SCENE: Space Station Break Room. A bulletin board on the wall says ‘Security is Our Priority. It has been 0 days since an Incursion.’ PCEJ1 and PCEJ2 sit at the break table scooping paddles full of an unidentified glowing piezoelectric energy syrup into purple orifices.
PCEJ1: (sits down at the table and begins slurping his energy syrup) ….Hey, morning. What’s up with Doug? He’s been shut up in his office all morning. Usually he comes down about now to tell us how to do our job and make himself feel all important.
PCEJ2: (mouth full) ….yeah he was looking kinda amethyst when he got back through the portal.
PCEJ1: (coughs and spits out syrup)….he went through the portal? (looks over his shoulder at the door to make sure no one is listening.) No way, I never thought he would get off his ass and do it.
PCEJ2: (sets down his paddle) What did you do?
PCEJ1: I may have ‘insinuated’ that some of the crew were talking about forming a union. You know, because of all the extra Boarder-Repelling and Corpse Disposal we’ve been doing that is not in our job description. I looked it up in the manual.
PCEJ2: Oh yeah, just now he totally went down there to put up a sign. Said there was like a whole meatbag village on the other side…. no wonder there’s like a steady stream of them….said they started screaming and pointing and getting all agitated and he shot a few of them and then scampered back to his office.
PCEJ1: Think anyone followed him?
PCEJ2: So what if they did. What are they gonna do, come stab me with their pointy stick? Wait did you hear that?
PCEJ1: (listening) What?
PCEJ2: For a second it sounded like some big wanna-be hero meatbag smashing his way through a bunch of our guys….
(They both laugh and slurp at their energy syrup)
SCENE: space station interior hallway. Broken bowstrings, broken primitive wood-hafted weapons and shredded pieces of leather armor litter the floor. Blood globules float almost weightlessly around the room, then gently land and spatter against the walls, painting abstract patterns. Two Purple Crystalline Entity Janitors drag the lifeless bodies of five people toward the airlock.
Purple Crystalline Entity Janitor 1: SO, who do you think these guys were anyway? Like what were they thinking? “Today I’m gonna take my backward-fishing-village-ass up into space and see who lives there. Should definitely NOT be a problem crushing any enemy I run into with my wood cudgel and spear.”
Purple Crystalline Entity Janitor 2: Yeah, they’re all, “‘I’ll bet I can totally maneuver in near-freefall and I’ll totally be on equal footing with whoever lives in space all the time.”
PCEJ1: Somebody should put a sign on the other side of that portal. “DO NOT ENTER. Danger! For REAL.”
PCEJ2: I know, I told the boss that like two million years ago. It’s probably still in the suggestion box. Hold up, plug your nose. (he punches the airlock actuator button and a loud WHOMP is felt from within the airlock. The dead bodies are launched tumbling into space orbiting a blue and green planet). I think the seals are going bad on that door. Always makes my ears pop whenever we have to ice these poor bastards.
PCEJ1: (smirking) The manual says we’re supposed to call them, UV’s. ‘Unwanted Visitors.’
PCEJ2: Wait, the boss updated the manual so we gotta call them UV’s, but didn’t bother to put a sign up on the other side of the portal?
PCEJ1: I know. Did you know Doug used to be on the cleaning crew too? Now he just sits in his office writing emails all day…
PCE2: Yeah, I bet if Doug was the one who had to vacuum up all that blood, he’d get a sign on there by the end of the day.
I’ve not written this much in ages and my fingers already hurt from penning Maga’s letter. If I hadn’t told him we were nearly out of paper, I think he’d have rambled on more… Anyhow, back to my tale:
Magistrate Neomal told us to travel to Keyford for aid. Aydermen, the magistrate of that place could send food and aid to our village as well as word to the King of Ghan. Apparently, Dudley had travelled to Keyford several years ago and knew this man. Jemmy’s mother told us to find an Aeon priestess named Terishini. She thought this woman might be able to shed some light on the automata that had attacked our village. We found a boat that had survived the attack and spent the remainder of the day repairing and stocking it. Keyford was a good day and a half away and the trip was uneventful.
Keyford is a rough and tumble place. Most of the inhabitants make their living harvesting lumber from the Westwood. There is a sizable number of merchant sailors in town as well. Brawls are common as the lumbermen and seafarers let off steam. We landed our craft at the docks, and began making our way to the town proper, when we spied a group of men pushing a cart full of weapons, household goods and other objects. They were led by an obvious mutant, and Maga was immediately spoiling for a fight. Dudley and I went to speak to the men and while engaged in conversation, I noticed an insectoid limb with the same type of biological dart projector we had seen attached to the automata that had invaded our village.
