cloverwall? Or will they plumb the depths and prove worthy to wield... Sacred Steel?

Simplified Map of Cloverwall
Map by BCGR_Wurth.

Plot Hooks

For whatever reason, the party finds themselves at the start of this adventure in the town of Cloverwall in the Commonwealth of C. Scuttlebutt holds that a group of four verdials dressed in unusually organic-looking armor and bearing symbols of Forgism appeared in town a few weeks back and have been camping out nearby ever since. A character who succeeds on a General Knowledge or Craft roll against the leader recognize him as Lucas Yavri(see sidebar), an influential if eccentric Forgemaster associated with the Order of the Golden Forge.   There are several reasons that the party might have heard of these visitors around town and might wish to approach them:
  • Law: A few of Yavri's followers have been seen poking around the abandoned mine entrances around town at night. These places are dangerous for a variety of reasons and are thus closed to exploration by law. This group of outsiders is clearly looking for something, and it falls to the party to either scare them off, help them get what they're looking for, or otherwise persuade them to stop doing what they're doing.

  • Curiosity: A member of the party is a would-be Seeker of Misfortune or performer of the Dimension Dance and recognizes Yavri's pilgrimage as a similar sort of journey. They might seek advice from Yavri or even wish to join the pilgrimage themselves. This may provide a way for a party member to leave at the end of the adventure if a player wishes to change characters.

  • Special Items: Rumor holds that Forgemaster Yavri's 'Blessing of Armor' is, aside from being a religious ritual, a way for him to dispense unique and useful upgrades to armor, auto-armor, or other protective gear. The party may approach the pilgrims in the interest of striking a deal for upgrades that exceed the capabilities of those available in the open market.

  • Commerce: Foreign travelers to the Commonwealth are good for business because they bring unusual goods in and are often willing to trade for essentials. The craftsmanship of orthodox Forgists - let alone a recognized Forgemaster - is world-renowned. The fact that the people of Cloverwall have shown them little hospitality is shameful in light of the Commonwealth's values as an open society, but it also means the party's Face or Quartermaster has a unique opportunity to make a good impression on prospective trade partners where others have failed.

  • Structure


    Greetings, fellow travelers. Is it commerce or curiosity that motivates your visit this evening?
    — Forgemaster Yavri
      Forgemaster Yavri and his fellow Forgist pilgrims have encamped in the Great Drywood Forests just beyond the bounds of the Third Loop Commercial District. Yavri and his pilgrims constitute a merchant with a maximum purchase value of 1500 NGC, though they are among one of the few merchants willing to do direct trades (i.e. exchanging goods of similar value with NGC to make up any differences). They primarily stock armors (Flat/Precision/Skill Resistance bonuses only) and tools of any skills they can teach (see Resolution). They are also willing to repair or perform upgrades on tools and armor within these limitations, but crafting times and prices must be separately arranged. Most of the pilgrims only speak Valespeak and Guild Pidgin, meaning that a member of the party will have to know one of these language as well in order to converse with them. Yavri also knows Iuxat and Eliov because of his previous studies and is trusted by the others to translate. The Forgemaster is also the most gregarious of the group and is the most likely to greet the party and provide exposition.   Yavri or his followers are willing to openly discuss the following, among other topics:
  • They have chosen this location because, in addition to access to stream water - verdial physiology is more moisture-hungry than that of stock humanity - it helps prevent suspicious townsfolk from interfering in their spiritual work.

  • The pilgrims have undertaken a world-spanning journey as a sort of extended manuintimation practice. By working their trades for others, especially in the creation of protective equipment, they show their devotion to the higher good while also working towards emulating the Creator's perfect artifice. By travelling through environments that they view as harsh - for verdials, anywhere dry or hot - they strengthen their inner armor as much as they strengthen the armor they can create. The "Blessing of Armor" Yavri speaks of refers to a belief not to dissimilar to that of Knappism.
  • The group has been paying their way through the Manifold Sky by performing repair work, selling handicrafts and trade goods, and occasionally offering Yavri's consulting services as a veteran of the material sciences industry. Their pilgrimage involves working with culturally relevant raw materials from every major society in the hopes of gaining some deeper knowledge of the Creator's artifice and will. They have, however, become stuck in Coalition territory as a result of Voxelia's autumn offensive, with the Coalition Defense Forces suspending most outgoing air traffic. The group's next stop was among the Leather Jacket Nomads in the Eastern Tesseract, then onto Eudoxia to bargain for the right to work with sacred Eudoxium, but those plans have been put on hold for the forseeable future until the situation resolves.

