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Project Sunbird

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Project Sunbird
An adventure for 3-6 players of level(s) 1-3. Estimated Playtime: 4-8 hours
Settings
Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Category
Sandbox
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Linear
Combat-Focused
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Roleplaying-Focused


Brief Description

The player characters have been hired to investigate and disrupt a secret project being run by the evil empire. All they know is that shipments of materials are being sent into the tiny hunting settlement of Kynall, where there is no known industry but an unusually large military presence. They must find out where the shipments are going, and steal or destroy whatever secret project these materials are being used for. Project Sunbird is written for a soft science-fiction setting, but can easily be adapted to other settings involving an evil empire simply by swapping any technology for setting appropriate technology or magic.

The GM is expected to provide their own battle maps for combat encounters, and should be ready to say yes to the players’ plans which may not be covered below. Begin with the Arrival event, then use other events if or when the players pursue them.

Background

NPCs

Commander Vatari Vance

Head of the local garrison. A middle-aged man with graying, close-cropped hair and a face covered in laughter lines. He wears a neat but sweat-stained officer’s uniform. Very friendly and eager to please. Extremely trusting and glad to have visitors to his little settlement, it will take a lot of evidence for him to turn on the party. For the “Ear of the Emperor” perk, he could be the debtor.

Staff Sergeant Escara Cass

Runs the command office front desk by herself. An older woman, probably past normal retirement age, with frizzy white hair. She is polite, but always tired and will try to wrap up any business to get back to napping.

Iris Nunes

The engineer at the spaceport, and the smugglers’ contact for getting illegal goods onto ships under the imperials’ noses. Thin, slouched, pale, tired eyes, wears oily coveralls and a toolbelt. She manages the ships and cargo at the public port, and moonlights maintaining machinery in the settlement for extra cash. If a player character has the “fugitive” perk then she is their local contact as a member of the local smuggling ring.

Skeev Blackmoor

Owner of the general store, ringleader of the local smugglers. A small, greasy man who is always wearing heavy black clothes despite the heat and humidity. Within the confines of his cloak are many questionably legal goods. Constantly and relentlessly trying to make deals, both monetary and for favors.

Jennica Treboh

Bartender at the Cat-bite. Strong arms always visible (she hates sleeves) and a square jaw that frames a subtle smirk. She’s seen a lot, and knows a lot about what’s going on. Keeps to herself, uses few words where possible but is always happy to listen. Always stays within arms reach of her axe.

Doctor Mako Lindemann

Doctor at the garrison. Young, keen, intelligent and curious about many subjects, loyal to the empire but prioritises his patients over his orders. He wears clean surgical scrubs most of the time. If a player character has the “scholar” perk then he is the most likely contact in Kynall.

Zhin Kalvari

Hunter (and smuggler of cat beasts), brother to Shae. Tough, leathery skin, hard eyes. Strongly suspicious of outsiders.

Shae Kalvari

Hunter (and smuggler of cat beasts), sister to Zhin. Quick, wiry, piercing eyes. Cautious, but can quickly get a good read on people.

Enemies

This adventure uses the Encounter Difficulty setting to determine what NPCs are involved in encounters. Events will state what enemies and allies are involved and whether they should be Easy, Moderate, or Hard. For easy encounters, the total enemy level should be approximately half the total level of player characters and allies. For moderate, each side’s level should be approximately equal. For hard, enemy level should be approximately double the ally level. Remember that three minions are worth the same as a normal NPC of the same level, and a Boss is worth four times its level. Feel free to adjust the difficulty if your group is more or less combat focused, or having a particularly hard or easy time.

The Empire

The Forest

Miscellaneous

  • Lvl 2 Mercenary
  • Lvl 1 Minion Robot
    • Agility 4, Might 3
    • HP 4, Guard 15, Toughness 15, Resolve 12

Locations

Kynall

A large clearing cut into the Westreach forest on the west coast of the continent. It is home to only a hundred or so civilians but more than forty imperial soldiers and officers. Moss and vines cover every wall, and weeds sprout from every crack in the ground. Its main industries are hunting and fishing, and services to support the hunters, fishers and soldiers. A small river cuts the settlement in two, crossed here and there by small bridges and feeding into pumps that provide the town’s fresh water.

