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Darren Watts

Quote of the Week from my gaming group...

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Pathfinder: The Mummy Mask : Have Shovel, Will Tomb-raid
Dramatis personae

Zenobia the Gnoll, a cleric of the goddess of healing, Sarenrae. She used to be a butcher, which is alarming since her species has a not undeserved reputation for eating their captives. No doubt it was the kindness of some missionary of Sarenrae that set her on a different path, especially since many priests of that faith are obliged to give healing to complete strangers at least once a day, and all of them obliged to try and redeem the evil. Saving the life of a gnoll butcher would certainly qualify, and leave quite the impression on a more thoughtful gnoll.

Nemat of Valat - At least, that's the name he gave on the legal paperwork. He rarely (and to none of the PCs as yet) gives out his real name of Nemat Merituzat. His family maintains a shrine to the Old Gods out in the desert, which is why he usually goes by the other name. For some reason the current Osirion dynasty don't care much for the old religion - and it's not like THAT will ever bite them on the arse, amirite? A thoughtful and quietly observant individual, and well educated in the history and culture of his country.

Asrian al-Adjir
: Probably not human. Given she goes around veiled head-to-foot all the time, the rest of us aren't sure, but we're not going to pry. After all, as Zenobia the gnoll has said at some length, the world is full of all kinds of people and the goddess said we have to give them all the benefit of the doubt, at least the first time.

Onka the Half-orc: "Irori Helps those that Help Themselves." Onka had those words beaten into him more than once by his Shaman Teacher as he grew up in the Jungles of Mwangi. Eventually he escaped to his Mother's Homeland of Thuvia where he became a Spell Sage. The rumour of the opening of the tombs and the temptation of long forgotten artifacts of power have brought him to Osirion, because Irori, after all, had to start somewhere on the road to Godhood.


Our newly-formed adventuring party, the Covenant of Wati, have come to the desert city of the same name to participate in some state-sanctioned tomb-robbing. We have various motivations, ranging from ‘money’, to the desire to prove one’s worth to the Goddess of Sunlight by bringing light into dark places such as probably-undead-infested ancient tombs. At least we’re all professional enough to know the basics, and have appropriate equipment - mostly.

Asrian: You'll need to buy lockpicks. I can't afford them.
Nemat: They were in your backpack. Which was stolen.
Asrian: … Onka, where did you get THOSE lockpicks from?
Onka: From a market stall. Luck favors the prepared.

The ceremony to assign adventuring teams to various tombs is overseen by the the cult of Pharasma (Goddess of Fate, Death, Prophecy and Birth, but not in that order) and her High Priestess of the Mausoleum.

GM: Sebti the Crocodile (not an actual crocodile).
Asrian: *spluttering with suppressed laughter*
Zenobia: ?
Asrian: In old Osirian ‘Crocodile’ is slang for accomplished fellatrix
Nemat: Well, this is good to know.

Zenobia OoC: So, part of the town got rezoned ‘Undead’?
Nemat: That’s a gross simplification. Hundreds of years after the Plague of Madness the Pharasman priests designated the abandoned part of Wati as a necropolis, partly to contain the ongoing undead problem, and partly as a memorial.
Zenobia OoC: If some of the undead are nobility, does that count as gentrification?

Sebti the Crocodile: By order of the Pharaoh Khemet the Third, the exploration of the necropolis will be open only to permitted explorers, and not...
Zenobia: Opportunistic grave-robbers?
Sebti: Quite.
Onka: We call them ‘queue-jumpers’ today.
Nemat: Shush.

Of course, we can’t go in and just ransack the place. We’ll lose our grave-robbing license if we do that. The first group to get assigned their random assignment are the ‘Crypt-Finders’, a very standard-looking adventuring party. The ‘Daughters of the Desert’ has a human-looking bard leader, who looks surprisingly Scandinavian.

Zenobia: And they call themselves the Daughters of the Desert?
Nemat: Probably for the same reason we’re called the Covenant of Wati - they got here, were told they had to come up with a name, and panicked.

There’s also also halfling ‘Dog Soldiers’ ( “With a pack of good doggos. All 12 out of 10” ), elven ‘Sand Scorpions’, and many other less notable groups. The party’s gnoll cleric chooses to interpret this as good planning on behalf of the organisers.

Zenobia: If we’re all going into different buildings, there’s no chance of conflict with these other parties.
Asrian and Nemat: LOL

The last team before we get our own assignment call themselves The Scorched Hand.

Nemat: Well, that doesn’t sound ominous at all.

The Scorched Hand’s representative is apparently quite upset about the random assignments, and instead demands access to something called the Sanctum of the Erudite Eye. She doesn’t get her way, and stomps off. Of course, we are all paying different amounts of attention to our possible rivals - as determined by perception rolls. Some of us seem to be developing a trend in the rolls.

Asrian OoC: I’m strongly beginning to suspect I’m gay.
Nemat OoC: Apparently I’m not paying attention to what she’s saying. Why is it every character I play instantly becomes a Lothario?

Nemat: Which of us is going up to draw our assignment token?
Asrian: I’ll go.
Zenobia: Good idea, you’re the local girl.

Our group gets assigned the Tomb of Akhentepi. Time to do some research, before the gates of the Necropolis get opened in the morning. We’ve also been assigned rooms at at nearby inn, the Tooth and Hookah.

All: …
Onka: That was ‘Hookah’, and not Hooker, right?

Akhentepi was a military leader interred shortly before the Plague of Madness. Next to nothing else is known about him. Nemat and Asrian go around to have a polite chat with the Scorched Hand representative, and counsel patience. After all, this Sanctum of the Erudite Eye might be in the next round of of assignments, and the random assignment is explicitly the will of the gods (or Pharasma’s priests anyway).

Zenobia: Try not to freeze up when you meet the attractive human female again.

Asrian’s self-description includes a Turkish-style helmet, with a veil hanging down around her face, and silver white threads of hair sticking out here and there.

Zenobia OoC: So you look like a bulb of garlic?

The predictable cloud of hashish smoke and other flavoured vapes in the Tooth and Hookah is not doing Zenobia and her sensitive snout much good.

Nemat: I’d better stick close to Zenobia, just in case something happens.
Zenobia OoC: Yes, like somebody yelling GNOLL! And attacking.
Nemat OoC: Exactly.
Zenobia OoC: We are in a bar with dozens of stoned adventurers after all.
Nemat OoC: ‘Yes, it’s a gnoll, didn’t you notice the Symbol of Sarenrae?’
Asrian OoC: ‘Do you have a PROBLEM with non-humans?’
Nemat OoC: ‘And how badly do you want to piss off every cleric of Sarenrae in town?’

The inn also has a mascot - a very small crocodile that lives in the well.

Onka: But we get drinking water from that.
Zenobia: So? Proves the water is clean - if it’s good enough for a crocodile, it’s good enough for us.

We circulate with the other adventuring parties, getting to know the more loquacious ones and mobbed by the halflings’ good doggos. Nobody appears to have any information on this long-dead general we can use, but then none of them are locals.

Nemat: I’m not local, but I’d at least heard of him.

The temple of Pharasma sends messengers to wake everybody in time for the dawn unlocking of the Necropolis. To our surprise, there are actually businesses that operate in the Necropolis, at least during daylight hours, and at least operating from buildings that used to have a similar purpose. The ancient dance hall now appears to be dedicated to the horizontal rumba, for example. But even these people, for whom the cultural strictures against entering the Necropolis don’t seem very effective, avoid going into the northern end of the Necropolis. Guess where the Tomb of Akhentepi is.

Nemat: Interesting - this date on the tomb says he died more than a decade before the Plague of Madness. But I’d thought he’d died shortly before it. Apparently 11 years is ‘short’.
Zenobia: This is Osirion - eleven years is yesterday.
Nemat: True enough - we’ll have to get used to the fact that we’re dealing with thousands of years of history around here.

Nemat is also suspicious that the mortar around the door has already been chiselled away, but that might just mean the priests of Pharasma were being helpful in the lead-up to the exploration date. He’s also careful to dig all the sand piling up around the door away - after all, we may have to leave in a hurry, and slam the door behind us. Asrian pitons the doors open, out of similar paranoia.

Onka: History is filled with idiots that got stuck in tombs.
Asrian: So are tombs.

Nemat and Asrian also set up a tripline across the doorway. Again, just in case. Zenobia gets out her tomb-raiding gear, which includes a candle helmet. Onka and Nemat just get out their IOUN torches.

Zenobia: ?
Nemat: You know how there’s burnt-out IOUN stones, and all they can do is circle around your head? Somebody went ‘Continual Light’ and had a permanent light source that circles your head.
Onka: And they even work underwater.
Zenobia: Huh. Well, I’m setting up my candle anyway, just in case.
Nemat: I’ve got candles too - as you say, my friend, just in case.

The dust in the antechamber shows that the Pharasmans didn’t actually open the doors once they’d chiselled the mortar away - and nobody else has been in here in a long long time. Nemat reads the hieroglyphs, which include blessings from Anubis, one of the old gods, AND warnings from Pharasma, who had worshippers even back then.

“The Only Thing The Lady Of Graves Despises More Than A Graverobber, Is An Unsuccessful Graverobber. Turn Back While You Can.”

Nemat: This is fascinating - if only I had pen and paper to record it. They were clearly playing the odds when they prepared this tomb.

Nemat and Asrian wrestle the enormous rolling stone wheel from across the inner door - Asrian is MUCH stronger than she looks, and probably isn’t human under all those robes and veils. Zenobia pops back outside to find some loose bricks to keep it open, and steps over the tripline at the same time a large Ghost Scorpion come in UNDER the tripline. A certain amount of fancy foot ensues, as Onka tries to dodge the rush of a child-sized giant translucent arthropod. Zenobia attacks the beast from behind, and apparently the goddess Sarenrae approves since her scimitar lights up with holy flame as she does so.

Asrian: I thought that was my trick.

The scorpion is somewhat outclassed, and is soon an ex-scorpion. We proceed deeper, and down a deep shaft, with all due caution. For example, we don’t trust the piton and rope already set up at the top of the shaft. A wise decision, since the rope has perished from decades of decay. A thought occurs to Zenobia, as she is looking back up from the bottom of the shaft, set in the middle of the ceiling, and completely inaccessible if not for the ropes we left in place.

Zenobia: What happens if we need to get back out in a hurry?
Nemat: Don’t be in a hurry.

There are depictions of the late general on the walls, which probably means this is where offerings in his memory would have been left. There’s also a body, that’s been down here long enough to naturally mummify. It looks like he fell down the shaft and shattered both legs. No doubt the rope and piton were his work. But who replaced the mortar around the door when he didn’t come back?

Nemat: I’m expecting the traps to start in the next room.
GM: Have you been reading this module?
Nemat: No - but this room was set up for authorised visitors. The next one won’t be.

He’s right, too. Onka’s careful prodding with a ten-foot pole triggers a pressure plate, and darts erupt from the wall.

GM: Duck.
Nemat: What?? He used a pole!
GM: I know. The darts are coming ALONG the corridor, not across it.
All: FUUUUUUU-

Injuries are minor, the trap is disabled, and we proceed. Weirdly for an ancient Egyptian expy, the next room has a tapestry, depicting some kind of family scene, and a couple of carefully placed mummified cats, which probably isn’t weird for Osirion at all. The fact that the cats aren't reanimated tomb guardians is surprising, though. But back to the family portrait.

Zenobia OoC: Is it a trapestry?

Apparently not. The family on the tapestry are much younger than we know Akhentepi was at the time of his death. Perhaps that implies his family passed on long before he did. As Zenobia observes, this might explain why the tomb was sealed too - no family left to come and remember him. The next room has a chariot, military frescos, and a large chest that screams TRAP.

Nemat: I can understand why that chariot is down here, but how did they get it in?
Zenobia: In pieces.
Nemat: Ah. Of course.
GM: It looks like the chariot was meticulously restored, dismantled, and reassembled down here. But time has taken its toll, so you wouldn’t be able to drive it out of here.
Zenobia: Well you couldn’t fit it through the doorway for a start.
GM: There is that.