  • Conflict

    If the party has decided to eject the pilgrims from Cloverwall (See Plot Hooks), then skip to the relevant part of the Resolution section.   Once the party has asked their questions and completed any business with the group, Forgemaster Yavri asks if they would be willing to undertake a quest for him:  
    You're probably wondering what brings us here, of all places, and not somewhere where we're more appreciated by the locals. There are more comfortable and profitable settlements, true, but that wouldn't serve our purposes. In truth, there is something special to Cloverwall - something forgotten beneath our feet, a relic of a time that most people here would much rather forget.   You see that commercial district over there? The green fields that form its center are undergirded with abandoned mine complexes, some of which were being studied for the creation of agri-mines before a rebellion against the government over a decade ago derailed those plans. There's material down there that dates back to the time of a rebellion against tyranny, abandoned just as it was prized from the bosom of the dry earth. Do you see? There's something spiritual about working with materials with a connection to such a turning point in history.   We've found a mine where we think you'll find just such a lode, but there's no way the locals are going to let us go in there and explore. We're not interested in taking the town's wealth - just a few chunks of iron ore from the old minehead will suffice for our devotions - but none of these humans will believe that our intentions are pure. Will you help us?
      If the party accepts the mission then Yavri gives the party the location of the mine and offers a blessing for their quest (positive Influence 6/2), If more persuasion is required, Forgemaster Yavri explains that his work before taking on his religious vocation centered around producing enhanced cellulomold - a resilient biomaterial that is unique to Petalcap Vale - and that he is willing to enhance the party's equipment with it. He is also willing to offer special training if these upgrades don't interest them. See the Resolution section for complete details.

    Rising Action

    Georg's Folly is an abandoned mining complex built into a pre-existing volcanic cavern system. Originally a tourist draw as a natural feature, it was not considered dangerous in its heyday, but has been cordoned off because several people have disappeared into it in recent years. The loss of connection with the old municipal autonet means that the pumps that once stopped acidic runoff from accumulating have long since ceased to function, making exploration for ore or lost spelunkers more expensive to undertake than simple abandonment. Luckily for a well-prepared adventuring party, the cordon is not stringently enforced; a sign on the half-crushed chain link fencing that surrounds the entrance warns visitors that they go forward at their own risk.   About a hundred feet beyond the entrance, the cavern forks. The right-hand path continues over relatively flat terrain and seems the most well-trod, eventually leading to the remains of a half-completed agri-mine control center. The left-hand path goes down a gentle grade and features a walking surface that becomes increasingly wet and slick as one goes. This latter path circles around the control center, passing through several shallow depressions that have since become pools of acidic mine water, before eventually reaching the decommissioned mine lift - and the prize Yavri and his pilgrims were after.  
    Abandoned Agri-Mine
    Map by BCGR_Wurth.