We pressed the men for more information on where they had found that dart projector. Their leader, who was becoming increasingly belligerent spat out Isolon, a village in Navarene, a neighboring realm, and then turned and struck one of the men I was conversing with. Dudley immediately struck him back. With a snarl, the man pulled out a pick and prepared to attack. Suddenly, a crossbow bolt struck him in the chest! Maga reloaded his weapon, while the mutant swung at Dudley, but seeing he was outclassed the man turned and fled. Maga chased him down and killed him! Jemmy and I were stunned at how quickly things escalated.
Once they had calmed down, the other men gave as a little more information. Apparently, Isolon had been attacked. A sole survivor had made her way to Bodrov and told her story. These men thought to loot the village and sell the plunder in Keyford where they were unlikely to be questioned. The men seemed somewhat relieved that their former leader was no more. We let them keep their loot and made our way to Keyford.
Our first stop was to see the Aeon priestess. Terishini was cordial, but gave us no immediate answers. She promised to contact members of her order for more information and encouraged us to investigate the village of Isolon to see if we could discover any more clues.
We next went to see Aydermen. He was very concerned and dispatched people to help the survivors of our village. He agreed that we should investigate Isolon since the incident seemed related to the attack on our home. He outfitted us with mounts and provisions from the journey and set us up in an inn for the night.
In the common room of the inn, we heard several rumors. One was a tale of an old crone from the Westwood who rails that something will emerge from that benighted forest and sweep the surrounding kingdoms away. More importantly, we also heard that a small town north of Harmuth was attacked in a manner similar to Isolon and our home.
Isolon was a couple of days travel from Keyford. Travelling by Aneen is a most unpleasant experience, the gait of the creature takes some getting used to. Other than queasy stomachs and saddle sores, we encountered no troubles on our first day. On the second day, we met a troop of thirty or more warriors from Bodrov, led by a man named Dilron.
Dilron was travelling into Ghan on a mission of revenge. The survivor from Isolon had said that woodsmen had attacked her home. We attempted to reason with him, arguing that we had evidence to the contrary and the attack on our village bore such striking similarity to the one on Isolon that some other force must be at work. The man’s mind was made up, and we could not engage such a force of men, so we stood aside. I sent Pyx back to Keystone with a message for Aydermen, warning him that a war party was entering his territory.
We continued to Isolon finding it deserted and looted. There were signs of a struggle and some odd-colored blood in places. We found a trail of blood that led out of the village, to the west. Eventually, we found a crater that had been marked off by some kind of warning totems setup by the locals. We explored the crater and Maga stumbled into an underground chamber.
It was literally a web of passages beneath the ground. Each room seemed to have a couple passages going down and a couple going up. As we explored the place, we were attacked by an insect-like being. It created realistic illusions and attacked with some sort of mental energy. I was sorely wounded in the ensuing fight. The insect arm we recovered in Keystone obviously came from one of these beings. We explored the place, eventually defeating a number of these creatures and finally found ourselves in a chamber with an underground river. Bodies of these insect-beings were piled in this chamber. The right arms of the creatures had been severed and they looked as though they had been “cooked” from the inside out.
This is another piece of a puzzle, but we still have no clear picture of what is happening. We theorize that these creatures were some unwitting or unwilling pawn of whatever created those biological dart throwers. I am a little concerned about Jemmy, who took it upon himself to graft one of those things onto his arm…
Ok, Ildrak, I want you to write everything I say right there on that paper, just like I say it. Ok? Ok.
No, this letter ain’t for my dad, since he don’t read. Plus, he don’t care too much for me, truth told. It’s for my uncle. The one who run off to be an Angulan Knight. You heard that story before, right Ildrak?
Ok here goes.
It’s me, Maga telling you this. I know you been gone from Hyrem for a long, long time, and I wouldn’t ever know you if you were standing right in front of me, but Mama always told me you was a good man who knew his letters, so maybe one day I can find you and give this to you to read. Plus you’re a man who hates them muties and freaks just like I do. This here is the story of what’s been happening to us in Hyrem. And it ain’t good.
First thing, me and some of those boys I grow’d up with turned eighteen this Spring, and it was time for us to put on our fancy robes and get anointed, is that how you say it? as full adults. So Dudley shows up for the dunking wearing a robe so short his ass was half-hanging out, on account that you told him it was supposed to be real short for climbing up all those steps. No, you, Ildrak, you told him that. Oh, yeah, I’m supposed to be telling this story to my uncle. So we’re made to climb all the way, way up there to the top of the cliffs and Dudley’s like, here Maga, I’ll carry you up there on my back, on account you look kinda sickly today, and I’m like, screw you, short robe, I’ll walk my own ass up there. Then Jenny and me and Dudley and Dudley’s pa, who is the Masturstrate, what? Oh, Magistrate, and you, I mean Ildrak, march our asses up the top of the mountain. I smoked like four or five fags on the way, it took so long to climb it. And then once we’re up there Dudley’s pa says get naked and get in the water with me, and I’m like, why don’t you guys go first. So, you…I mean Ildrak, and Dudley get dunked and come out all shiny and wet and adult. Then, no shit, right as I’m dropping trou, everyone’s like yelling that the village is on fire and takes off running back down the trail, and I’m like no freaking way I’m coming up here again, so I dunk my own self. Jenny forgets and runs down the mountain.