Asrian can’t find any traps on the chest. Highly suspicious. The trap, a poisoned blade, is of course designed to stab a thief in the hand while he or she is fiddling with the lock. The chest is filled with a couple of potions and gold-plated metal sheet books.

Onka: Remind me - we are allowed to walk off with this stuff, right?
Asrian: Certainly are.
Onka: Rightio *reaches in*
Asrian: Just a moment - I want to check the contents for contact poison first.
GM: *sigh*
Zenobia OoC: These players more evil-minded than the module designers, are we?
GM: Yep.

It’s true - that dart trap and the poisoned blade were cunning, but as the gnoll observes, a really cunning trapsmith would have put another trap under the chest, in the event it was ever moved.

The book is military biography - interesting to historians, but not as interesting as, say, prophecies that some great evil will resurface at the end of the week. We cart it all back to the shaft, for later sale to the government, and head deeper to continue our free-market archaeology.

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I swear. If it turns out that I can only succeed on diplomacy checks with attractive females, despite being an Inquisitor with the Conversion Inquisition, I'm giving up and making every character that I play a lecherous philanderer.

(I'm Nemat's player.)

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Our Heroes:

Amon-Ra: Archaeologist who found an artifact that is a conduit to an ancient god.

Diamondback: Exposure to a strange crystal gave her immense strength and durability.

Double-Time!: Given incredible running speed during a lab accident.

Faceless: FBI agent with the ability to assume the shape of any person he sees.

Ka-Pow!: 17 year old boxer and mechanic who's a bit more than human.

Professor Polar: Discoverer of "cold energy".

Shard: Exposed to the same crystal as Diamondback, but instead has the ability to grow and control similar crystals.

Tarraingteacht: Agent Carter's skills with Polaris's powers.

Zoltan the Magnificent: Stage magician who also knows real magic.

 

***

 

Diamondback -- I'm actually saying this.  I'm not just babbling.

 

***

 

Diamondback -- I'm going to stop being an idiot.  You should too.

 

***

 

GM -- No plan survives contact with the PCs' Psych Lims.

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Setting:  Post-apocalypse Berlin.  The heroes are attempting to infiltrate the secret Nazi base.

 

Mike (playing Nikita Murphy, ex-Soviet double agent):  "I should go in, since I'm the only one who speaks fluent German."

 

John (playing Donald Swift, Navy SEAL):  "Okay, dress in this captured Nazi officer uniform.  When you get to the front gate, use your skills to convince the guards that you are Colonel Hannah Schmidt, and you have time-sensitive information for the Base Commandant.  Once you are inside, you can let us in tonight.  What are you going to say?"

 

Mike:  "Guten Tag.  I am Colonel Hannah Schmidt and I must speak to the Commandant immediately!"

 

John:  "Okay.  Go!"

 

Mike (Murphy) goes up to the guard gate.

 

Guard #1:  "Halt! Wer geht dahin!"

 

Mike (having a real-life panic attack):  "Shalom!  I'm Hannah Schwartz.  Can I come in?"

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Pathfinder - The Mummy's Mask : Are You My Mummy?
In which our party of state-sanctioned tomb raiders are looting the final resting place of a long-dead quasi-Egyptian general. Basically we’re going through Tutankhamun’s tomb, if he had a larger budget for digging. And since we haven’t found the dead general’s actual body, there’s at least one chamber we haven’t been in yet. I wonder if he’ll be cranky?

Zenobia: So, what do you think the Sanctum of the Erudite Eye is?
Nemat: Well, the Erudite Eye is a reference to Nethys, one of the Ascended, and once a Pharaoh of Osirion.
Zenobia: Ascended?
Nemat: A mortal who became a god, without being born one or using the God-rock.
Zenobia: Oh. Like your deity, Onka?
Onka: *nods* Yes - a self-made god.
Nemat: Basically he got enough magical power that he said ‘I’mma God Now!’
Zenobia: When was this? Before the Plague of Madness?
Nemat: Why are asking me? I’m not an expert on ten thousand of Osirion history. Besides, it was so long ago nobody is sure when it happened.

The next chamber is basically an armoury, with a few extra items such as a military diorama and four funerary masks. The diorama is distinctly magical.

Zenobia: Four funerary masks? How many heads did this guy have?

Given that the masks represent multiple Old and New gods, it seems to be another example of the deceased hedging his bets by asking all four to watch over his tomb. And then we’re attacked by the toy soldiers on the diorama.

Nemat: Those sneaky ****s! I was looking around for statues animated as tomb guardians, I wasn’t expecting little guys!
GM: You’re being swarmed by a small army. Literally a small army.

Actually, it’s only three of them, but being stabbed in the shins by animated ushabti figures still hurts.

Zenobia: *trying to keep the figurines away from her shins* Should we try to talk to them first? We are in here with the current Pharaoh’s permission.
Nemat: A good thought, but these things are constructs, without free will.
Toy Soldier: *leaping up to bash Zenobia in the head*
Zenobia: Ow. Agile little bastards, aren’t they?

They’re also a lot tougher and hit a lot harder than you might expect. But they ARE made of
wood, so Onka’s mouthful of Keros Oil and Asrian’s flaming scimitars are a nasty combination.

Nemat: Can we put the fires out now? The main reason I signed onto this was to limit the damage to cultural relics.
Asrian: *picks them up and puts them out with her bare hands*
Nemat: … Ok then.

Some of the loot is pretty interesting too, such as a shield shaped like a scarab - Asrian takes especial caution with that one, before we risk moving it. The cult of Pharasma will probably be quite interested in it, since Scarabs are one of her psychopomp creatures.

Zenobia: I do wonder what equating people’s souls with the stuff scarabs usually roll around reflects about the souls involved.

That doesn’t stop Zenobia from using it, for now, but she does feel a bit bad about it.

Nemat: Why? Pharasma and Sarenrae get on fine.
Asrian: Pharasma gets on well with most gods.
Zenobia: Well, you'd certainly HOPE you get on fine with the goddess of prophecy and death. Imagine if you didn't.

The four chests and clay jars stacked against the walls are sealed with wax.

Nemat: Well, you’re already set, Asrian, but everybody else? Facewraps before we open these.

It’s all paperwork and private letters anyway, in the chests.

Nemat: I’ll give them a quick skim.
GM: Just in case anything jumps out at you.
Zenobia: Hopefully not literally.
Nemat: ‘Sepia Snake Sigil! Argh!’

The jar contains Nard - and a pint of that costs a year’s wages. Not bad! Time to go explore the other wing of the tomb, anyway. It branches at the first chamber - one set of doors guarded by a statue of Anubis, and the other by a statue of Pharasma. Both sets of doors are slightly ajar, which is slightly alarming. The giant magical mirror occupying the opposite wall is even more alarming.

Onka: Well, at least we’re prepared for mirror f**kery.
Asrian: What are we expecting?
Nemat: Us.
Onka: Why not smash it from here?
Nemat: Because I’d rather face us than seven years of F**k You.
Onka: What if we walk into the room backwards?
Nemat: Then our mirror images will come out backwards, then turn around and stab us in the back.

Instead there’s an image of Akhentepi, the dead general, who looks looks a bit pissed about the tomb-robbing. Nemat, the only one of us who actually speaks Old Osiriani, explains that we are actually here with the permission of the Pharaoh and the cult of Pharasma, and why.

Nemat: (I was hoping to sit on this for a while yet, but…) I pledge to you, Akhentepi, that this is true. I, Nemat Merituzat.

None of the rest of us know the significance of that surname, anyway.

GM: The shade of Akhentepi casts Sense Motive
All: That’s fair.
Akhentepi: If it is true that the treasures in my tomb can help the people regain knowledge of the Old Ways... you may proceed.
Nemat: Hooray for Diplomancy!
GM: Much better than having THIEF etched into your foreheads, anyway.
Nemat: I wonder how many of the other teams are going come out with that? ‘What, none of you speak Old Osiriani?’

The room guarded by Anubis is an on-site mummification chamber.

GM: Drhoz, you’re probably going to Squee here. Your character is probably going to scream. Two giant Sun Spiders clamber up over the altar.
Zenobia: What have they been eating down here?
Onka: Tomb-robbers.
Nemat: AGFGHHTTRFFGGHH WHAT THE F**K IS THAT!

The other set of doors suddenly seems much more appealing, but Onka prepares for more Keros Oil breath weapons, in case of more giant toothy-jawed hairy spiders. One of the walls of the stair over there has collapsed - outwards, into tunnels.

Zenobia: Well, I guess that explains how the sun spiders got in.

Of course, we’re all so busy sidling along the opposite wall, eyeing the holes, that we step on the large sand-based snake monster that was snoozing on one of the steps. In fact, it was snoozing on most of the steps. Happily, it still seems vulnerable to being cut into pieces.

Zenobia OoC: Just call us the Dustbusters.

The lower depths of the tomb don’t any statues or symbols of Anubis - it’s all Pharasma down here.

Nemat: Onka, note this down - this is fascinating! Don’t any of you realise what this might mean?
All: *look blank*
Nemat: This tomb could have been built during the period the worship of Pharasma was eclipsing Anubis! (Nemat is a huge geek)

But the corridor narrows and ends in a unfinished dead end.

Zenobia: The budget for digging must have run out.

Actually, one of the letters we found earlier did say that his second wife’s tomb was unfinished, so maybe nobody bothered finishing the job with the rest of his family predeceased. Or, you know, it could be a decoy concealing the secret door Asrian finds while combing the walls. The fact that the door can only be opened from the other side does seem suspicious. We head back to try another set of doors, and discover more stairs heading down. And a big bug.

GM: OOOOh, that’s a big bug.
Onka: I close the door.
Nemat: Always an option.
GM: It’s a Mining Beetle.
Onka: That would explain the collapsed walls.
Zenobia: I wonder if the main reason people avoid coming up to this end of the Necropolis is the giant bugs, and not the undead?

After a certain amount of excitement, we proceed to the next chamber - which contains a gold-trimmed sarcophagus and two statues of Anubis. Despite having his pet theory being shot down, Nemat is highly suspicious - someone as rich and powerful as Akhentepi should have been buried with slaves, and we should have found them first. Still, we circle around the room without going near the sarcophagus - after all, no point disturbing the honoured dead unless we have to.

Asrian: Don’t mind us, ancestor, just passing through.

The set of double doors opposite opens mechanically and automatically, into an empty room. Which isn’t empty for long as the roof caves in and water pours in afterward.

Nemat: Close the door! Close the door!
Asrian: A water trap in the desert???

As we discover, the water is just to close the circuit around the sarcophagus, which is now surrounded by arcing electricity. Fortunately none of us were up there bothering it. Unfortunately, the sarcophagus now rotates upright. But at least Nemat was right about this chamber not being the real tomb.

Nemat: Animated Objects! I hate them! (Except when I’m the GM)

The sarcophagus engulfs Asrian whole, to her surprise, and our alarm. It’s not easy to cut air holes in stone. Although, you CAN kick a sarcophagus in the balls, since they’re not immune to Sickening blows. And you can apparently stab them in the eyes as well, since they’re not immune to Blinding.

Nemat: Wadjet! Guide my spear! *makes a hole through the sarcophagus, and narrowly misses making one through Asrian. *
Zenobia: At least she has an air hole now. Asrian! Quick! Purse your lips and suck!

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I was in a rather mercenary DnD campaign, almost all of us died and started new characters. We had the money to revive characters but no one wanted to spend the cash, so we just looted the dead and split it among the survivors.  only one character did not a die, a big bad pile of hit points named, Circum. He was also the richest having split the treasure of all his former comrades. We began to call the game session, "Circum and his amazing Friends."

 

Before one session a player remarked, "We tend to roll-play and not role-play. Circum I don't even know what color your cloak is. Do you wear a hat? When you go to the tailor for a new suit...just what is Circum's size?"