Communication in and out is difficult due to the remote location, and short range communication is made less reliable by the high metal content of the trees.

Spaceport

The local spaceport lies on the coast, close to the centre-west of the settlement. It has two discrete sections: the public platform which is a semi-closed area where the players arrive, and the imperial port which is surrounded by high walls.

The public platform is rundown and employs a couple of dockhands to shift cargo, who are loosely managed by Iris Nunes. It is where the ship the party arrived on is parked. The ship is either owned or rented by the party. It is their accomodation for the duration of their stay in Kynall, and contains bunks and a small kitchen but limited cargo space. It is not very maneuverable in the atmosphere, or heavily armed or armored; if they attempt to use it to approach the factory they should be warned that they will almost definitely be shot down.

The Imperial port is the focal points of most of the patrols, and is where Commander Vatari Vance has his office, where the main satellite uplink to the rest of the empire is located. It has few windows apart from the office, and a large set of garage doors where cargo vehicles come and go at seemingly random times. Inside is a large warehouse that opens onto the landing platform, which is also encircled by high walls.

Garrison

The soldiers here are unprofessional and bored, having mostly been sent to Kynall as punishment after messing up somewhere else. The only thing that breaks their boredom is the occasional cat beast attack, so they spend most of their time at the bar, playing cards or making very slow and irregular patrols. Approximately a dozen soldiers are on duty at any one time - supplemented by a few heavy soldiers and officers - with another dozen sleeping and a third group on break. Patrol groups consist of an easy encounter of soldiers, heavy soldiers and occasionally an officer.

The garrison itself is a long, thin, one story building on the south of the clearing. It mostly consists of bunkrooms and armor lockers. Mako Lindemann’s medical bay is attached to the east end of the building; it is well equipped considering the remoteness of the settlement, and Mako can be convinced to sell the party Medical Supplies with a CR 15 Persuasion check.

Armory

A squat, thick-walled building on the coast at the edge of the clearing. No buildings were allowed to be constructed within 60 feet of it. Two very bored guards stand watch at all times. It contains all the weapons of off-duty soldiers, as well as some heavier arms and explosives.

  • 17 shortswords
  • 20 rifles
  • 8 pistols
  • 10 longswords
  • 6 Glaives
  • 5 submachine guns
  • 3 sniper rifles
  • 4 grenades
  • 3 power cells (highly explosive)
Imperial Command Office

The tallest building in the settlement, but rarely occupied. It overlooks both the garrison and the armory. Only two to three officers are on duty at any time and they don’t spend much time behind desks. Staff Sergeant Escara Cass can usually be found sleeping behind the reception desk.

On the ground floor, a pair of always-open double doors lead into a dark and almost empty room. A pile of rope barriers for directing queues lie unused in the corner, and single desk sits at the far side, behind it sleeps Staff Sergeant Escara. In the corner, a locked door leads to the stairs up. It can be unlocked with a hacking (Logic) or lockpicking (Agility) roll versus CR 12. A collection of work orders for both civilians and the military are stored on datapads lying out on the desk in front of Staff Sergeant Escara:

  • A standing bounty of 500 credits per cat beast head (each one will reset the 2 week waiting period for buying items of the same WL, four of these will increase one player from WL 2 to WL 3)
  • 100 credits per person to help unload crates at the imperial port “some time after sundown” (this matches the description of the cargo the party are investigating, see The Shipment event)
  • A locked datapad (Logic versus CR 15) which contains further information about the unloading job:
    • The exact time of arrival is 22:00, but contractors should only be told “after sundown” for security reasons
    • The crates will go out to “the factory” by cargo truck
    • There are 11 crates expected
    • An officer will accompany the convoy from Kynall to the factory
  • An offer to buy non-standard food to supplement rations for the garrison
  • A locked datapad (Logic versus CR 12) containing orders for a squad to observe the bounty hunters and watch for trouble. This order has not yet been given to the squad (and the location of the datapad at the bottom of the pile implies it won't be any time soon).

On the second floor is a break room, with a small kitchenette. A table holds a set of used plates and eating utensils, in one corner is a single bed and coat rack. In the opposite corner is a ladder to the top floor. A CR 15 Perception check will allow a player to find a keycard in the pocket of a coat on the rack, on a failure they only notice that the trapdoor upstairs is unlocked and may spend longer searching than they wanted to.