    Right-Hand Path: Agri-Mine Control Center

    The control center is a series of vaulted chambers connected by corridors. The place is surprisingly well-lit with hanging work lights, a fact which may make the party suspicious that it has seen recent maintenance or occupation despite its supposedly abandoned nature. The walls here are heavy masonry (hardness 3) and all doors are steel (hardness 3) with small windows at eye level; these windows are meshed over and only around 1' square, making them impossible for most to squeeze through should they be broken. Barrels of stale water, crates of seeds and fertilizer, and other clumps of unfamiliar agricultural equipment are littered throughout, providing some degree of cover in a fight (hardness 3) but mostly proving worthless as salvage unless the party is actually interested in starting an agri-mine operation.   As the control center was converted to an agri-mine, its defenses were improved with the implementation of rotating hallway sections that can be controlled from the same panels as the pumps in the surrounding caverns (see below). These rotating sections are large, thickly-walled, and air-tight; in certain configurations, the agri-mine becomes a sealed environment nearly impossible to blast one's way into. The autonet overrides that once allowed the sections to be rotated individually have corroded over time, meaning that they can now only all be simultaneously rotated one step clockwise or counterclockwise at a time.   As mentioned above, three control panels arranged throughout the facility control both the rotary hall sections and the scavenging pumps in the surrounding caverns. Again, the autonet connections controlling this aspect of the mine's operations have suffered greatly with the passage of time. Each panel can only toggle two of the surrounding pumps (see map) and, when a given pump is toggled, so are the two across from it in rotation. For example, toggling Pump 1, which can only be done from Panel A, also causes Pumps 3 and 4 to toggle.   Each of the three control panels features a display board that indicated via dials (rotary sections) and needle gauges (pumps) the state of all controllable environmental elements in the complex. A successful Manipulate Mechanism, Diagnose, or Control roll (minimum 15) allows a panel operator to ascertain the conditions governing these interactive elements as laid out above, though it does not provide an outright solution to the puzzle of how to get all the pumps operating simultaneously.   Importantly the 'abandoned' agri-mine is actually occupied on a rotating basis by a group of three wildcat miners (see sidebar). These men had uncovered rumors that precious metals, including potentially gold and silver, were discovered in the mine just before circumstances on the surface forced it to close. The activities of the Forgist pilgims have both enhanced their belief in these rumors while also making the men desperate to reach the veins before the outsiders or others get there first and stake a claim. While these wildcatters are ambitious and greedy - perhaps even willing to kill for the promise of riches - they have not yet figured out how to get past the pollution in the surrounding caverns.   When the party arrives, one of the wildcatters will be watching the entryway via the secret observation passage (see map) while another continues to tinker with Panel B in the hopes of somehow reactivating the pumps; the third is around two miles away in the local Burning Hearts pub, drinking after a long day of gathering mining supplies and listening for rumors of other abandoned claims in the region. The party discovering the hidden observation slot (Search 15) may cause them to discover the watching wildcatter prematurely. This observer will seek to remain out of sight while the party explores, barring the door to the hidden observation passage so that the party believes it is inaccessible if he has not already been discovered (see above). He taps on a pipe once the party gets deeper into the complex to alert his fellow at Panel B that visitors not of their group have arrived.   When alerted, the wildcatter at Panel B attempts to make contact with the party by calling out for help, ideally reaching them before the doorway leading into the occupied barracks and hydroponics bay (see map). When encountered, he presents himself as a wayward urban explorer looking for a friend that got lost deeper in the mine.  
    Hey, help! Have you seen my friend Bud? Tall, buff guy with a thick black beard, maybe with a film camera and a big flashlight? He said he was going to try and get a shot of the old mine lifts for the local papers, but after he got past the pools out there somehow, I think he must've gotten stuck somewhere down there. I'm not so good a climber that I can skirt the water safely, but you seem like the capable sort. Please, you have to help him!
      In truth, this wildcatter is trying to prevent the party from figuring out that they have been living here and also giving the other wildcatter time to make his way out of the mine to get their third compatriate. The party can make a Social Awareness roll opposed by this wildcatter's Bluff to ascertain that this story doesn't add up; he isn't dressed like an explorer so much as some sort of workman, and observant party members might see that the wildcatter deflects whenever the party tries to get past him into the barracks or asks why they were exploring the mines in the first place. The wildcatter is willing to explain the panels and broadly what they do, but is more interested in convincing the party to solve the puzzle for him. Should the party appear weak, get into the barracks, or clearly not be convinced by the man's story, he attacks to eliminate the interlopers and buy his partners more time to assemble outside the mine for an ambush (see Climax). If believed, he does agree to follow the party to help "search" for his "friend," but does whatever is required to deflect the party from any course of action that might give up the deception or otherwise stray from the route into the mine.  