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Pathfinder - The Mummy's Mask : Golden Mouldies
Onka: Shall I cast Detect Secret Doors?
Nemat: You’ve got that?
Onka: Yes, I’ve been holding it this whole time.
Nemat: Whoa whoa whoa, fighting one-handed is one thing, but that’s going too far. :D
Onka: …. ?

Nemat’s innuendo aside, it’s a useful spell - there are two hidden exits off the false tomb chamber.

Asrian OoC: I’ll want some assistance looking for traps - I have the kind of survival instinct usually found in lemmings.

The next chamber is stuffed with the cheaper kind of mummy.

Nemat: See? See? I told you! Slaves! Never doubt me again.
Zenobia: We are fortunate to have you in our party, friend. *examining the chamber* You’d think they’d ensure this chamber was high enough that the water from that last trap can’t drain in here and make the mummies all mouldy.
Nemat: This door was watertight - which tells us that the last trap was supposed to flood the room up to the ceiling.

Of course, the OTHER secret door is trapped too, but the exact nature of the trap has to hurriedly changed so one of the players doesn’t curl into the fetal position and whimper. Zenobia looks down at the ankle-deep swarm pouring out of the walls.

Zenobia: Are these dangerous?
Asrian: Very likely! (Now would be a good time to use that anti-swarm enchantment on your new shield!)
Zenobia: (Oh, this shield? With some kind of blessing inscribed on it that I don’t know how to read?)
Asrian: (Oh dear)

Just as well the anti-swarm enchantment activates automatically. Still, Asrian has a few spells that might clear the insects out a bit, and Onka has some pretty spectacular halitosis whenever he’s near an open flame, so we might not even need the shield.

Nemat OoC: I’d quite like to get whoever wrote this module in a locked room for a while. Swarms and Animated Objects! Argh!

Asrian throws a flask of alchemical fire at her own feet, and somehow doesn’t go up in flames herself.

Zenobia: … What are your robes made out of to survive that?
Asrian: Yes.

Zenobia: Nemat, there’s lots of little bugs inscribed on the back of this shield, is this important?
Nemat: … Yes, I should probably have a look at that, now.

At least when Asrian re-examines the trapped double doors, there’s no swarm of scary beetles.

GM: All these mummified slaves in here must have been the ones that closed the doors, from the inside, when the tomb was closed.
Zenobia: That doesn’t make sense - how did they wrap themselves up and mummify themselves?
Asrian: Animated Bandages.
Zenobia: …. OK, I can believe that.

Still, there’s magic, and objets d’art to loot.

Asrian: This might take a while.
Zenobia: What do you see?
Onka: Wonders! And lots of dust.

The millennia have been unkind to Akhentepi’s grave goods - most of the stuff stored in here has long since crumbled, but there’s a few alchemical flasks and other items that still look useable. Still, Ahkentepi’s actual body should be in the next chamber, if we’re right. We’re wrong. It’s actually a long ascending staircase, leading somewhere above the water trap’s reservoir. Happily, it seems to be clear of giant round boulders or other traps. Or the GM screwed up, which seems about as likely.

Zenobia: What are the odds that there’s some kind of big round boulder behind those doors at the top?
Nemat: I hate you.
Onka: I don’t think so - it would roll down and crush his grave goods.
Nemat: But then they’d just make the door at the bottom of the staircase smaller than the boulder.

No boulder. There IS a sarcophagus, and funerary urns, and something that flits into cover.

Zenobia: Did anybody else see that?
Nemat, Onka, and Asrian: *preparing weapons* YES.

Nemat: Another bloody Construct! Well, at least it’s not a Necrophidian.
Zenobia: What are the odds that the venom reservoirs have evaporated over the millennia?
Nemat: Not good.

But at least it’s easier to kill than another Animated Object.

Nemat: We’re not disturbing the sarcophagus. Which is probably why we haven’t found any undead down here - we’re not tomb-robbers, we’re actual archeologists. Interfering with the sarcophagus is how you get undead encounters.

GM: The first potion smells like carrots - it’s a Potion of Darkvision.

Apart from a few secret tunnels that the builders would have used to avoid the traps, there’s nothing else down here for use to explore. We rest up, at the bottom of the access well.

Nemat: Everybody in the city knows that we’ve gone into the tombs to recover the treasures of the ancients. Every one of them knows that we’ll be coming back laden done with the treasures of the ancients, and probably down a few people. At we avoided that last bit. But we’re still walking back through a part of town that even the local guards don’t go into - we’re bandit bait. So we’ll rest down here - it’s harder to sneak up on somebody if you have to drop a rope on them first.

Asrian does fall ill with something she caught off the insect swarm, but Nemat can treat it. He does note that what he can glimpse of Asrian’s skin is remarkably pale. But that’s not important.

Nemat: We’re still bandit bait. Well, mugger bait.
Zenobia: The difference between bandits and muggers is how far the criminals have to walk home afterwards.

As it happens, some of the town guard show up to give us an escort.

Asrian: Hey Sgt. Vinchion.
Zenobia: ?
Nemat: Asrian has reason to be on first-name basis with the local constabulary.

Nemat has an extensive archaeological report for the cult of Pharasma - their scribes can barely keep us. And there’s an extensive pile of loot to sell on, after the government have taken their cut, and we pick a few choice items of our own.

Zenobia does want to learn more about the Ancient Osirian culture, and Nemat is happy to expound.

Nemat: You know what people are going to say, right? When they see us eating our meals together, and talking in each other’s language, at length.
Zenobia OoC: When I realise this you’ll find out how a gnoll can blush.
Onka OoC: Why? You’re a gnoll of the world, you know how these things work.
Nemat OoC: Maybe. Of course, the ones that know anything about gnoll anatomy are going to go “Oooooh, riiiight”
Zenobia OoC: Eh - I’m more likely to end up attracted to Asrian. In which case awkward ladyboners are a real problem.

While we wait for the other teams to return from their missions (or not) we do our shopping (some items in short supply given the influx of adventurers, lesser items from the tombs already on sale), and variously carouse, visit shrines to Old Gods, and doing our stint at the local hospice. And, or course, compare notes with the surviving adventurers. But the Cryptfinders seem to be lying through their teeth about the ‘huge pile of loot’ they brought back from the government official they were supposed to be unearthing.

Cryptfinder: Ok, fine, it was a brewery.
All: *exchange glances* Nothing wrong with that.
Nemat: Did you find the recipe?

Mad Dog the Gnome is a bit despondent - he lost half his doggos to a Gelatinous Cube. But he did find a nice straight-edged magical sword in the same carnivorous jelly.

The Sand Scorpions came back empty-handed, and lost a few members to a pack of ghouls. Nemat, perhaps unwisely, expounds at length about the varieties of undead. They’re considering pulling out, but the rest of us suggest various ways they can continue, even lacking any clerics in the party.

The Scorched Hand (the one led by the woman with the spectacular arse, at least according to Nemat and Asrian) are even more irritated then they were before we all went in - not only did they not get assigned to the Sanctum of the Erudite Eye, they inside found themselves exploring a brothel with a basement full of zombies.

Still, swapping notes has been useful for everybody - and tomorrow they’re doing another draw for tomb-raiding targets. In our case, we’re exploring the house of Pentheru, a tax official. Could be some nice stuff, if it hasn’t crumbled from centuries of exposure. There’s some nice statues out by the gate, at least. The ruins of the gate also seems to be enchanted to scare off intruders with the sensation of imminent mob violence. Alternatively, it could be the echo of the mob violence that trashed the place centuries ago. Perhaps fixing the gates would dispel the haunt? A shame none of us have metalworking or engineering in our skill set.

Zenobia: Now where is a dwarf when you need one?

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Our Heroes:

Amon-Ra: Archaeologist who found an artifact that is a conduit to an ancient god.

Diamondback: Exposure to a strange crystal gave her immense strength and durability.

Double-Time!: Given incredible running speed during a lab accident.

Faceless: FBI agent with the ability to assume the shape of any person he sees.

Ka-Pow!: 17 year old boxer and mechanic who's a bit more than human.

Professor Polar: Discoverer of "cold energy".

Shard: Exposed to the same crystal as Diamondback, but instead has the ability to grow and control similar crystals.

Tarraingteacht: Agent Carter's skills with Polaris's powers.

Zoltan the Magnificent: Stage magician who also knows real magic.

 

**

 

Diamondback [OOC] -- I don’t play these games for realism.

 

***

 

Zoltan [in reference to hitting someone from behind] -- That would not be honorable. I’d wait until none of you were watching.

 

***

 

Diamondback [while the group was still in New York] -- If you think you need to go through South America to get to the Vatican. . .

 

***

 

Faceless -- This is a plan where our psych lims cannot get in the way.

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On 4/10/2018 at 12:20 AM, Netzilla said:

Faceless -- This is a plan where our psych lims cannot get in the way.

At least it's better than one campaign where we were lucky to not trip each others enraged disads. And that was usually when we found out that the group vehicle's "hunted by team gadgeteer" had tripped, meaning that a random system wasn't working because he'd scavenged some component for his latest prototype. Seriously, we ended up installing a floor hatch flanked by sturdy handles because of how many times the motive systems weren't working. Yes, we had resorted to using our brick and the "flintstone-matic" drive.

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The heroes are preparing to travel back to the Pliocene Epoch to stop a Mi-Go plot that is pulling people from the present back in time about, oh, 5 million years.  (I heavily modified the Delta Green adventure Artifact Zero for my Champions game.)

 

In my game, the Mi-Go look like winged man-sized crabs. 

 

Honey Badger:  I'm bringing a bunch of tartar sauce.

 

The team gadgeteer is making some force field belts to protect her teammates.

 

Maker:  What kind of attacks did they have last time?
GM:  They had a cryo-beam, which was an NND vs. Life Support: cold, Does BODY.  Plus a viral spray, so you'll probably also want Immune to Disease.  (pause)  Of course, the Mi-Go scientists could have built other fun stuff with their Variable Power Pools

Pops:  Because the gamemaster is a cheating d***.

 

Nexus' player, who is famous in our games for making really bad die rolls, is playing with her dice and rolls three ones.

 

Pops:  And you've just thrown away your only good roll of the evening.

 

We're discussing how they're going back in time, and how they're going to return, since that was all set up last week.

 

Circe:  So, after we go back in time and trash the Mi-Go, how are we getting back home?

Pops:  Those of us with Life Support: Immortality are all set.  We'll just hang out for a few million years.

Shadow Boxer:  And those of us with the ability to mimic others will just tag along.  Guess there'll be two Pops' running around for a while.

 

GM:  You're supercharging the command pod from your spaceship with T-radiation and using the Mi-Go's antenna array as an anchor to pull you back in time.  Then, when you've taken out the Mi-Go, you'll irradiate the pod with a slightly different wavelength of T-rads that is attuned to the antenna array that Pops and Maker built as an anchor to pull you forward.

Maker:  I make no guarantees this will work.

Circe:  I want a signed guarantee, or I ain't going.

 

Pops:  I have an idea.  Let's build a planet-cracking bomb and send it back in time.  If there's no Earth, there's no place for the Mi-Go to mess around with!

GM:  That might make things difficult for you guys moving forward.

Honey Badger:  Yeah.  The Earth is where I keep all my stuff.

 

Their plan ready, the heroes travel back in time.

 

GM:  Everybody make a CON roll at -3. 

Circe:  If we miss, do we puke?

GM:  Yep.  Time travel isn't for the faint of heart... or the tender of tummy.

 

Circe and Malarkey miss their rolls by one, and Nexus misses her roll by three.

 

Circe:  While I'm trying to keep from throwing up, can I still dodge Nexus' projectile vomiting?

 

More to come...

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The heroes appeared over an odd-looking "village."

 

GM:  The, for want of a better word, "buildings" are mainly globular, though some are cylindrical.  The globular ones look like giant bubbles of tar, some of which have merged, and then dried quickly. 

Maker:  Ewwww...

Circe:  (pointing at one Mi-Go building consisting of a large bubble  merged with two smaller ones)  I say we check out the Mickey Mouse one.