The top floor is storage and archives. Searching the archives (CR 12 Perception, Logic or Learning) will reveal all the information on the datapads downstairs, as well as revealing shift schedules (changing at 07:00, 15:00 and 23:00) and a full list of the contents of the armory. The shift schedules cannot be changed from here without great difficulty, and it is likely that nobody actually checks the schedules anymore given the many years since they were last changed. There are also stacks of spare officers’ uniforms and blank datapads.

The Cat-Bite Bar

In the exact centre of the settlement lies the busiest place in all of Kynall, favored by off-duty soldiers and recovering hunters. Jennica Treboh tends the bar, keeping a quiet eye on her patrons. The bounty hunters can be found here to begin with; see the Bounty Hunt event to determine the composition of the mercenary group. Jennica can be questioned about events in and around the bar (such as the soldiers, cat-beast smugglers and bounty hunters) with a CR 18 Persuasion check, otherwise she is unwilling to gossip.

An attempted Perception check will reveal that the bounty hunters are subtly watching one of the party (GM’s choice, see the Bounty Hunt event), on a 15 or higher they will see Shae Kalvari talking secretively to some other hunters (see the Smugglers event), on a 20 or higher they will be able to identify the large group of 7 off-duty soldiers near the bar, out of uniform.

Skeev’s General Store

Skeev Blackmoor runs the general store on the northern side of Kynall. Here, most common items can be bought at a price slightly more than they are worth. He is also on the lookout for people to assist with the capturing of an albino cat beast (see the Smugglers event).

With only one reliable connection to the outside world, the empire is able to keep a close watch on imports and exports, but Skeev has a variety of contraband available to the right customer. He sells:

  • Many basic supplies at the GM’s discretion, such as ropes, rations and bandages
  • Any reasonable WL 1 or 2 melee weapon from the Equipment chapter of the Core Rules
  • Cat beast pelts
  • 4 rifles
  • Black Market goods:

Westreach Forest

A sprawling forest that covers the western edge of the continent in dense tree cover. It rises as you journey further inland. Cat beasts roam the woods, leaping between the trees. Every few hours, cat beasts will attempt to attack any group of travellers in an easy encounter unless they are wearing cat beast pelts.

A successful Perception check against the cat beast’s Agility will allow the character to detect the attack, then a successful Might or Presence check against the cat beast’s Resolve will prevent the attack and scare them away for another few hours. Grant advantage to the Perception check if the party are being cautious and also if multiple characters are maintaining a watch. Assume an automatic success if they are accompanied by a hunter.

The Ravine

The river through Kynall flows out of a ravine a few hundred yards into the trees. As the land slopes upwards, the river stays at approximately the same height so that the ravine gets deeper and deeper the further inland you travel. 2 hour's travel up the ravine it forks, and a smaller offshoot of the river winds its way south towards the Sunbird factory. Walking along the bottom of the ravine is half as fast as walking through the trees, although it does keep travellers safe from cat beasts. When the southern ravine reaches the Sunbird factory, there is an outflow pipe dribbling industrial waste. It can be used to enter the factory (see the In The Pipes event).

The Hunters’ Camp

An hour south of Kynall, a campfire becomes visible through the trees. Here, Zhin Kalvari has set up a camp. Small cages are stacked between the trees. In one of them, a cat beast lies sedated. If they are not accompanied by Shae Kalvari then Zhin is highly suspicious and unwilling to offer any assistance (see the Smugglers event).

Sunbird Factory

Exterior

5 hours south of Kynall lies the factory where the shipments are being sent. A hundred yards to its west is a 50 foot tall sea cliff lined with anti-air guns To its east and south the ravine bends around it and the river flows into the sea, such that it can only be approached from the north or via the ravine or cliff. Scouts run regular patrols on the northern approach, but will not usually check the ravine as long as they don’t hear suspicious noises.

Climbing any of the cliffs unaided requires a CR 20 Might check. A rope grants advantage to the lead climber, and if the rope is tied off following climbers can make a reduced CR check of 12 to reach the top. In the ravine is an outflow pipe from the factory (see the In The Pipes event).

