Plot Hooks

1. The characters have at least one skilled aviator or spaceship pilot among them, and they are hired to make an exploration or supply run of some sort into Storm Valley.

2. The characters must lead or accompany a ground convoy entering Storm Valley through a mountain pass, dealing with wildlife, storms, and avalanches (natural and artificial alike).

3. A VIP or the relative of one has gone down in his plane or spaceship over Storm Valley, and the characters are hired to get in there - by whatever means they can - find him, and get him out. Even if he's dead, it is preferred that his body be removed for a proper burial.

4. The characters are hired to retrieve a missing explorer, but what their employer really wants is a piece of high-tech gear, a bit of treasure, or a family heirloom that the missing man had with him. It is possible that the employer may have no legal right to the item; the missing man may have stolen it himself; the characters may find themselves accused on charges of dealing in stolen merchandise if they come out with it; and the employer may not tell the characters he is really after the item and not the man, if he constantly wears it or carries it concealed on his person. Both the missing man and the party's employer could be spies, military men, criminals, or aliens of some sort.

5. The characters are hired to skirt the mountain ranges surrounding Storm Valley in order to find a new trail leading in. Note that this could be part of a long-term adventure, with the party constantly searching for, and occasionally finding, new mountain paths leading in.

6. A machinist, whether a member of the party or an NPC, has developed a type of energy field which he hopes can be used to protect aircraft from the severe storms covering the valley. He wants to try it out, with the characters piloting. If he is wrong, then he (and the characters) will have to deal with a "crash landing and marooned in Storm Valley" scenario. If he succeeds, then everyone and his dog will be after him to steal his secret. When deciding whether or not the thing works, the GM must decide if he wants to run yet another "lost in the wilderness" adventure, or one filled with intrigue, and whether he wants to make it possible to eventually nullify Storm Valley's near-invincible defenses against flying machines.

7. Tired of slow and dangerous travel on the ground to enter Storm Valley, and realizing the extreme dangers of flying over the mountains to enter by air, an NPC with more imagination and resources than sense has come up with an intriguing alternative: Enter the valley by flying below the mountain tops. This entails much dodging of mountain peaks, making it impossible for any conventional airplane or rocket ship to accomplish this feat. Thus, the NPC's - and the party's - vehicle of choice is a helicopter, VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aircraft, dirigible, or free-flight balloon. (View the film version of Jules Verne's "Five Weeks in a Balloon" for ideas on the balloon concept.) Perhaps he even has access to an alien "flying saucer" type spaceship that can hover and move slowly in horizontal flight. There is still the danger of colliding with mountain peaks, and the GM must calculate the odds for himself after determining how fast the vehicle in question will be traveling.

The NPC will also make provisions for the crew (including the characters) to be equipped with long poles, which can be used to push their craft away from any mountains that air currents or pilot error cause them to approach too closely. If you can get a copy of the video version of the Vincent Price movie "Master of the World," based on the Jules Verne tale, there is a scene in the second half of the film that shows this contingency actually being put into effect. Even with these precautions, the characters will still have to put up with hazards such as high winds that can spring up from nowhere, getting lost (if they go through the Red Mountains, they will find that all that iron ore will screw up their compasses), boulders from above (dropped by storms, erosion, dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and human or alien agents), pterosaurs, and even dinosaur, human, or alien boarding parties if they get too close to a cliff conveniently situated to serve as a dropping-off point. The creature section below gives two dinosaur species that are particularly good candidates for opposition in any campaign among the mountains.

If the characters are forced down, the slow speed of their craft means there is an excellent chance the characters will survive to reach the ground more-or-less intact, in which case they must navigate Storm Valley on foot.

8. The Union decides that it will succeed in its plans only if it makes an all-out effort to link Storm Valley with the Main Valley.

Accordingly, a small army heavily staffed with engineers and demolition experts is detailed to construct a highway through the mountains, tunneling through any peaks that stand in the way. This work will, of course, be attacked and sabotaged by the Confederacy, the local wildlife, and possibly some alien races. Depending on the party's composition, the characters may be attempting either to help construct the highway or to block it.