 

I place Mi-Go counters all over the map - easily over a dozen.

 

Circe:  Who has extra XP? 

Nexus:  Why?

Circe:  Maybe we can talk the GM into letting us spend them to put a laser turret on this ship.

GM:  First off, you can't retroactively spend XP.  And second, you don't need to, because the ship already has a laser turret.

 

Shadow Boxer:  I'm going to fire the laser turret at one of the Mi-Go.

GM:  The controls aren't back where you are.  They're up front.  Either Nexus or Circe can operate it.

Shadow Boxer:  Both of whom are either throwing up, or trying to keep from throwing up.  Can I move Circe out of her seat and take her place?

GM:  Do you really need to do that?  I mean, don't you have stretching?

Shadow Boxer:  (grins)  True.

 

Pops:  So are we just going to hover here and pick off the Mi-Go with the laser turret?

Circe:  Not a bad idea, but I'm worried that they'll take out our ride home.

GM:  As you say that, one of the Soldier Mi-Go aims his staff at the ship.  Since it's fairly big, he'll put two of his levels toward increasing damage.  (rolls)  And your ship takes a hit.  Not a lot of damage through, but you don't want to take a lot of those.

Maker:  Yeah, I'm setting the autopilot to fly off and then come back to get us in an hour.

 

As the heroes prepare to disembark, a Mi-Go Leader uses Mind Scan to lock onto Shadow Boxer.

 

Nexus:  At least he picked one of the few of us with really good mental defense.

GM:  Is it safe to assume you're all Mind Linked?  So you all know that the Mi-Go has a lock on Shadow Boxer?

Circe:  Yep.

GM:  Circe, as a mentalist, you realize that if you get a mental lock on someone who is part of a Mind Link, you can then target anybody that person is Mind Linked to.

Nexus:  Eep!

 

Shadow Boxer:  You know, all that Leader really did is put up a big flashing sign saying, "Attack Here First".

 

Thanks to Pops, the heroes (minus Honey Badger, who had already leaped out of the ship) teleport into the Mi-Go building where the Leader is. 

 

GM:  Just so everyone knows, Malarkey hasn't been able to give you all Stoneskin yet. 

Nexus:  Why not?

Shadow Boxer (playing Malarkey's character since that player got stuck working):  Because he's still too busy trying not to puke.

 

They find the Leader with three Scientists and a half-dozen Soldiers, plus a swarm of Workers.  The battle is joined, with the heroes concentrating on the Soldier Mi-Go.

 

GM:  This scientist plays with a box hanging on him, and all of the Mi-Go there begin to glow.  While that one moves over here and fires off his molecular disassembly gun.

Maker:  (looking at how three of the heroes are lined up in front of the Mi-Go scientist) Is that the one that fires in a line?  The lethal one?

Pops:  They're all lethal.  Every damn thing they have.

 

The attack (4d6 RKA, AP, AoE Line) causes BODY damage and a good chunk of STUN damage to all three heroes.   A Phase later, Pops teleports one of the Mi-Go outside the building.

 

GM:  This one?  The solider?
Pops:  Yeah.

GM:  (shrug) Okay, just checking.

 

Shadow Boxer continues grabbing Soldiers, along with the Leader, using his shadow pseudopods (Extra Limbs with Stretching), while others take out one of the Scientists. 

 

GM:  This one?  The one who gave his fellow Mi-Go extra defenses?

Maker:  Yes.

GM:  (shrug)  Okay, just checking.

 

Unrestrained and not attacked yet, the Scientist with the molecular disassembler moves so three of the heroes are lined up and fires again.  Circe (who was hit with both shots) is now nearly at 0 BODY, and several others are down 3-5 BODY apiece.

 

GM:  I thought it was odd that nobody seems to think this guy's a threat.

 

More to come...

 

 

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Pathfinder : The Mummy's Mask - Death and Taxes
In which the Covenant of Wati explore the probably haunted home of a long-dead taxman, looking for things we can loot. With permission, of course - from people who weren’t born for centuries after the late Pentheru, and probably aren’t related in any way. Not only does the place have a high enclosing wall, but the main building itself looks pretty defensible - but then, he was a taxman.

We check the outbuildings first. As Onka, Asrian, and Nemat explain to Zenobia, it’s good tactics to rule out nasty surprises later, in case we have to leave the main building in a hurry.

Nemat: Sometimes what you’re running away from is less important than what you’re running towards.

One of the outbuildings is the family tomb, complete with dire imprecations against tomb robbers.

Zenobia: The usual, then.

There doesn’t seem to be any way to open it from the outside, which is a bit odd if they ever intended to put more family members inside. Maybe it’s full. Eventually we try pushing, and it opens easily.

All: *sigh*

Nemat: Wait, this was the outhouse - I mean outbuilding. Of course maybe it IS the outhouse and we’re about to be crapped on.

He’s right too - just like the last time we opened a tomb, we’re attacked from behind by a giant carnivorous arthropod - in this case a whiptail centipede about 8 meters long. It had been lurking in the dried up ornamental pool.

Zenobia: Does this thing nip down to the river to eat crocodiles????

Excitement ensues, including ear-piercing screams from Nemat. Of course the screaming is also a sonic attack spell, which helpfully both hurts the beast and expresses Nemat’s opinion of giant bugs. The centipede is intelligent enough to try and run away when it starts getting hurt, but probably wasn’t expecting Asrian to pursue it up the wall and put an arrow through its head. Alas, Zenobia is too slow to help her crush back down from the top of the wall. Cue sad gnoll.

We head down into the tomb, with Nemat’s IOUN stone orbiting his head by way of illumination.

Nemat: I have to say, it must be annoying trying to read by IOUN stone.

There are - of course - carved and armed figures around the room at the bottom of the stairs. It’s also full of corpses.

Nemat: That’s an important thing to know.
Asrian: Also the first thing we’re likely to notice.

Most of the corpses are naked, and mummified only by age and desert heat. There’s ONE linen-wrapped body up on the altar, but it’s not in a sarcophagus. Nemat investigates the rest of the bodies, cautiously, and it appears they’re mostly peasants armed with simple tools.

Asrian: That taxman must have been REALLY unpopular.

Nemat starts a forensic sketch of the scene.

GM: sketchsketchsketch... Sketchsketch sketch… why has that mummy moved?

The mummy on the altar is not only moving, it has a few pitchfork spikes and cheap knives sticking out of it.

Asrian: REALLY unpopular taxman.

The mummy isn’t hissing in in Ancient Osirion, either - it’s Aklo, the language of Aboleths, Gibbering Mouthers, and other things that Really Shouldn’t Exist.

Asrian: This guy was into some BAD SHIT.

It grabs at Nemat - and then its bandages start wrapping around HIM. At least he manages to hold the bandages off his face long-enough to scream “use fire!!!’ Of course, he still thinks it’s your normal mummy. Asrian realises it’s actually an Adherer after her flaming scimitars nearly stick to it. Adherers are the descendants of the once-human livestock of Phase Spiders. Happily, setting it on fire is still a good idea. Let’s hope Nemat is as fireproof as Asrian. Zenobia throws a flask-full of Keros Oil at the thing, which doesn’t quite ignite but DOES dissolve the glue holding the ‘bandages’ to Nemat. Which gives him to opportunity to cast Resistance to Fire on himself, pull a flask of Alchemical Fire from his own belt, and grapple the thing back.

Nemat: The Gods expect us to be heroic, now and then.

And then Asrian hits it with her flaming scimitars again, and it’s well and truly ablaze - especially after the scuffle shatters Nemat’s flask and splashes the rest of the Alchemist’s Fire all over the place.

Nemat: Ow. F**K! That hurt!

Although it certainly seems to hurt the Adherer worse, and we all learn what “OW, F**k, FUCK OW” is in Aklo. And Zenobia manages to decapitate the thing so we find out that CHOP THUMP is the same in every language.

Nemat considers the evidence, and the facts about Adherers that Asrian can provide. Adherers certainly don’t live for centuries, so it can’t be responsible for all the bodies in here, despite the pitchfork evidence.

Nemat: … That sneaky f**k - it REALLY wanted us to think it was an actual mummy!

Nemat checks all the bodies again, but all he can determine is that the better-dressed corpses had been beaten and brutalised savagely, and then all the less snappy dressers died suddenly from something that didn’t leave visible wounds. So let’s head deeper into the tomb and find out what that was.

Zenobia: No wonder that centipede was hanging around, it could probably smell all the bodies down here.
Nemat: …. Remind me to close the tomb door when we leave.

The rest of the tomb seems to be of standard layout, so despite the Adherer pretending to be the occupant of the mezzanine level, Pentheru’s family are probably interred down here somewhere.

Zenobia: At least all that proved the caryatid statues weren’t animated.
Nemat: True.

Zenobia big gnoll ears hear something meowing. And then everybody hears lots of meowing. And then we’re mobbed by a swarm of undead kittens.

Zenobia: They’re adorable! And horrible.

 
 

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Champions: Return To Edge City - Won't Somebody Think of the Children?
Quadrant! AKA The Usual Gang of Idiots!

Fireflash: Teen queen with flight and light powers. Studying accountancy.
Flux: Secretive technomage.
Hardlight: Half-arsed hybrid of Iron Man and Green Lantern.
Hero Shrew: Scooter Sorex, an anthropomorphic Hero Shrew, with superhuman strength, resilience, and willingness to fight anything. Just like non-anthropomorphic shrews.


Scooter missed the last session, which probably is just as well, since the villains of the week were Moreaus. Specifically, a tiger with electrical powers, and a bear with kinetic absorption and fancy gauntlets. If Scooter had been there, it would have gone down like this -

Thunder: Come on bro, fight me!
Hero Shrew: WOOO! *throws himself into the fray, and punches the bar as hard as he can*
Thunder: *absorbs the power of the punch, and goes up several levels in the Threat Assessment*
Somebody: Scooter, stop punching him, you’re only making him stronger!
Hero Shrew: Whoops.

Still, Flux, Hardlight, and Fireflash DID stop them from getting away with all the jewels they were stealing.

GM: Yes, street-level superheroes foiling a gem heist - I have to hit classic plots sometime.

Hero Shrew: I wonder where they were going to hide?
GM: In the Zoo. ‘What did the criminals look like?’ ‘A bear and a tiger’
Hero Shrew: Fair enough - and it’s not like the other Moreaus would be inclined to dob them in to the authorities.

Hero Shrew: So you fought a bear and a tiger last week?
GM: But no lion.
Flux: The lion was the getaway driver, obviously.

Apparently one of them did say ‘Think of the children!’ when the other said they should bug out. Assuming that wasn’t a joke, it will probably be important later. And they DID leave behind a helmet with ‘Sanctum Vitae’ written inside, and an odd partial logo resembling an Ouroboros on it. It probably isn’t the defunct holistic healing centre also in California.

GM: It means Life is Sacred. Don’t any of you have Latin on your character sheet?
Hero Shrew: No, I’ve never Latted.

GM: You could always go check the healing center anyway, in the Quadmacoptersub.
Flux: I’m sorry, the what now?
GM: You never decided on a name for the team vehicle, so f**k you.
Flux: Hey, Firelash wanted to call it the Quadraphibious Qruiser.

Flux: I’m after suggestions from our fearless leader.
Fireflash: I’m not the leader!
Hero Shrew: Oooh, oooh, can I be?
GM: Technically, it’s him. *points at Hardlight*
Hardlight: Yes, I’m the leader, I just delegate everything to you three.

One odd thing about the attempted theft - they were targeting only jewellry with gemstones, instead of precious metals only - metals would be much easier to melt down and sell. But Hero Shrew can’t think of any Moreaus that eat gemstones.

Hardlight: Nobody’s being trying to genetically engineer My Little Pony dragons, have they?

Flux: Hardlight is a small fish in a big pond.
GM: Well, maybe not small. He’s still a significant business owner, he’s just not a shark.
Hero Shrew: He’s a medium-sized Groper. Why do we let him hang around a schoolgirl again?
Hardlight: Hey, Flux isn’t a schoolgirl anymore!