Interior

The majority of the factory is taken up by an enormous workshop. It is full of machinery, and stacks of the crates which are being shipped in secretly. One exterior wall is on rollers, designed to open completely. In the centre of the workshop lies the Sunbird; it is a small passenger ship, heavily armored and insulated, and is either newly complete or entirely non-functional depending on whether the GM wishes for the party to steal or destroy it.

Clustered around the workshop are various offices, a small barracks, and a maintenance area filled with pipes and generators. If the offices are investigated, the party can discover the destination of the Sunbird; a ship carrying a valuable cargo (vital intelligence, a powerful weapon, rare materials, etc. at the GM’s choice) stranded in low orbit over a star, which the Sunbird is to rescue. There is a hard encounter’s worth of scouts and robots in and around the factory, and a War Walker concealed nearby among the trees. The dozen or so factory workers will raise the alarm unless threatened, but will not attempt to fight.

Items

Scatter Gun

Used by the bounty hunters. Scatter guns are dangerous and heavy weapons, illegal to sell here but not illegal to own.

Medical Supplies

Some excess supplies from Mako Lindemann's surgery.

Adrenal Stim

Black market combat drugs, sold by Skeev Blackmoor.

Cat Beast Pelt

Cat Beasts will not attack a character wearing a pelt, preferring to attack other targets if possible and only attacking a pelt-wearer if the wearer attacks first or if they smell of blood. All local hunters wear one of these.

The Sunbird

A heavily modified passenger shuttle, built to withstand intense heat.

Events

Arrival

Begin the game by reading this text:


The settlement of Kynall is a small hunting outpost surrounded by deep ocean to the west and dense forest on all other sides. Its only exports are the pelts and parts of semi-rare beasts, and people leaving because they're tired of living cut off from civilisation. Its only imports; the food and supplies necessary to maintain such a settlement, the great amount of soldiers and officers being given punitive assignments, and shipments of large, unmarked crates that seem to disappear as soon as they arrive at the imperial port. The unmarked crates caught the attention of you or your employer, but the unreasonably large military presence necessitates some caution.

Your group has arrived at Kynall by starship, with the cover story that you are travelling to look for work. Your real mission is to find out where the mystery shipments are heading, and then to either steal or destroy whatever is being developed in secret.

You step off the ship in the morning and are immediately hit by a wave of humidity and the smell of forest and fish intermingling. Moss covers every shaded surface, while areas in the sunlight are crawling with vines. Already you begin to sweat in the heat, and then you sweat some more when you see an imperial officer striding towards you flanked by two soldiers and tailed by a thin and tired-looking engineer. You’re about to reach for your weapons when he breaks into a beaming smile and throws his arms wide.

“Welcome to Kynall,” he says, “How can I help you?”


The officer is Commander Vatari Vance, the engineer is Iris Nunes. Iris will busy herself setting the ship up for refueling while the soldiers linger with the Commander. Commander Vance is happy to see new people coming to his settlement, and will do as much as he can to get them to stay. He will inform them that jobs are available at the Command Office, and warn the party of the mercenaries who are hanging around at the bar. If questioned, he can give them directions to any location in Kynall, but will pretend to know nothing about the shipments or the factory if asked. The party will find themselves shadowed by a squad of soldiers (easy encounter) for the duration of their stay if they raise his suspicions.

As they leave the spaceport, they see Kynall. Many small houses, little more than permanent tents, fit into every available space. The ground is heavily trodden dirt, covered in hardy weeds. Directly in front of them, a short walk up the river, is the Cat-Bite Bar. To their right, the Garrison is visible and a group of 4 on-duty soldiers are playing cards around a crate. Beside it, the Command Office lies open and dark, around the corner from that is the Armory. Skeev’s General Store is on the opposite side of the settlement, to the north.

Bounty Hunt

Initially in the Cat-Bite Bar are a small band of mercenaries and their robotic troops. In total, they should be a moderate encounter made of 1-4 mercenaries and any number of robots. They have arrived here very recently and are lying in wait for one member of the player party who has a bounty on their head, of which the party may or may not be aware (GM’s choice of which PC is most likely to have a bounty). If confronted they will state that they are in Kynall waiting for a bounty, but will not reveal who because they “don’t want the competition”.