    Left-hand Path: Polluted Caverns & Mine Head

    The caverns spiraling down towards the abandoned mine head are slick and damp, with rivulets of acidified ground water cutting deep gouges into the cavern floor. Sprinting or even making more than a single move action in a given round within the caverns or in the mine head chamber requires a low Footwork roll (minimum 5), with failure indicating that the runner slips and falls prone. The walls are dense, reddish stone (hardness 3) with some small quartz veins here and there.   There are five depressions along the length of the cavern that fill chest-high with rust-red, acidic water if not constantly pumped dry. Each depression is full at the outset of this adventure, as the wildcatters (see above) have not yet figured out how to get all the pumps in operating condition simultaneously. Wading or swimming through this water deals two die of damage each round as an environmental effect (see Endurance in the BCGR ruleset for details). Worse, because the sulfurous vapors of these pools flows downhill towards the minehead, those travelling beyond a filled pool risk taking one die of damage per a number of minutes equal to the visitor's Endurance as a result of severe eye and lung irritation; effects that provide resistance to Poison also apply to one's ability score for the purpose of resisting this effect. Thus, while it is barely feasible to search for Yavri's prize without solving the puzzle, this would be a painful and damaging experience and is strongly discouraged. Activating a pump also activates hanging safety lights in the corresponding chamber, though the remainder of the cavern remains cast in tenebrous darkness.


    The ultimate goal of the wildcatters is to keep the supposed riches of this otherwise unvisited mining complex to themselves. To this end, they coordinate in an attempt to lure any visitors - the party included - deeper into the complex so that they can be ambushed, killed, and disposed of such that no one will ever find the evidence. After the puzzle of the mine is solved - whether by activating all the pumps or by otherwise bypassing the several hazards presented by the pools - but before the party reaches the mine head, the fleeing observer retrieves the wildcatter at the bar and the pair make their way back to the mines. These two follow the party from a relatively safe distance, using the curvature of the cavern to keep out of sight if at all possible.   The following wildcatters come upon the party just as they arrive at the mine head. If the one that called out to the party (see Rising Action) is still with the party, he 'plays dumb' and acts like its a surprise that his fellows have 'betrayed' him somehow. This is a ruse to help him get away from the party while the others prepare to blast them with grenades or bury them to their knees with the blasting caps scattered throughout the floor of the chamber, but this also gives the party the opportunity to attempt various gambits - intimidation, negotiation, and so forth - to talk their way out of the situation. The wildcatters are reticent to just let the party leave, as they expect the party to be seeking the same valuables as them or to let slip to other would-be claim jumpers that there's a lode to be had. The men could be cowed by superior firepower, bribed, convinced that the party won't let on about their operations, or disuaded by other arguments at the Game Master's discretion. The party may also attempt to fight their way out if all else fails.

    Falling Action

    At the mine head, the party sees that the walls do indeed have streaks of an unusual blue-green color. A character with the Applied Sciences or Sculpt skills (minimum roll of 10) recognize this as possibly being silver ore. Yavri's prize, however, lies among the overturned ore carts near the back of the chamber next to the long-decommissioned mine elevator leading into the original mine's darkened depths: large, rich chunks of black iron ore shot through with pyrite crystals. The pilgrims are uninterested by the silver - and, indeed, encourage the party to 'give back to the town' if offered it - but the party may take three days to prize around 2000 NCG from the veins in the mine head chamber.