There have been two other similar thefts over the last few months, of gem shipments, where the security cameras were mysteriously shorted out before the break-in. Lightning powers, maybe? The fact that different distribution companies and recipients were involved in all cases adds to the puzzle. Flux’s attempt to identify the tiger from his stripes comes up against the problem that they were fighting at night, and Moreaus use fur dye.

Hero Shrew: So you were fighting the tiger at night? What colour was it? ‘Black’

Hero Shrew DOES stumble across a possible clue, until he realises he’s being given the runaround. Still it might prove vital.

GM: Geez, why do you have to do this to me? I was hoping you’d fuck it up, like you usually do.

Meanwhile, Fireflash does what she can to locate any odd children-related purchases.

Hardlight: She’s making a spreadsheet.
Fireflash: It’s what I do - I’m GOOD at spreadsheets.
Hero Shrew: So, who’s buying nappies with tailholes?

Any Moreau infants at all would be quite unusual, given the birthrate in the community in the last 15 years - which is zero. Hardlight points out that since we interrupted their theft, there’s a good chance they’ll try again. Especially if there’s some urgent children-related reason for the theft.

Hardlight: I have to add Undersconsin to the conspiracy diagram. But I don’t where to put the red strings.
GM: THIS IS NOT AN UNDERSCONSIN PLOT.
Flux: But if it WAS an Undersconsin plot, that’s just what you’d say.
Hero Shrew: Undersconsin would have it’s own gems, anyway.
GM: Well, duh - like the elusive yellow Cheese Emerald.

Flux: Don’t forget to put Lupus in the corner of the diagram.
GM: It’s never Lupus.

The fact that both the burglars had superpowers, AND those powers were unrelated to their animal heritage, makes them quite unusual, too.

The Board of Confusion

Hardlight: Imagine it’s all floating holograms.

GM: Hero Shrew works three jobs and he’s still only poor. But then he breaks a lot of stuff.
Flux: Being a superhero just means you break more expensive stuff.

GM: Scooter can’t just shake people down for info. For one thing it would given them concussion.
Hero Shrew: And it would get reported on Fox News as Furry-on-Furry violence.

We patrol! Or three of do anyway - Flux and Scooter airborne in the Qruiser. And Hardlight spots the wanted Moreaus, using a pair of big holographic pince-nez for telescopic vision. The two burglars are talking to a human woman that looks like she escaped from a Big Eyes Small Mouth sourcebook. She’s also quite heavily armed, with at least four firearms and a whip on her hip. And her motorbike is unregistered.

Hero Shrew: What are the rules about Open Carry in California?
Fireflash: Non-existent.
Flux: So heavily armed and unregistered vehicle. Thats enough to arrest her for right there.

Hardlight tries to remain invisible and inconspicuous, as he flies down to try and get within earshot, and fails at both, but fortunately the trio aren’t looking up.

Mystery Irishwoman: It’s not my problem that you didn’t make the heist, you owe me for those gauntlets, and one way or the other you’re going to pay.
Fireflash: Illegal arms trading - major felony. Let’s get her.

They call Scooter first - missing this fight too would hurt his feelings, and his boss at the Collar Club is understanding about sudden calls from his other, OTHER job.

Hardlight: Phonecalls are a free action.
Google Mini: OK
All players: LOL
Flux: And the Google Mini steals the show again.

Irish Arms-trader: You need to pull up your big boy pants, and get what you owe me.
Moreaus: *actually keeping their voices low, instead of loudly giving away the conversation to anybody that might be eavesdropping*

The Arms-trader gets onto her Heavy Metal motorbike, and prepares to leave with a roar of engine and flame. Fireflash intervenes.

Fireflash: Good evening, lady and gentlemen - pleasure surrender, or we will be forced to render you unconscious.
Irish Arms-trader: You FOOKING Gooberbrains - you let them follow you! Well hello there Fireflash, I’m Guilt-rider. These two are Lightning and Thunder, who you’ve already met, but I would like to know where your try-hard and poser friends are. Doesn’t matter - I brought my own back-up anyway. Meet IRON MAIDEN!

The stealth field drops from around the enormous metal robot on the neighbouring roof.

Hardlight: Oh dear. Is calling the Edge City PD for back-up a free action?

Iron Maiden blasts the only-now-arriving Hero Shrew, and accidentally includes the invisible Hardlight, with a dazzling spotlight.

GM: Scooter, you don’t get to see what happens next, because you’re dazzled. ‘Why can I hear tearing metal I haven’t started hitting anything yet!’

Guilt-rider roars off on her motorbike and a literal trail of fire - and uses her whip - an exceptionally ugly hooked and barbed weapon - on Scooter as she goes past.

Guilt-rider: I’ve always wanted to use this on a Moreau.

The Whip of Pain half-incapacitates Scooter with agony, so it’s lucky Thunder is still charging up his weapons and can’t immediately knock Scooter’s block off. Instead leaps several stories into the air instead - when he comes back down he’ll pick up a lot of kinetic energy. Scooter lunges blindly after the criminal on the bike, but misses.

Flux: I could the drop the Qruiser on them, but…
GM: You’ve only just finished refurbishing it :D

Hardlight manages to catch Guilt-rider and her self-guided flaming motorbike Growler in a spherical cage.

Hardlight: WHEEL OF DEATH!

Growler rears up instead, and smashes its way out of the cage.

Hardlight: Well, f**k.
GM: To be fair, if it couldn't break out it would have just gone around and around the Wheel of Death for fun.

Iron Maiden is doing stuff too, which half of us can’t see since we’re still dazzled. Whatever it is it’s unlikely to be helpful for us. And then Guilt-rider shoots Scooter with one of her shotguns. It hurts, because it somehow blasted Scooter across the street and into a building.

Lightning, the electric tiger, does the smart thing.

Lightning: Thunder! Get up! We’re leaving!
Thunder: We are?
Fireflash: Not right now. *blinds Thunder with her own flash attack, and Lightning’s nightvision makes them just as vulnerable*

They still manage to run off into the dark alleyways. Flux tests the theory that many power-armoured supers are vulnerable to electricity, by trying to locate and fry Iron Maiden. Myth busted.

GM: There’s a string of what you presume is Gaelic swearing when Guilt-rider realises Thunder and Lightning are bugging out.
Guilt-rider: I wanted to play with the poser, but then those two decide to bug out. So - later!

She, the motorbike, and Iron Maiden all turn invisible. At least that means the GM gets to bring them back as recurring villains.

GM: You’re now met your evil opposites - they call themselves Sector.
Hero Shrew Oo? Of COURSE they do. So, we have nemesisesess now?
GM: Nah, just evil opposites. For some superteams, the evil opposites are just ‘those guys we beat up on a regular basis’.

What have we learned, after this encounter? That there’s yet another supplier of supertech weapons hanging around Edge City. And she has some kind of flying mecha named Iron Maiden as extra muscle.

Hero Shrew: What, another one? There must be at least three supervillains that call themselves that.

Her autonomous motorbike is a pain in the arse too. But at least we know she’s the one that wants the gems, as payment for whatever she’s built for Thunder and Lightning, the bear and tiger Moreaus.

Hardlight: Maybe I should put out an ad looking for bears and tigers.
Hero Shrew: …. Well, you might plenty of responses for the first bit. But not the kind of bears you’re looking for, I reckon.

Guilt-rider did drop her enhanced shotgun after Fireflash half-stunned her.

GM: You’ve all had enough police training to assess evidence now.
Hero Shrew: Well, I think it’s some kind of gun.

Flux: Thunder and Lightning must have gone to ground.
Hero Shrew: Just call them Donner and Blitzen.
Hardlight: But they aren’t deer.
Hero Shrew: Yeah? What’s Donner und Blitzen in English?
Fireflash: Thunder and Lightning. Anyway, I need to talk to my police contacts.
Hero Shrew: And I’d better ask around the Moreau community to see if anybody has seen a bear and a tiger. They may be disguised as reindeer.
GM: What???? … this is what happens when things get filtered through Scooter’s brain. Or the mass of mealworms that passes for it.

Apparently Guilt-rider labelled her air-blasting shotgun a ‘Windchester’.

Hero Shrew: That’s just painful. Even to me.

It also seems to be powered by gemstones, which Flux find extremely interesting, and provokes a stream of arcanobabble from him. No wonder Guilt-rider called Flux ‘the poser’.

Hero Shrew: What did she call me?
Fireflash: I don’t want to repeat it.
GM: Uncle Tom.
Fireflash OoC: That was Thunder and Lightning.
GM: So it was - Guilt-rider called you ‘Token’
Fireflash: But she didn’t call me anything.
GM: She probably hasn’t decided what she doesn’t like about you yet.

Anyway, Flux excitedly adds the same enhancements to a triple-barrel shotgun he found in the team’s adopted lab. Concerns about recoil seep into his mind, eventually.

Flux: …. Maybe we should test this outside.

The emeralds are also enchanted to act as their own battery meter.

Hero Shrew: Are they supposed to be glowing like that? *backs away to a safe distance*

Flux: So these weapons are crystal powered. Like you are, Hardlight.
Hero Shrew: I’m mealworm-powered.
Flux: We know, we can smell you.

GM: Imagine what Guilt-rider could do with one of the famous gems. The Hope Diamond would be a gigantic curse battery, for one thing.
Hero Shrew Oo? The important question is ‘What could she do with an Undersconsin Cheese Emerald?’
GM: Keep that up and I’ll put together an Undersconsin just to inflict on you.
Hardlight Oo? We’re kinda hoping for that, actually.
GM: NO.

Hero Shrew eventually realises how odd it is that NOBODY wants to talk to about Thunder and Lightning. Usually somebody will want to gossip, at least. He goes to complain about this to a con artist fox he knows.

Nick: You’re not exactly known for being about to keep things under your hat, Scoots.
Hero Shrew: ….I don’t even have a hat.
Nick: And that right there is part of the problem, Scoots - idiom, Scoots, idiom.

Nick: You’ve got a good job there, and nobody wants to make you have to choose. Give it a few weeks and it’ll all be out of our hands. Why are you even asking around anyway?
Hero Shrew: They seem to be getting sucked in pretty deep with this Guilt-rider woman, and she’s not very nice. She said she wanted to use that electric barbwire whip on a Moreau, and it hurt.
Nick: Hmm. Why are they hanging with her anyway?
Hero Shrew: Apparently she’s making superweapons for them, and they need to pay her back?
Nick: What do they need weapons for, they’re Steiners?
Hero Shrew: *Internal Thinks* Well, isn’t that interesting - the only other people I’ve heard mention Steiners were those Genesys dog-soldiers.
Hero Shrew: Oh, you’ve heard of Steiners? Apparently I’m one. Where’d you hear the name?
Nick: *professional vulpine liar* Uh, somewhere around the place, it’s not important. Why’d they even get mixed up with this human anyway, do you know?
Hero Shrew: Apparently they’re doing it for the children.
Nick: *visibly starts, and looks around nervously*
Hero Shrew: Which even I thought was weird, since Moreaus don’t have any.
Nick: ….God DAMN those idiots… I can’t tell you anything, Scoots, I’m a face. If they find out I talked to you about this it’d ruin my rep. Stop poking around about this, or they really will think you’re an Uncle Tom.

Scooter heads off to report this interesting conversation to the rest of Quadrant.

Hero Shrew: They don’t trust me to keep my mouth shut about stuff.
Fireflash: That I comprehend.
Flux: We feel their pain.
Hero Shrew: Apparently it’s all going to be over one way or the other in a few months, so if we can wait until then they’ll probably tell me everything.
Fireflash: Yeah, no.

Flux: So, the Moreaus are being cagey… sorry, bad choice of words.

Flux: Well, nobody will care much if the Moreaus DO start having children.
GM: HAHAHAHAHA
Hero Shrew: The first reaction that occurs to me is Humanity First having a collective fit, because ‘the Moreaus are BREEDING now’.

We go on patrol - Hero Shrew and Flux in the Qruiser, and Hardlight and Fireflash flying overhead.