After they have seen their bounty target, the mercenaries will leave to set up an ambush at the party’s ship. This ambush should involve all the mercenaries - armed with scatter guns - and robots attempting to surround the group, and preferentially attacking non-bounty characters to try and take their target alive. The local soldiers are slow to respond and unused to action. They will arrive two at a time 5-10 minutes after the first shot is fired, with Commander Vance in the second group. The imperial soldiers will attempt to find out what happened from the party, when the commander arrives he will apologise for the slow response, order the bodies cleaned up and survivors arrested, then try to encourage the party to be checked out by Doctor Lindemann at the Garrison.

Smugglers

In the Cat-Bite Bar, Shae Kalvari is quietly discussing a smuggling job with some other hunters. If the party eavesdrop, (requiring a contested Agility or Perception check versus the Hunter NPC) they will hear her talking about an albino cat beast seen “near the factory” and how she is hoping that it doesn’t attack the convoy and get itself killed.

If the party talk to Shae, she will quickly guess their intent unless they succeed at a CR 20 Deception check. She will barter information about the factory in exchange for help capturing - not killing - the albino cat beast. Alternatively, this event can be triggered by striking a deal with Skeev or persuading Iris to talk. Both of them will direct the party towards Shae to continue the event. Capturing cat beasts is strictly illegal in the empire, as they are highly invasive and will often escape and take over the local ecosystem, which is what happened in the Westreach Forest.

Shae will lead the party into the forest, towards the hunters camp. There, she and Zhin will plan capturing the albino cat beast. Unless the party has a better plan, Shae and Zhin will hide in the trees wearing cat beast pelts while a member of the party sheds some blood in the area where the albino cat beast roams. This should be a moderate encounter with multiple cat beasts, counting Shae and Zhin as hunters towards the total party level.

During the fight, the albino cat beast will be more cautious than the rest and maintain a distance unless it sees an opportunity to attack someone weak. To capture it, the cat beast must be Immobilised by any means, and then a contested Might check must be made as a major action to tie its limbs together. While it is tied, Shae or Zhin must spend a Focus Action applying sedative. Until they do, it will attempt to break free every turn by making a Might check versus CR 20. The Might check is made at disadvantage if there is a hunter or player character adjacent to the cat beast.

When the albino is captured and the other cat beasts slain, Zhin will bundle it into a cage while Shae tells the party about the factory and its surroundings, especially the outflow pipe and scout patrols. She also mentions that a convoy of cargo trucks comes through the forest towards it after each time when shipments arrive at the imperial port. If the albino is killed, instead the hunters will be angry and unwilling to help.

The Shipment

If the party accepted the unloading job at the Command Office, then they will be given work slips that allow them into the imperial port around sundown. If they have the keycard and an officer’s uniform, they can simply walk in. Otherwise, they can attempt to sneak in with a CR 15 Persuasion or Deception check to get past the guard or a CR 20 Agility check to get in through one of the few windows. Allow creative solutions here.

If spotted once inside, an officer will assume they are here to work whether they are or not. They are directed to wait in the warehouse area. Iris Nunes is here also waiting, she can be persuaded to set up a distraction (Fugitive Perk or CR 15 Persuasion) as long as the party knows the real time of arrival. If they haven’t found this earlier then the exact timing can be found in an office on the upper floor, requiring an officer’s uniform or a CR 15 Agility check to sneak and a CR 10 Perception check to search.

At exactly 22:00 three cargo trucks will pull in through the garage doors and park, and a cargo ship will land outside. The trucks have enclosed, armored cockpits with extremely limited line of sight. An easy encounter of soldiers and one officer stand watch as the party unloads the ship. There are 11 crates of various sizes, which can be opened with a CR 12 Might check to reveal many different kinds of armor panels, insulating material and heat-resistant electronics. A failed check might open the crate, but damage it so that an inspection will reveal that it has been opened.

The party can overpower the guards, but the officer will call for reinforcements in the second round of combat unless prevented from doing so, which will add another officer and a moderate encounter of soldiers and heavy soldiers. If a distraction is caused, the party can conceal themselves in the cargo trucks. Creative solutions should also be allowed here.

If the party go to the factory in the trucks, they will bypass the scout patrols and arrive at night when the workers are asleep.

