The Obsidian Monolith Campaign for Numenera 07 - Exploring the Obsidian Monolith

In the final chapter of the campaign, the PCs explore the Obsidian Monolith itself. This final chapter is designed such that it can either be the end of your campaign, or a launching off point for a whole new story. You can learn more about this adventure in episode 21 of the Game Master's Journey podcast.

Articles in This Series

01 - The Town of Bonespir
02 - The Windmill in the Woods
03 - Law & Order in Charmonde
04 - Heroes of Bonespir
05 - The Machine of the Emols
06 - The Town of Delirium
07 - Exploring the Obsidian Monolith

Companion Episodes of Game Master's Journey

OM 01 - Preparing for an Adventure
OM 02 - Laying the Foundation for your Campaign
OM 03 - Location, Location, Location
OM 04 - Prepping and Running a Numenera Session
OM 05 - The Town of Bonespir
OM 06 - The Windmill in the Woods
OM 07 - Connecting Adventures Together
OM 08 - The Village of the Culovas
OM 09 - The Machine of the Emols
OM 10 - The Conclusion of the Campaign

Actual Play (Audio)

Session 01 Part 1 - The Town of Bonespir
Session 01 Part 2 - The Windmill in the Woods
Session 01 Part 3 - Inside the Windmill
Session 02 Part 1 - The Swarm from Hell
Session 02 Part 2 - Numenera Hunters
Session 03 Part 1 - The Order of Tianma
Session 03 Part 2 - Bugbusters
Session 04 Part 1 - The Man They Called Zain
Session 04 Part 2 - Madame Saydle's Wondrous Soup

Actual Play (Video)

The YouTube playlist includes the first session and sessions 8-12.

Approaching the Obsidian Monolith

Massive electromagnetic storms, gravity anomalies and temporal anomalies surround the Obsidian Monolith, making approaching it difficult and terrifying. Gravity may shift, becoming more or less, or may disappear altogether. PCs could be struck by lightning as a GM Intrusion. The PCs may shift back and forth between different time periods. In my game the PCs shifted from the present to a time when the Monolith was surrounded by ocean (luckily they were flying).

Once the PCs get close to the Monolith, they discover it is surrounded by Plasmars (The Ninth World Bestiary page 98). These may or may not be hostile depending on GM preference and how the PCs react to them. The plasmars feed on the energy of the storms around the Obsidian Monolith.

Entering the Obsidian Monolith

The entrance to the Monolith is at the very top. The Monolith floats 500 feet in the air and is 2000 feet tall, so flight will be required. To open the hatch, a PC must use telepathy with the interface to solve a puzzle. The solution involves representing the Seven Sky Gods constellation (what we know as the pleiades) in the hologram that floats above the interface when it's activated. While the telepath maintains the arrangement of the "stars" in the hologram, a second PC must use telekinesis to float a conductive object (like a dagger) into the symbol of the correct star that corresponds with the home system of the Obsidian Monolith's creators. If someone instead positions the conducting object by hand, she must immediately make a difficulty 10 might defense roll. On a success she takes 10 ambient might damage (ignores armor) and 10 ambient intellect damage. On a failure, she also goes one step down the damage track and gains a weakness in intellect and a random harmful mutation. 

Once the above is completed, the portal opens. 

Exploring the Obsidian Monolith

The Obsidian Monolith is a strange place. The different chambers have variable gravity, so down is in different directions depending what room you're in. Some chambers have lower gravity than Earth, and some have higher gravity. Some of the chambers are filled with water. All the halls have 8 walls (including floor and ceiling) instead of 4. The chambers are eight sided. Some of the chambers seem far too large to be contained within the Monolith, yet somehow they are. 

When the PCs enter, they hear a voice speaking in a strange language. The voice continues talking as they explore. After some time, an intellect roll will reveal that the voice is speaking numerous different languages, all of which are unintelligible to the PCs. 

The control surfaces look very similar to the ones encountered in the Windmill, and they use the same fractal language. PCs who learned the language will be able to use that knowledge here. Many of the interfaces require telepathy to use, which involves manipulating holographic fractal shapes that float in the air above the interface.

There are no dangers in the Monolith--no monsters, no security systems. However there are many technological wonders that the PCs can explore. The Monolith also serves as a museum of Eilodon culture, art, history and technology. 

Eventually the voice that has been speaking while the PCs explore speaks in the Truth. This happens when the GM deems appropriate, after the PCs have had a chance to explore to their hearts' content. The voice has been trying to communicate with the PCs using all the known languages of the ancient galactic society. Once it has tried all the languages it knows, it monitors the PCs' conversations and learns their language (the Truth). The voice is that of the artificial intelligence of the Monolith itself. 

The AI is not insane. I don't believe a machine intelligence could go insane, and even if it is possible, it's a horrible cliche. However, the AI is lonely as it has been millennia since it has had someone to talk to. The AI is happy to converse with the PCs and answer questions.

The PCs can learn from the AI that the Obsidian Monolith is a vessel of sorts, able to travel through time and space. It was built by a race called the Eilodon, who are very similar to Earth octopi. They are from a star in the pleiades constellation. The monolith was put on Earth in a time when Earth was part of a galactic civilization. A great civilization arose in each of the star systems of the pleiades constellation, and each one placed a monolith on Earth. The arrangement of the monoliths was such so that on a specific day of a specific year, each monolith pointed to its parent star in the night sky.

The Amber Monolith and Obelisk of the Water God are not actually a "true monoliths". The true monoliths in those positions left long ago, and later Earth civilizations built the Amber Monolith  and the Obelisk of the Water God as copies to take the place of the ancient and familiar landmarks.

The Obsidian Monolith has a powerful control of spacetime, and might be a little too dangerous to fall into the hands of the Order of Truth. The AI wishes to return to the Eilodon homeworld, but requires the PCs to use a manual override so it can leave its position on Earth.

As a bargaining chip, the AI tells the PCs that an armada of alien ships is enroute to Earth's system. These are the ships of a species from beyond our galaxy that were ancient enemies of the great galactic civilization Earth was part of. Back in the day, it was believed they'd been defeated and destroyed, but obviously not. It's safe to assume their goal is the utter destruction of Earth.

Earth, of course, is not undefended. There is a field of nanites strewn through the entire system. They are capable of destroying any invading force, but they have gone inactive after millennia of disuse. The Obsidian Monolith can reactivate the nano-field, and will do so if the characters free it. The characters might theorize that the Order knew of this somehow, and that's why they wanted inside the Monolith, or they just wanted power. Who knows?

If the PCs free the AI, they then have a lot of options. They could go on about their lives, or they could accompany the monolith to the Eilodon homeworld.

I originally planned to end the campaign on the Eilodon homeworld, which is an oceanic planet. Unfortunately, the Eilodon are gone, leaving behind only the ruins of their great underwater cities and technology. It's unclear if they went extinct or left for elsewhere, and the Obsidian Monolith has no idea. The Monolith would want to search for its creators, and the PCs would have the option of going with it (it would like the company after millions of years alone) and exploring the galaxy.

This can be the end of the campaign, or the beginning of a whole new chapter.