Fireflash: The rational and the irrational.

Hardlight and Fireflash promptly spot Thunder and Lightning stopping a goods vehicle - by stepping in front of it and letting Thunder absorb all the kinetic energy of the impact. Hardlight calls for back-up, while Lightning is blasting the doors off the back of the vehicle. Fireflash just flies down and blasts him in the back. Lightning is punched into the back of the truck, hard - and Fireflash notices that this truck has refrigerated cargo space, instead of gem crates.

Hardlight grabs the dazed Lightning in a big glowing holographic fist, and flies off at speed. Lightning recovers, shorts out Hardlight’s holographic flying surfboard, and discovers that Hardlight’s big glowing holographic fist runs off a different circuit. Both plummet screaming out of the sky.

Back on the ground, Fireflash pulls out the big guns herself - a point-blank fusion blast, specially for Thunder.

Things progress, with Hardlight managing to salvage the situation and somehow coming out on top. And all this before Flux and Hero Shrew can even arrive - not that it’ll help Scooter’s reputation with his community, though. Still, at least Hardlight can be happy.

Hardlight: Yay! My plan actually worked!
GM: This is when the alternative-Earth imposter staggers out and says ‘He’s an imposter! He came up with a plan that actually worked!’

 

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GM: "Without warning, the spear-point of a lengthy knife erupts from Adhrass' abdomen. Little blood manages to splash onto the marble below before an explosion of blue-white frost from within freezes the impending geyser and fills the wound. That's 63 damage. I need you to...

PLAYER: "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold on! This armor he's wearing protects him from critical hits and sneak attack damage. Doesn't it help?"

GM: "...yeah. It was 84 damage. Fortunately for you, it's now a measly 63."

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Our Heroes:

Amon-Ra: Archaeologist who found an artifact that is a conduit to an ancient god.

Diamondback: Exposure to a strange crystal gave her immense strength and durability.

Double-Time!: Given incredible running speed during a lab accident.

Faceless: FBI agent with the ability to assume the shape of any person he sees.

Ka-Pow!: 17 year old boxer and mechanic who's a bit more than human.

Professor Polar: Discoverer of "cold energy".

Shard: Exposed to the same crystal as Diamondback, but instead has the ability to grow and control similar crystals.

Tarraingteacht: Agent Carter's skills with Polaris's powers.

Zoltan the Magnificent: Stage magician who also knows real magic.

 

***

 

Zoltan -- We're as clandestine as a bomb that goes off in your headquarters.

 

***

 

Prof Polar -- I’m pretty sure that if I keep messing with that generator, I can probably blow it up, which is probably what they’re afraid of.

Zoltan -- I’m a little afraid of that too.

Shard -- I wanna blow it up.

Zoltan -- Nooo.

Diamondback -- Not while we’re in here.

 

***

 

Double Time! -- Use geometry in a sentence.  An acorn wakes up one morning and says, “Gee, I’m a tree.”

Whole Group -- Groans and sounds of pain.

GM -- And, on the utterance of that joke, the whole group takes. . .

Zoltan -- Noooo!  Just him! Just him!

GM [rolls dice] -- . . . 10 Stun.

Double-Time! -- NND, defense is lack of ears or lack of an IQ above 5.

 

***

 

Zoltan [to Terraigntacht] -- We’re going to have to Americanize your name.  You’re now “Daring Duck.” [of course, the name stuck for the whole evening]

 

***

 

Diamondback -- My sister is annoying, but you don’t get to shoot at her.

 

***

 

GM -- Her magnetic powers are really going to screw with a hand-held walkie.

Prof Polar [OOC] -- Until you pay points for it. . . {Inigo Montoya}. . . which I have.{/Inigo Montoya}.

 

***

 

After all the heat-ray damage, players started referring to Amon-Ra as Amon-Well-Done.

 

***

 

Zoltan -- The teeny one.

GM -- The 40 foot tall teeny one.

Zoltan -- Perspective is an amazing thing.

 

***


Faceless [OOC] -- You can’t use a lead pipe to kill somebody.  Don’t you know that you could get lead poisoning?

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GM: It’s generally accepted that the cetacean Moreaus all headed out to sea and never came back. They might even think they’re still being hunted.
Hero Shrew: So basically, No, there isn’t a supply of GMO ambergris out there.

Fireflash: ‘Face the wrath of a truly EVOLVED dinosaur!’
Monster: BKAW!
Flux: ‘Is that a thirty-foot chicken?’

Hero Shrew was only peripherally involved in the capture, hospitalisation, and intimidation of the Moreau super-crooks Thunder and Lightning, so hopefully he’ll be off the hook for retaliation from his fellow GMOs. Still...

GM: So, who wants to catch Scooter up on the situation?
Hardlight: Sure! Basically, Babies! You’re going to have to start wearing a condom, Scooter. Not that you’ve ever got to fourth base as far as I know.
Flux: Scooter’s love life aside, one of the girls at Madam Lil’s got pregnant.

Apparently Genesys fitted all their products with chemical birth control implants, and those implants are finally wearing off. And the police would quite like Thunder to stay in protective custody, because the Moreau community are going to PISSED that he spilled the beans. Usually the ECPD hand Moreau crooks back over to their community for punishment, because they anticipate Moreaus getting human rights eventually, and they have enough problems with the human gangs, without extra trouble from people that aren’t legally people yet.

GM: So we need you, Scooter, to persuade him to stay in custody.
Hero Shrew: …. Uhh…
Flux: Yes, we need you to be the Face.
Hero Shrew: Well. OK then. ‘The cops would like you to stay in custody for a while, but I don’t know why. I mean, I think it’s great that I might be a dad some day, but the rest of the Zoo don’t want people to know for some reason?’
GM: *sigh*
Hardlight: They don’t want people to know for the same reason I’m making a plan. We don’t want this situation to turn into a bloodbath and the Zoo on fire.
GM: And Humanity First are the moderates.
Flux: Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuu-

We now have to think about what the various organisations and gangs will think about the news. Even the Sanity Liberation Front (basically hactivists with bombs) are going to a problem, because if the news gets out the SLF will have the news worldwide within minutes.

GM: The Human Supremacy Front are the reason nobody wears the Vitruvian Man around Edge City. Because they use it as a tag.
Fireflash: Assholes.

And the violent ultra-right Christians they hang around with are worse.

And the political fallout will be significant too. The question of granting human status to Moreaus could have been put off indefinitely, and in a few decades would have been irrelevant went they all died of old age, but now Moreau reproduction will put a rocket under the issue. Some groups (the Chinese government, for one) are all in favour of granting them the franchise, but there are also plenty of vested interests that do not want another bloc added to the mix.

GM: They’ll hire an alligator poolboy, but they don’t want him to vote.

Hero Shrew: On the bright side, so far only us and the ECPD know you blabbed. Well, and Guilt-rider too, somehow. Maybe you could tell us where to find her, and shut down that possible leak?
Thunder: I’m not going to grass on Guilt-rider! She and that merc she hangs about with are BAD NEWS.
Hero Shrew: Yeah, you probably don’t want her AND the entire Moreau community on your arse.

Thunder: If Tommy V finds out about this I’m dead.
Hero Shrew: What, that springbok guy, really likes baseball bats? It’s not his kid, is it?
Thunder: Jeez, I hope not.
Hero Shrew: Why do you think he’ll be angry with you?
Thunder: I’m in HOSPITAL, in POLICE CUSTODY, HELPING WITH THEIR INQUIRIES, and it’s TOMMY FUCKING V, WHAT DO YOU THINK??? But it’s probably not his kid, he always prefered the cowgirl.
All: *consider the picture of the cowgirl in question*
Hero Shrew: Well then. Ms. Frequent Back Pain, I see
Fireflash: There’s a reason she does most of her work lying down..

GM: Who’s he in the most danger from?
Flux: Right now? The police, mostly.
GM: And you’ve talked him into staying in police custody. Well done.
Hero Shrew: He thinks he’s in trouble with lots of people, including Tommy V.
Flux: Who?
Hero Shrew: That springbok that likes to work with baseball bats?
GM: He doesn’t LIKE to, but people keep making him.
Flux: ‘I’m just trying to make a living and people like you keep disrespecting me’.

GM: If I wanted to use your Weirdness Magnet, I’d have the Nazis launch their attack from their hidden moon-base.

Which probably explains one of those Greys, waiting for us in a hoodie, next to the Qruiser.

Hardlight: Oh, hi, how are you guys?
Grey: Our world is being invaded.
Flux: … That’s not good.
Grey: Minds wrapped in iron. Minds of hate. They’re heading into Chinatown. Through the tunnels.
Flux: Oh god, we’re fighting in the sewers again.
Hardlight: Everybody in! We’re heading to Chinatown! Maximum Warp!
Hero Shrew: Make it so!
GM: Did you buy lights and sirens for the Qruiser?
Hardlight: …. No?

We drive a legal speed to Chinatown - Flux and Fireflash fly, because it’s faster. We head into the utility tunnels, where Hardlight’s radar sense picks up mysterious figures through the wall. And some of those figures are apparently solid, four meters tall, and turned towards towards the radar.

Flux: Oh fearless leader, what do your elf eyes see?
GM: Good question - all the rest of you have heard over the intercom is “Um. Well, it’s not Nazi garbage monsters” and a click. And they’re Kool-aiding it through the wall now anyway.

It’s four suits of big silver power armour and eight people in black suits.

Hero Shrew: Woohoo! Big guys! I can hit those! *flying tackles the nearest*

The armour goes down hard.

Fireflash: So… good defences, but not GREAT defences.
Hero Shrew: He probably wasn’t expecting to be tackled to the ground by a 5ft tall shrew.
Fireflash: Does anybody?

Bad Guy: Finally I get to tangle with some freaks! *shoots Scooter with some kind of plasma cannon*
Hero Shrew: Hey! That stings!

It rapidly becomes apparent that these guys REALLY haven’t tangled with ‘freaks’ before, because Flux almost managed to break free of an Entangle attack with his merely human strength, and Hardlight’s more explosive powers would make short work of more of them - if he hadn’t somehow managed to miss multiple targets in a confined space with an area attack.

GM: It’s a gift. I seriously have to stat this out as a disadvantage ‘Played by Muskie’

Flux: Scooter looks pissed.
Hero Shrew: Pissed is the natural state of shrews.

The guys in suits extend the rods they’re carrying, activate force fields, and go after Hardlight.

Hero Shrew: Great! If they’re that close you can drop an area-effect attack on your own feet.
Flux: And probably kill himself.
GM: Actually, his powers only ever make him look like an idiot. It’s his decisions that could get him killed.

Hero Shrew and Fireflash finish off the other two tin cans - the former punching his a hundred feet or so back down the utility tunnel.

Flux: You should punch things more often - you’re wasted doing fancy things like ‘tackle’.
Hero Shrew: Yeah, but in the old days I couldn’t just punch things, because everything was a squishy human.
GM: That was a squishy human too.
Hero Shrew: *shrugs*

Hero Shrew: *looking around at the various unconscious Humanity First members* Well, I was hoping I’d get to say ‘Which one is our informant?’ before we knocked them all out.

 

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The House of Flying Headbones

In which the Covenant of Wati continue their archeological assessment of a very thoroughly haunted house, and the gnoll Zenobia deals with her crush on the dervish Asrian.

I missed the last session, because I was stalking numbats a few hundred kilometers out of Perth, so missed the demise of undead kitten horde, more giant bugs, an unusually intelligent sand elemental, and so on. It's been a long day. At least Nemat, who had predicted lots of undead in these tombs and buildings, finally got some satisfaction.

Nemat Ooc: Well, Zenobia just slaughtered a kid and their parents.
Zenobia OoC: what species?
Nemat OoC: Human.
Zenobia OoC: oh dear
Nemat OoC: Well, they had let themselves go. Hyper-emaciated, really.
Zenobia OoC: ah - mercy killing then

They were undead skeletons.

Nemat: Oh, and we found something nice for you - this golden holy symbol of Sarenrae.