    If the party opted to help the pilgrims retrieve the raw materials from the mine, Yavri is happy to offer his more advanced crafting and upgrade services. Yavri can reinforce armor, protective clothing or auto-armor with specially-formulated cellulomold plates. This polymer-like organic material has an elastic quality to it and has limited ability to seal up after damage. This grants a suit of auto-armor one instance of the Hardness Creature Feature; personal armor or protective clothing also grants the wearer this Creature Feature as long as it is worn. Yavri is willing to install this upgrade on up to item per party member.   Alternatively, if the party is uninterested in equipment, the pilgrims can offer each party member Special Training (see Ahead of the Curve: BCGR and the Manifold Sky Setting) in Assemble, Craft, Applied Science, Hold Ground, or Presence (individual player's choice). Because this particular group of pilgrims' spiritual journey is themed around personal fortitude - achieving the "Blessing of Armor" - they offer knowledge relating to resisting the troubles of the world and building equipment that can do the same.   On the off chance that the party elects to eject the pilgrims from Cloverwall, the pilgrims will defend themselves but prefer to leave with their baggage in lieu of standing and fighting; there's a limit to the amount of trouble they are interested in causing for their hosts. If chased off or defeated in battle, the party can take their equipment but will be unable to make use of any of Yavri's special cellulomold they find and will not be able to upgrade any of their equipment marked as being made with cellulomold. This is because not only will the enhanced durability make cutting into it near-impossible, but no self-respecting verdial armorer will assist a party known for attacking a respected Forgemaster in installing mods. A violent confrontation with the pilgrims could also spell trouble for the party should subsequent adventures take the party into Vale territories, such as encounters with avenging Warrenside Rangers.


  • Folded Hands: Reject the pilgrims and force them to stop investigating the mines.
  • Burnt Offerings: Recover the materials for Yavri.
  • Libations: Drain all five acid pools as the same time.
  • Narrow is the Path: Find your way to the materials without draining the acid.
  • With Open Eyes: Detect the wildcatters' deception before they can use it to their advantage.

  • Forgism by BCGR_Wurth
    Related Characters
    Related Organizations
    Related Locations
    Forgemaster Lucas Yavri (21 xp)
    by Hero Forge
    S: 2 | D: 1 | E: 4 | I: 3 | P: 1 | C: 2 | T: 2
    HP: 84 | PD: 1 (7/4) | TD: 2
    MA: 2 (5) | RA: 1 (5)
    Skills: Craft 2 (9/4), Applied Science 1 (9/2), Reinforce 1 (8/2), Transmute 1 (7/2), Influence 0 (6/2)*, Presence 0 (6/2), Assemble 0 (7/0), Break 0 (7/0)
    *starts with an Influence pool of 6/2
    CF: Species Traits (+E/-D), Verdial Traits, Special Training (Craft 1, Presence 1, Influence 1), (Hardness 1)
    Syn: E I

  • Cellulomold Laminate Armor: Physical Defense armor (D/E), hardness 4, flat +2, precision +4, Creature Feature (Hardness 1)
  • Forgemaster's Shop Journal: Tool, hardness 3, Applied Science +2/+1
  • Cellulomold Sculpting Tools: Tool, hardness 3, Craft +2/+1
  • Resin Injector: Tool, hardness 2, Reinforce +2/+1(non-living only)
  • Anointing Ashes: Tool, hardness 2, Influence +2/+1 (within five spaces only)
  • Hierloom Hammer: Melee weapon (S/I), hardness 3, Assemble +2/+1, Break +2/+1
  • Modified Tarantula: Ranged weapon (D/T), hardness 2, sweep 2, Transmute +1/+1, Tech Conduction (x1)
  • Spare Magazine (x1)
  • Verdial Sunscreen (x2): Consumable, Transmute 4/1 (Resist X/dessication as environmental hazard)
  • Forgist Pennant: Tool, Hardness 2, Presence +2/+1

  • Description
    This middle-aged verdial man is wearing a set of laminated plate mail made of some sort of yellowish, resin-hardened organic material - anachronistic if not for the appearance of pock marks where bullets failed to penetrate. The symbol of the Forgist church - a stylized anvil - is burnt into the armor's breastplate. The man carries a hammer and the ground around him is strewn with other tools, some of which are completely unfamiliar to you. His pale skin and blue symbiote fronds are smudged with soot.
    Forgemaster Yavri is not affraid to stand his ground, but prefers to talk things out rather than engaging in violence. If forced, he alternates between bolstering the resolve of his allies and using his modified GF-1 "Tarantula" Assault Needler to apply Transmute (reduce Hardness) to opponents' equipment.