In The Pipes

In the ravine below the Sunbird factory, an outflow pipe 5 feet in diameter is dribbling industrial waste into the river. It is covered by a grate, which is rusty but welded into place. A CR 15 check with an appropriate attribute must be made to remove the grate, a failure may result in the grate being removed but the scouts above hearing the noise.

Travelling up the pipe will take the party to the maintenance area in the factory. Each character must make a CR 15 Fortitude check or become Sickened for one hour by the toxic waste.

The Front Door

If approaching the factory from the forest, the party will have to sneak past two patrols of scouts and robots with Agility versus Perception checks. If the check is failed by the majority of the party then they are spotted, leading to an easy encounter with two groups of reinforcements (each an easy encounter) arriving 2 and 4 rounds after the alarm is raised.

The Factory

The factory is guarded by a moderate encounter of scouts and robots with one officer. If the alarm was raised during The Front Door then this is reduced to an easy encounter. If sneaking around the factory, the party must make an Agility check versus the scouts’ Perception in each room, being detected if the majority of the group fail.

The Sunbird must be destroyed or stolen (GM’s choice whether it is functional enough to steal). To destroy it the party needs something explosive - which could be scrounged from the workshop - or some tools and a lot of time. To steal it, they must open the main doors and power up the Sunbird’s reactor over 10-15 minutes. Doing either will alert the War Walker team.

If the party are fleeing after the explosion, then they will run into the War Walker team scanning the area unless they take a very circuitous route. If they are powering up the Sunbird, then the War Walker team will arrive at the factory a few minutes after they start the process. The War Walker team is a hard encounter, consisting of the War Walker and any number of heavy soldiers. Follow the War Walker default tactics for this encounter, noting that its speed will allow it to catch up to them if they try and flee; empire reinforcements are a long way away unless any scout teams are still alive. When this encounter is over, the module is complete! Narrate your players’ escape, and allow them to tell you what they do next. See Alternate Suggestions for ways to integrate this module into a larger campaign.

Alternate Suggestions

Project Sunbird can function in any setting involving an evil empire, though the party are assumed to be hostile to the empire.

This module can easily work in a fantasy setting by swapping technology for magic, and spaceships for sea ships. The Sunbird is then intended to be lowered down the cliff by cranes to sail for a magical vortex which it has been armored to withstand. Weapons and items would need to be re-examined, and the final boss may be swapped (see the setting suggestions on the War Walker page).

By changing the reasons why the party are investigating and the intended destination of the Sunbird, this module can serve as part of a larger campaign. The Sunbird is designed to survive a hostile environment, which can be the location or route to the next adventure.

To make this adventure fit for higher level players, increase the NPC level using the Quick-Build NPC rules, include higher WL items, and adjust the CR of attribute checks.

GM Concerns

The restricted access to items is a key part of this adventure, if the player characters have a WL higher than 2 then the cost (and possibly value) of items in the general store should be increased by the same amount. Don't worry about this for new characters with the Wealthy feat, you should allow them full advantage from their feat investment.

The sandbox nature of this module means that the time to completion is highly variable, so some events can be removed to make the module shorter, even during play.

If the party are taking longer than you expect, the Bounty Hunt event can be skipped, random cat beast encounters in the forest can be reduced, and the guard presence at the Sunbird Factory can be lessened. The module can be ended when the Sunbird is located, resolving the fate of the Sunbird and the factory through a series of questions to the players as an epilogue.

If the module seems like it will end too soon, introduce more cat beast attacks and more guard encounters at the factory. Additionally, the module can be extended and even linked to a larger campaign by allowing the party to escape with the Sunbird and playing out the journey, involving attacks by pirates (which could be related to the mercenaries) and navigating to safely recover the stranded ship.

Attributions

Created by Samuel Wilby for the National Student Roleplay and Wargaming Championships 2018, in Bradford University UK.

License Notice

This product was created under the Open Legend Community License and contains material that is copyright to Seventh Sphere Entertainment. Such use of Seventh Sphere Entertainment materials in this product is in accordance with the Open Legend Community License and shall not be construed as a challenge to the intellectual property rights reserved by Seventh Sphere Entertainment. Seventh Sphere Entertainment and Open Legend RPG and their respective logos are trademarks of Seventh Sphere Entertainment in the U.S.A. and other countries.

The full-text Open Legend Community License can be found at http://www.openlegendrpg.com/community-license.