We also find a welcoming inscription in the atrium of the main building, surrounded by bodies.

GM: But they’ve long-since disintegrated.
Zenobia: Like that means anything, these days.

The bodies shrug off the dust of centuries and pick up their weapons.

Zenobia: *sigh*
Onka: Well, we predicted a trap if we came in through the front door, and we were right.
Zenobia: But a welcoming inscription and undead guardians? That’s just rude.
Asrian: Maybe they were house guards that died at their post.

Given the hallucinatory sounds of battle that Nemat hears as he moves in, Asrian is probably right. Asrian and Nemat deal with the first, and Zenobia explodes the second with the blessings of Sarenrae.

Zenobia: Hopefully whoever these were will go on to whatever awaits them in the afterlife.
Nemat: Eh, doubtful, these were spontaneous undead. Wait, these were household guard, weren’t they? F**k, this could be bad.

Nemat paces and thinks aloud, about what the implications of restless spontaneous undead means, despite the blessing the cult of Pharasma cast over the Necropolis to stop that very thing happening.

Zenobia: *proud of her friend’s erudition* Look, he’s lecturing again.

Nemat gets the rest of us to help interr the dead properly - dying on duty and just being left to rot where they lay would be enough to piss off anybody. And death, rot and piss also helps describe the stench in the main dining room, where polished human skulls have been stacked on goblets, on silver platters.

Onka: Charming.
Skulls: *levitate, cackle, and attack*
Asrian: Flying headbones. How Wonderful.
Nemat: Zenobia, you’re up.

The fear-inducing screeching, and acid spit, is a problem. Asrian obliterates most of them with one of her own spells. The rest don’t last much longer. At least the smell dissipates.

Zenobia: Nemat, was this another spontaneous haunt or did somebody set this up?
Nemat: Uh, um…. Probably set up.

But hundreds of years ago, or yesterday? The lack of dust is not a clue, either.

Nemat: All it takes is an Unseen Servant to dust the room every day.
Onka: They probably buried an enchanted brick in the foundations as a focus for the spell.

We poke around cautiously, Zenobia finding most of the more interesting trinkets.

Asrian: She’s my seeing eye dog.

Zenobia finds a ring - and gets the distinct impression that someone is breathing on her neck.

Zenobia: Is that you, Asrian?
Asrian: … no?
Zenobia: Is anybody else behind me right now?
Nemat: No?
Zenobia: I think we have a problem.

Nemat confirms that the ring is haunted, evil, chaotic, and magical. It’s also inscribed, in Ancient Osiriani, to one Ariseti. Then we all get to enjoy a flashback to an ancient marriage proposal, and cross-river romance, and the ring being misplaced, all at the onset of the Plague of Madness. Fancy history for a Ring of Protection +1

Nemat: It would appear the ring needs to be given as a genuine token of love and affection, as it was originally intended. That should remove the haunt.
Zenobia: *goes very quiet and blushes under her fur, and tries not to look at Asrian*
Onka: Well, we’ll pass it along to the priests later, and see if they can deal with it.
Zenobia: Yes! Let’s do that!

Zenobia distracts herself from romantic thoughts about the dervish, by looking for traps upstairs. Unfortunately for her composure, Asrian helps. Still, it DOES reveal some kind of magical aura behind one of the doors.

Nemat: *casts Detect Evil*
GM: Ping.
Nemat: Asrian, you and Zenobia go in through the other door.
Zenobia: *nods enthusiastically*

We burst in the room through both doors, expecting something moderately evil, probably using Illusion magic. It’s a bedroom, with wasp nests.

Nemat: Reveal yourself, fiend, we know you’re here.
Male Voice: And get myself killed? I don’t think so.
Nemat: I take it we have you to thank for the excitement downstairs?
Male Voice: A mere parlour trick. Why have to come to my home, to destroy my house and harm my associates?
Nemat: To do the will of the Pharaoh.
Voice: The Pharaoh is long dead.
Nemat: The current Pharaoh.
Voice: MY Pharaoh is dead - the current is a pretender to the throne. Now leave my home - I have done nothing to you and your kind.
Zenobia OoC: I’m just looking around for the monster - I’m expecting a Nazi skeleton filled with bees.

Eventually it loses patience and tries to mentally command Nemat to jump off the balcony. It fails, but at least reveals itself as a floating horned head. Asrian and Nemat recognise it as Imanish the Div, the creature that regularly tries to lure the desperate of the town over the wall, and into the Necropolis, by posing as a friendly Djinn.

Asrian: THIS f**ker!
Nemat: JUDGEMENT!
Asrian: I hate Djinn, I hate Divs and I HATE YOU MOST OF ALL!

Fucko McHeadly attempts to flee, and avoids the attempted curbstomping by Onka who was standing in the doorway.

Imanish the Div: Minions! To Me!

Nemat acrobatically leaps down into the internal atrium, and hits the monster with ANOTHER scream attack before it can escape. Asrian arrives soon thereafter.

Asrian: DIE YOU F**KER F**KSTAIN F**KHEAD-
Nemat: Asrian? I think he’s already dead.
GM: You manage to curb your battlerage long enough to realise it just said something about minions, just before the six Vargouilles arrive.

Excitement ensues, and not in favour of the good guys. These flying heads ALSO have screaming attacks, which paralyse Zenobia and Onka.

Nemat: ShitshitshitShitSHIT!
Asrian: Don’t move. *runs up Nemat’s back, leaps off his shoulders, and back onto the upstairs balcony to protect Zenobia and Onka.*

Alas, with two of us for Asrian to protect, Zenobia gets Kissed, and starts transforming into a Vargouille herself.

Zenobia: *whimpering noises through the paralysation*
Asrian: *something unprintable in Osirian*
Nemat: It’ll be fine if we can get her into sunlight!
Zenobia: nnnnhhgghgggddaAAaAAGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
Nemat: Is everybody alright up there?
Asrian: No!
Zenobia: I can’t feel my legs!
Nemat: Please tell me nobody got Kissed.
Zenobia: It put its TONGUE in my MOUTH.
Nemat: Get her into the sunlight!
GM: And the sun sinks over the horizon.
Nemat: FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF-

Despite Zenobia’s RAPID changes, including most of her fur falling out, Onka and Asrian take the time to crack the strongbox they spotted in the bedroom.

Zenobia: What are you DOING???
Onka: Prioritising.
Zenobia: *&^%(&^$(*!
Asrian: Hey, at least this way we’ll have the money to pay the priests to cure you.

GM: By the time you get Zenobia to the temple, Zenobia’s ears are starting to grow.
Zenobia OoC: And they were already pretty big.
Nemat: Guards! Fetch a healer!
Asrian: A priest!
Nemat: Both! Your most powerful one!

Sebti the Crocodile herself comes running.

Asrian: We ran into Imanish and his pack!
Nemat: We got them but Zenobia got Kissed!
Sebti: Oh Goddess - we must act quickly!
Zenobia: *whimpering like a whipped dog*

Happily, Sebti’s prayers work, and Zenobia stops looking quite like a Mexican Hairless.

Nemat: I’ve been fretting over you the the whole time.
Asrian: So have I.
Nemat: But now I’m sure you’re going to be fine, I’ll get back to writing my report.
Asrian: Let’s get you back to the inn for some good beer and a rest. Nemat, you handle the money.
Nemat: And Onka can Mend that wedding dress we found.
Zenobia: *brain derails again*

Of course, Zenobia is going to look ridiculous for some time, since it’s not like her fur is going to grow back instantly. And when she wakes up in the morning she discovers she’s been thoroughly groomed.

Zenobia: I’m going to need it. And I’ll probably have to worry about sunburn for the next few days. Wait… who undressed me?
Asrian: I was the only one with you last night.
Zenobia: *blushes so bright red she looks sunburned*
Asrian: Oh, and I have a question - what gender ARE you?
Zenobia: *splutters incoherently*
Asrian: Because you have breasts and you’ve also got all that.

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For reasons I don't want to go into , my player group can never be all together at the same time. So to keep people updated I've taken to recording the sessions from the point of view of one character or another. On the chance some of you may appreciate them, I've decided to post them here.

 

 

Through a Wolf’s Eyes

 

The column smells like rock but also like misery and sounds miserable. Someone’s inside it and that can’t be right, you think. Whoever’s in the stone talks like he wants to stay cooped up, but surely he’ll be better off able to run and fight. You rub against the stone and whine in sympathy and look at the little spirit-talker but she gets distracted because a couple of ghosts show up and possess bow-man and dragon-man and start fighting each other. Little spirit-talker chases the ghosts out of their hosts and chases one right out of the room; dragon man starts hitting the other ghost with the ax until it isn’t there anymore. Little spirit-talker finally gets the idea and puts her blessing on the person in the stone. Then the imprisoned one starts sounding and smelling more confident, and doesn’t object when the dragon-man strikes the stone and shatters it, revealing the prisoner still encased in a shell of stone, looking like a statue. Dragon-man chips away at the stone shell and it starts flaking away and falls apart, and the prisoner can move again.

You keep a wary eye on him. Maybe he was shut up in a pillar because he did something wrong. Or maybe he just got trapped somehow.

You used to be trapped in a human shape, but now you are a wolf and you like it. You vaguely know you have forgotten some things, like names and words, but you know important stuff. You know little spirit-talker is a healer and what that means, and you know the elf-woman is special and wonderful in a way you don’t quite understand. Dragon-man and bow-man and spirit-talker-friend are part of your Pack. You start to think of the one who was trapped in stone as fearful-man because he smells so afraid.

Without going to sleep, you feel yourself dreaming, and know that everyone else is dreaming the same dream. It is fearful-man’s dream, but everyone is dreaming with him. It confuses you because it’s not a wolf-dream, but there’s a dragon in it and a man with a spear who killed the dragon. The spear-man doesn’t have a name, which bothers the two-leg talking people for some reason. There’s a dream of a dragon-man who smells of magic and a sword – you remember clearly what a sword is, when you’re human you use one superbly well – and somehow the sword becomes a human man. You realize that the wonderful elf-woman smells something like a sword, maybe that’s part of what makes her so special to you. Fearful-man smells a little like that too and something like the magic-dragon-man in the dream. Fearful-man doesn’t like the dream and makes himself wake up and everyone stops dreaming.

Fearful-man is holding a stone that smells strongly of magic. Bow-man tries to get him to give it up, but he doesn’t want to let go. He also doesn’t want to go anywhere. Seems the Pack will be staying here a while. Little spirit-talker gets everyone to help make the place an acceptable Den for her, you even help by picking up pieces of the broken stone column in your mouth and carrying them to the wall so they’re not in the middle of the floor. Others rub at the wall. There are pictures on the wall but pictures don’t mean much to a wolf. Finally little spirit-talker sings at the big rock in the middle and a magic fire comes up on it. Even though it looks and smells like fire it’s not as scary somehow and the place feels like a real snug Den. Little spirit-talker seems like a good Pack leader.

But fearful-man seems to feel that what little spirit-talker did was dangerous, and you can understand why – setting up a Den in the middle of someone else’s territory is a challenge. Fearful-man keeps saying “The Monster” will come. Whatever the monster is, this must be its territory.

The monster comes very suddenly. All you see is a big gray circle in front of you, like a window opening onto a blank wall of stone, and the odor is of stone. You feel yourself becoming stone again – like before – but no! Yapping and growling you summon all your savage will and shake off the urge to stand still and let yourself petrify. Not stone, not stone, notstone, wolf! Forcing yourself to look away from the gray circle, you see something like a dead-dragon-man wearing lots of shiny metal and holding a long stick. It smells of magic like the dragon-man in the dream but by now you barely remember the dream and fearful-man is yelling that it’s The Monster. Bow-man fires an arrow hitting the stick and knocking it away from the hand grasping it, and elf-woman uses her long chain thing to grab it and yank it to her, then hands it to fearful-man who uses it somehow to call up a great wind. The big metal doors open and the wind blows the dead-magic-dragon-man out, then the doors close. Elf-woman runs to the doors and does something, maybe to make them not open again?