    Forgist Pilgrim (16 xp)
    by Hero Forge
    S: 3 | D: 1 | E: 4 | I: 2 | P: 1 | C: 1 | T: 1
    HP: 64 | PD: 1 (5/2) | TD: 1
    MA: 3 (5) | RA: 1 (5)
    Skills: Craft 1 (8/2), Assemble 1 (6/2), Break 1 (6/2), Presence 0 (4/1), Hold Ground 0 (4/1)
    *starts with an Influence pool of 6/2
    CF: Species Traits (+E/-D), Verdial Traits, Special Training (Presence 1, Hold Ground 1), (Hardness 1)
    Syn: I

  • Cellulomold Boilerplate: Physical Defense armor (D/E), hardness 3, precision +2 Creature Feature (Hardness 1)
  • Artisan Tools: Tool, hardness 3, Craft +2/+1
  • Craftsman's Hammer: Melee weapon (S/I), hardness 3, Assemble +1/1, Break +1/1
  • Sawed-Off Grease Gun: Ranged weapon (D/E), hardness 2, sweep 2
  • Spare Magazine (x1)
  • Forgist Pennant: Tool, Hardness 2, Presence +2/+1
  • Verdial Sunscreen (x2): Consumable, Transmute 4/1 (Resist X/dessication as environmental hazard)

  • Description
    This verdial man or woman is dressed in a simple robe over which a blacksmith's or woodworker's apron is draped - the traditional garb of a Forgist vocation. A boilerplate comprised of some sort of plasticized organic material and embossed with the Forgist anvil sigil is riveted to the apron, perhaps providing some degree of defense against blows and flying debris.
    Like Forgemaster Yavri, the pilgrims are most likely to try and talk things through with opponents rather than fighting them outright. Should fighting be inevitable, they focus on eliminating Tech users and collectively focus on single opponents to reduce the threat as quickly as possible. They often break equipment if doing so will degrade the offensive potential of an opponent and perhaps force an end to combat early.

    Wildcatter(16 xp)
    by Hero Forge
    S: 3 | D: 1 | E: 2 | I: 1 | P: 1 | C: 2 | T: 2
    HP: 32 | PD: 1 (3) | TD: 2 (5)
    MA: 3 (4) | RA: 1 (4)
    Skills: Blast 2 (7/3), Break 1 (6/2), Sculpt 1 (7/2)
    CF: Special Training (Applied Science 1, Bluff 1)
    Syn: S I

  • Big Knife: Melee weapon (S/D), hardness 3, dual purpose (D/S)
  • Surplus Grenade Launcher: Tool, hardness 2, Blast +2/+1
  • Mining Pick: Melee weapon (S/I), hardness 3, two-handed, Break +2/+1
  • Mining Gear: Physical Defense armor (D/E), hardness 2, resist 2/polluted environmental condition, resist 2/posion
  • Blast Shield: Tech Defense shield (T/S), hardness 3
  • Detonator: Tool, hardness 2, Sculpt +2/+1 (within a mine only)

  • Description
    This burly man is mostly concealed beneath obviously second-hand mining gear. He carries a short breach-loading grenade launcher from the last decade in one hand and some sort of blast shield in the other. A mining pick is slung across his back, its worn point nevertheless sharp and gleaming in the sepia glow of the mine lamps. A detonator at his belt tells you that there may be blasting caps set somewhere in the area.
    A wildcatter prefers to fight from a distance, using Sculpt to take chunks out of the mine floor to impede opponents before peppering them with grenades. If forced into melee, the wildcatter drops his shield and swings with his pickaxe, either attacking directly for damage or attempting to break any useful items the opponent might be carrying. The man's greed is only counterbalanced by his unwillingness to die for the mine's booty; a player with a high enough Bluff or Intimidate can shift this balance and cause the wildcatter to quit the field once he has lost at least half his hit points.

    Cover image: by Pascal Garten


    Please Login in order to comment!
    23 Apr, 2023 22:15

    I love the detail that you have invested in this adventure and the maps are fantastic and super useful.