9. The characters (or their employers) hear rumors of a hightech Union, Free Fleet, or alien ship crashing at a certain point in Storm Valley, and the party is sent out to salvage as much hightech equipment as they possibly can. If you don't want this to be "just another wilderness trek" where they only fight animals, then arrange for one or more other interested parties to find out about the wreck (including the ship's original owners).

10. The characters are sent to prospect in the deserts to the north to find the best places to sink oil wells, thereby providing their employer, be he Union or Confederate, with more than sufficient fuel to support any large-scale colonization and industrial programs in Storm Valley. Once there, they must contend with thirst, sunstroke, and the attentions of the wildlife of Storm Valley's deserts.

11. Similar to the previous hook, except that here, the exploration is being done by another outfit, and the party's employer sends the characters to spy on, and hopefully sabotage, their efforts.

12. The characters are sent to learn the secrets of that massive stone city in the eastern portion of Storm Valley and come back alive with the information.

13. Someone else was sent to learn the secrets of the aforementioned city, and now the characters must go in to find out what happened to him, rescuing him if at all possible, and preferably finishing his original mission as well.

14. The characters themselves are captured by the dinosaurs who rule the city, and must spend all their time between gladiatorial combats plotting a means of escape. Note that if there are any bronco riders or (preferably) wild ones in the party, they may communicate with the dinosaurs that are also held prisoner there and attempt a mass escape and/or a general uprising a la Spartacus.

15. With one or more wild ones among their ranks, the party must assemble an alliance from the various dinosaur families, herds, and packs in the eastern portion of Storm Valley to march on the therizinosaur city and put an end to it, or at least convince its rulers to leave everyone alone.

16. The characters, if they are Union military personnel, are transferred to Fort Phil Kearny, where they must spend their time struggling to survive against odds that grow worse with every passing day.

17. This scenario starts out like the previous one, save that this time, the characters find out in advance about both their impending transfer and the true conditions at Fort Phil Kearny. Thus, it starts out with role-playing and intrigue, as your players do everything they can to prevent their characters from being sacrificed in the hopeless struggle around the fort. This can range from pleading, to pulling strings if they have friends in high places, to breaking into headquarters and modifying the records so they get sent somewhere else or nowhere at all, all the way to desertion, in which case they will spend the rest of the campaign with a price on their heads. (Hey, it's still better than serving at Fort Phil Kearny.)

If they fail, and only then, they get sent to the fort. After that, it's the same as in the scenario above, save that they have the added disadvantage of a cloud over their heads due to their efforts to get out, which will not endear them to "Major Folly." In fact, since newly-arrived troops won't have had time to forge firm bonds with the older members of the garrison, he might just decide to send them out all the time - for example, making them permanent members of the daily water run.

18. The characters are not military personnel, but they get sent to the fort for some reason or other (perhaps as escorts for some civilian big shot, possibly even a member of the Cabal). Their pay depends on fighting their way through to the fort and then back again, both times with their charge in tow.

19. Once the characters arrive at Fort Phil Kearny (for any reason), one or more soldiers there who are desperately trying to escape attempt to persuade them to provide aid. It helps if at least one of the would-be deserters comes from a relatively privileged family, whether it's one with money, connections, or both. Perhaps one relative is a member of the Union's military-industrial complex, and could provide helpful characters with a limitless supply of top-grade Union military and other gear. Conversely, the soldier could be able to trade a valuable family keepsake (class, engagement, or wedding rings are good examples of this).

20. This one is like the last scenario, except that after - or during - the escape attempt, the characters learn that their buddy isn't so well-endowed as he claims, and in fact is flat-out lying to literally save his skin. This can lead to a long-lasting adventure in itself, as the characters chase him all over Cretasus, trying to get him to "pay up," one way or another.

21. The characters are Union military personnel who are not necessarily slated to serve as part of the garrison at Fort Phil Kearny, but must still lead or take part in a large-scale operation to reinforce or relieve it. This scenario has the potential for a pitched battle in the jungle between large numbers of Union troops and a mixed bag of the dinosaurs of Storm Valley, all together in their crude alliance.