Most of the Pack have been turned to stone now. There’s only elf-woman and bow-man and yourself, and fearful-man who doesn’t seem to be of the Pack. He made the monster go away but doesn’t smell or sound or act like someone who just vanquished a rival; he thinks the monster will be back. When you concentrate you can still understand words. “He has no Name, if I knew his Name I could Open the Dragon’s Throat and burn him!”

The two-legs talk about how to get the Pack back. It’s worrying that they’re all trapped in stone now. But bow-man suddenly fires upwards for some reason, and then a vampire falls from the ceiling onto the big rock in the middle. You don’t get a chance for a bite before bow-man and elf-woman kill the nasty thing. Some other thing up there starts talking and bow-man and the thing up there talk back and forth in between bow-man shooting at it.

Suddenly you can’t see. You think you hear something coming into the room but the two-legs are talking and then fearful-man is chanting, and suddenly you can see again. There’s another vampire that was trying to creep up in the dark but once again the bow-man and elf-woman destroy it before you can get involved. The Pack is powerful!

Fearful-man seems more confident after driving off the darkness. He goes to the statue of dragon-man and pushes it over with the big stick. Trying to rise in the Pack hierarchy? Then he pulls a sword from out of himself somehow and strikes the fallen statue. Before you can react, the stone cracks and falls away and the dragon-man is yelling at fearful-man for standing over him with a sword. Fearful-man’s sword vanishes as he backs away. Dragon-man goes around and chips at everyone’s stone shells with the big tool he carries. The Pack are all able to move again!

Let’s go hunt down the monster and kill it or drive it out and claim its territory!

 

Lucius Alexander

 

Copyright Palindromedary Enterprises

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Conveniently, one of the player characters is reputed to be "The Third Best Spy in Arduna" and a report to the king he is serving now is a handy format.

 

Conclusion to Report to be Presented to Scaramdrax the Manificent, Monarch of Tatha Gorel, Regarding the Expedition to Chomath to Extract Certain Personnel and

An Object of Interest

 

Will rubbed his eyes and took another long sip of the strong tea the Troll had brought. He had come to the last of the scrolls provided and still had ten hours of action to describe. Taking up the quill he began to write….

After Xanthrax released Breanna and then Harka from the stone shells, Breanna seemed dazed for a moment. The stone shards began to move and coalesce into statue-like but animate images which were all chanting the name Breanna. Then they declared themselves to be the Shawabtis of Breanna. Shawabtis spoke of having been created by the Monster but wanted to serve Breanna now. Shawabtis stated Monster wanted them to open the front door but they didn’t want to listen to him.

We observed that there was a swarm of moths around the opening in the ceiling. Shawabtis identified it as a vampire. Xanthrax scooped up and hurled some embers from the fire on the altar and emitted a draconic roar; one or the other of these actions drove the moth swarm off. Breanna had to dodge falling embers and reprimanded Xanthrax. They also disagreed regarding Xanthrax’ intention to explore the Temple Complex further; he abandoned the argument upon discovering the way into the next temple was barred.

With our perimeter now as secure as could be managed, the following exchange took place between Sinoskay, who retained both the Object of Interest and the Staff previously described, and Breanna:

B: We know the Monster is an Unburned Drakine, that he must have been a powerful wizard, and that he is ancient. I think your Monster is the corpse of Zornwil.

S: Zornwil? I was Zornwil.

B: You were. But your body was not burned. And you’re not Zornwil now, you are Sinoskay.

S: I was Zornwil – but I’m not Zornwil anymore. But HE still is! HE IS ZORNWIL! I have his name!

At this point Sinoskay stood straight and pounded the heel of his staff on the floor and called out to Zornwil, challenging him to appear. Breanna managed to quiet him by saying Zornwil would have to be faced but it would be better to prepare as much as possible and to do so as the sun rises, when vampires and other undead are at lesser power.

Breanna discovered that the Shawabtis can pass through walls, and began using them as scouts. They reported the Monster and some 2 score Unburned out in the garden, darkness and webbing in the temple we had already passed through, and darkness and a lurking vampire in the next temple counterclockwise that we had not penetrated. I could not independently verify these observations without taking risks I judged unacceptable. The Shawabtis also revealed a secret door into what would have been storage space when the temple was active; they reported the space to be wrecked and open to the sky, but containing some useful items. Shawabtis proved able to not only pass walls but retrieve objects through them, including a chamber pot sized and shaped for Drakine use and a number of candles. Breanna discussed with Xanthrax the advisability of lighting one with appropriate prayers in hope of eliciting the favor the Drakine Deities, but Sinoskay interposed that most of them would be counterproductive but one he pointed out would drive off vampires as long as it burned. Sinoskay also expressed an opinion that “This is a Godsforsaken place, They don’t care what happens here anymore.” Whether he meant the Temple Complex, Chomath as a whole, or perhaps the entire Haunted Lands, was ambiguous.

Not all of the Monster’s servants were vampires. We heard the voice of the Shapeshifter again, offering to guide us out of the city. He was not visible, but Feren noted something amiss with the voice and declared he was not lurking atop the roof but had infiltrated the chamber; Feren’s quick eyes were also first to note that the outer door’s bar was being lifted. She moved quickly to replace it and the Shape shifter took visible form, uttering words in an unknown tongue that I somehow understood meant “Astral Trap.” To my frustration I found myself changed into an immaterial state, unable to effectively take part in events; I continued to observe. Harka and the Wolf I saw were caught in the same trap. Xanthrax struck the Shapeshifter and he – or it - also moved into the Astral Plane and then vanished like an arrow speeding into the distance.

One of the Shawabtis leapt onto the bar and declared, “This will get hot.” The ensuing conversation between Shawabtis, Xanthrax, and Breanna, made clear the intention: the Shawabtis would weld the bar in place. Breanna also expressed an awareness of what had become of us and an intention to retrieve us later using her own powers of astral travel.

There was an interval in which the Wolf lay down to sleep, Harka complained of being unable to act to protect Breanna, those who remained in the physical realm consumed rations and utilized the chamber pot, Feren repeatedly listened at all doors and scanned the upper opening, and Sinoskay stared so intently at the outer door I began to fear that he had again petrified, until he explained to Breanna that he was certain “Zornwil will come in by the front door. His vanity will permit no other entrance.” Indeed there was from time to time a great gonging boom as of someone striking the door and finding it securely barred. Also during this time Sinoskay produced from somewhere two glowing crystals he distributed to Feren and to Breanna.

A Red Arrow dropped from the ceiling opening. I was immediately captivated by it, and both Harka and I approached and gazed on it – I am certain this attraction was some arcane compulsion, for nothing less could have drawn Harka out of his position by Breanna, but those who remained material seemed not to be caught in the fascination. Perhaps drawn by this arrow, a spirit of some long dead Drakine entered the temple, and assaulted Xanthrax, who hit it with the Xanther Ax until it wasn’t there anymore. Deducing that the arrow was a lure that would draw in hostile spiritual forces, Breanna, without approaching it, began to abjure it. Despite these abjurations, another spirit entered through the front door, turned to face it, and began trying to lift the bar. Failing, it passed through the door and at once returned with a companion, and both strove to lift the bronze bar. Meanwhile other spirits would flit into the temple, move towards the arrow, and then flee when growled at by the Bear Spirit, and one of the Shawabtis had taken hold of the arrow and was trying to break it. Breanna directed Xanthrax to attack the two at the door but Xanthrax could not see them. The bar broke free of the weld, rose, and clattered to the floor at almost the same moment the arrow finally snapped.

Some remnant of the arrow’s enchantment held me rooted in place as the great bronze doors were flung open and, with the rising sun at its back, the Monster strode into the Temple. It still wore the ancient bronze armor and in one heavily clawed and near skeletal hand held a slender wand. Its attention was focused solely on Sinoskay, who leveled his staff and declared “Zornwil. You are Zornwil.”

Feren struck with her unusual weapon, seizing the Monster’s wrist and jerking it forward so as to both drop the wand and fall onto its face. It rose swiftly and at a gesture the wand returned to its hand. At this juncture Xanthrax leapt forward to roar a challenge, “Slay or be slain!” Xanthrax and the bear were clawing at the Monster and Feren deftly avoided both allies while battering away at it; whether due to its arcane and unholy nature or to the enchanted armor of bronze, it did not seem much hurt.

Sinoskay shook the staff and a wind arose that was powerful enough to sweep both Feren and Xanthrax away towards the sides of the temple before dying down. Unwilling to allow the Monster a clear path to Sinoskay, they immediately interposed themselves again. The Monster seemed to sidestep without moving somehow and then there were two of it. It repeated the process and there were four. One grappled with Xanthrax; one pursued Feren who remained tactically mobile, managing to batter it repeatedly while evading its grasp; one slowly approached Breanna appearing to aim its wand at her but without visible effect; and one approached Sinoskay unopposed.

Breanna began to chant, “Zornwil is one, Zornwil is not four” and I could sense the tension rising between whatever spell had been worked to multiply the Monster and the healer’s attempt to counter it. For a moment, I saw the priestess Teotalis present behind Breanna. Sinoskay joined that chant for a moment, then as the Monster approaching him seized the staff, shouted “I Open the Dragon’s Throat upon Zornwil! Burn, Zornwil!” and an explosion of flames enveloped them both that consumed the Monster but left Sinoskay merely panting and sweating.

Feren was circling the chamber pursued by one Monster and when Sinoskay had a chance to catch both Monsters in one blast of flame he did so. Xanthrax and Feren were both caught in the blast as well; Feren took some hurt but Xanthrax seems fireproof. Of course Unburned Drakine are also supposed to be fireproof but these two began to wither at once and turned towards Sinoskay threateningly. At this point Breanna cried out triumphantly “There can be only One!” and these two vanished abruptly, leaving only the one closing in on her.

The final Monster charged Sinoskay only to be caught in a searing blast that soon reduced it to a pile of bronze armor, partly melted, and a brazen rod – the wand – rolling on the floor.

Sinoskay collapsed. Breanna rushed to tend to him. The compulsion holding me and Harka in place faded and we went to the open bronze doors to look without and noted that the crowd of Unburned outside were beginning to disperse without entering the temple, an observation confirmed by the Shawabtis.

Soon Harka, the Wolf, and Myself, faded back into the physical.

As we discussed the question of whether it was safe to depart yet, Sinoskay declared “I have to go outside” and did so, followed by everyone else. He laid his staff upon the ground and stood back as it began to grow and change; presumably the reason Sinoskay had to go outside was that there would no room indoors for the great dragon his staff was transforming into.

Before the dragon took shape fully Breanna declared an intention to attempt to commune with your majestic self, O Scaramdrax, in search of guidance, and we were all content to permit her to interact with this imposing being.

Dragon: How – long?

Breanna: You have been asleep a very long time, your Magnificence.

Dragon: I was dead!

Sinoskay stood and watched calmly, but did not speak or draw any attention to himself during this exchange.

Breanna: Yes.

Dragon: My Prisoner – What has he done? He…why does he have no name??

Breanna: I think I can show you….

Dragon: Show me.

Breanna then somehow conjured up the same vision we had seen previously, of Zornwil conspiring with the individual we suspect to be the Lord of the Graven Spear.

Dragon: Enough! Where is the traitor?

Breanna then conjured the image of the destruction of the Monster by fire.

Dragon: Good. What became of the nameless one?

Breanna: He was thought destroyed long ago, but now an evil force has risen in the far north that seems connected to him.

Dragon: We shall see about that!

The dragon at this point leapt into the air and flew away.

Fearing the dragon may have drawn the attention of wandering Unburned, we hastened to the tower of the Portal. During the hour or so still to wait, Breanna insisted we exert every effort to ensure that there was no one invisible infiltrated among us.

Extraction of assembled personnel and of the Object of Interest was accomplished on schedule & according to plan.

 

 Forgive the large font: the player has poor eyesight.

 

Lucius Alexander

 

Copyright Palindromedary Enterprises

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