22. The characters are either Confederate military personnel or mercenaries in Confederate pay. They are charged to do what they can to sabotage the Union's efforts to maintain Fort Phil Kearny, to the point of leading Confederate troops in an assault against the fort, possibly in conjunction with the local dinosaurs.

23. The party consists mostly or entirely of wild ones, who have come to Storm Valley on their own account to assist the dinosaurs in their struggle against the Union, possibly bringing in high-tech gear to aid in the fight.

24. Here the characters are Confederate emissaries, with one or more wild ones in tow, sent to deliberately forge an alliance between the Confederacy and the dinosaur clans besieging Fort

Phil Kearny.

25. This is the Alamo/Rorke's Drift scenario, depending on the outcome. The inevitable finally happens, and dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of dinosaurs converge upon the fort, possibly with alien or Confederate allies and equipment, to take part in the final assault. Remember that the fort is far too large to be properly defended by a garrison of 1000 men or (probably) less. Unless your players can pull a rabbit out of their hats, or if they're tired of their current characters or serving the Union, this gives everyone the opportunity to take part in a glorious last stand. Trying to prop up the gates as they stagger upon the repeated impacts of ceratopsians or giant sauropods; fighting off mass assaults on the walls with one hand tied behind their backs, as they suffer from - or at least keep watch for - pterosaur aerial assaults that take them from behind; dealing with pterosaurs as they drop into the fort, not merely log and boulder "bombs," but also smaller but still deadly dinosaurs; seeing giant sauropods deliberately stand up against the fortress walls and let large carnosaurs scramble over them to drop inside; dealing with a rapidly-shrinking supply of ammunition and fellow soldiers: this is the stuff of epics.

26. Union spies and/or saboteurs are sent into the Confederate-controlled zone to disrupt mining operations and the ongoing industrial buildup. Depending on their origins, the characters may be taking part in this operation or trying to foil it.

27. A pack of carnivorous dinosaurs - or one giant beast - has made a habit of attacking the convoys taking ore and supplies to and from the mining camps and industrial towns, and the characters must slay them or it. If the Union is somehow involved as well, they may find themselves with far more than they bargained for.

28. Miners have been making the rounds of the mining camps, claiming "There's gold in them thar hills!" - and in such abundance that it could turn a division's worth of men into millionaires. Whether this is true or not - the "miners" may be Union agents provocateur - the characters have to help the Confederate authorities keep their own miners on the job, instead of deserting en masse in the hope of becoming rich and disrupting the flow of iron and copper ore to the industrial towns.

29. When the miners make their announcement from the scenario above, the characters themselves take off for the hills to see if it's true. It may well be true, or it could be a Union ploy, a hoax, or something even more sinister. For example, the miners may have found enough gold for themselves to get rich on, but it is in territory controlled by one or more huge carnosaurs. After using a wild one or small dinosaur as a go-between during negotiations, the unethical miners struck a deal with the carnosaurs: If the latter will let them work in peace, they'll spread rumors that will bring other tasty humans flocking into the neighborhood in large numbers, more than sufficient to sate the dinosaurs' hunger.

30. Someone is attacking Union troops with poisoned arrows and making it look like the Confederate militias did it. The characters must find out who is responsible and stop it, before these incidents trigger a full-scale colonial war and assault on the Confederate zone. In this scenario, the villains may be intelligent dinosaurs, aliens, human criminals or other troublemakers, or even agents employed by the Cabal.

31. The leader of a caravan using Main Valley dinosaurs as pack animals and mounts has reported some unsettling news. On their last trip, they suffered an unprovoked attack by a Storm Valley dinosaur, possibly even a herbivore such as a sauropod or ceratopsian. Their attacker's skin was in constant motion from what seemed to be severe nervous convulsions, and it showed what seemed to be insane viciousness when it attacked. After that, the convoy's own dinosaurs, one by one, began showing similar symptoms and rebelling against their masters, even attacking one another. It is feared that this is caused by a disease indigenous to Storm Valley, but perfectly communicable to dinosaurs from the Main Valley: one that affects dinosaurs and reptiles in general as rabies affects mammals. If it spreads, particularly if the Union finds out about it, then Confederate efforts to use trained dinosaurs in the military and the general economy may be doomed to a bloody failure.

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