Anyway, we get down to the village and everything is on fire and the people are all stolen away, except a couple who is fighting these metal mechanical men, and I’m like, ain’t that just typical, evil foreigners come over to our land and fuck everything up and steal everyone. And, Uncle, I’m like, I can take a whack at these guys, ‘cuz I know how to fight, but I gotta go back to pa’s and my house and get some gear. So then me and Jenny go and whack on these metal foreigners for a while. And they’re pretty tough. But we kill’t one and then Jenny starts taking parts off it saying they’re valuable. So then, we’re fighting another metal man, and we whack it down, and Jenny goes off to help his ma, who you, I mean Ildrak, told him was hurt bad, and I’m like I’m gonna get some valuable stuff off this metal man too, and then like, the robot man wasn’t all the way dead or something, ‘cuz he blew me up a little and it made my ears bleed.
So then we find….Ildrak, see I got it right, with Dudley and and Jenny and Dudleys’ dad, and Jenny’s ma, Sari, and they all saw these metal foreigners taking all the people in these bags down under the sea down by the fishing boats, and now everyone is gone. Except us. So Sari says we gotta go to Keford to tell the Aeon Priestess about this, and I’m like no way, I hate the big city and it’s a nest of freaks and mutants there, and Mama always said don’t trust big city folk. Dudley says, no they’re just people like everywhere else, and I’m like, whatever, short robe.
So we sailed a couple days down to Keford, and hop off the boat. And I shit you not, the very first person we see is a fucking mutie with just one eye and his nose all sideways on his face! Regular folk, just like us, my ass! And this mutie is leading a bunch a regular pussy looking guys pulling a cart full of junk. And I’m like I’m gonna kill this mutie scum, so I load up my crossbow, but Dudley is like, I’ll handle this, and he’s talking to the stinking mutie and trying to convince him to tell us stuff, and go figure the mutie tells him to go fuck himself, and then all of a sudden Dudley’s fighting the mutie, and I plug him, what? no the mutie, not Dudley, I plug him with my crossbow and they’re still fighting away and I plug him again real good and he’s trying to limp away, and I follow after him and reload, and then I’m like, are all the people in Keford freaks and mutants and mutie-lovers and are they gonna lock me up for killing this mutie? ‘cuz I’m not sure I want to be locked up right when I turned into an adult, and I see some guards up there by the town wall kinda watchin’ what’s going on. But then I kill’t him anyway, stinking mutie.
So the mutie and his gang had came through some town called Isobar, or some foreign name like that and looted a town totally empty of people, just like Hyrem was empty, so maybe we gotta go there to see what’s going on.
Then, uncle, we met the Aeon Priestess lady, and she was real nice, and she liked our robot parts we brung her, then we went to talk to the King of Keford, what? Ok, the Magistrate. He talked funny but, no shit, he had a pin on that was like two crossed cutlasses on a red and blue shield, and I think it was Angulan Knight pin. So I liked him. Then he let us go to the tavern and we talked to some other people with funny accents, but I liked them anyway, and they told me about another town up by Harmuth that got totally stolen away too. So there’s lots of people getting stolen away by foreigners, metal men, and probably mutants, all around the country. And that ain’t good.
So Uncle, then we had to ride on these tall, tall critters with two legs, for ever and ever and I was so sick in my gut. Probably din’t help the King, I mean Magistrate, let us drink as much as we wanted the night before. We were riding to Isobar to see for ourselves what happened there, ‘cuz Galvan knows that mutie I kill’t was lying to us. Then we crossed into another country, Navarene, I think it’s called? It looked just the same as Ghan, truth be told. And then later, there was this huge posse of glaives on the road and they looked really mad, and they were heading to cross back over to Ghan to go fuck up the woodmen who they said stole all their people. I was just about to say yeah, let’s go fuck up those woodmen, when I see one of that posse has like octopus tentacles instead of arms, and my head nearly exploded, ‘cuz this posse is a bunch of mutie-lovers! And it was all I could do to keep from starting it up with that mutie. Their boss was called Dillron, and he was a total Dillron.
Then we got to Isobar and like, everyone is gone, just like back in Hyrem. But we found a trail of yellow blood, like from the insect arm that the dead mutie had. Oh, I never told you about that before. Anyway, the trail lead to a big crater in the ground with some old markers sayin’ don’t go down there or you will die, and so we went down there. And then I fell down into a hole in the ground I din’t see, and it was dark and things crawling on me, and then everyone came down on a rope which was better than falling. Then there’s tunnels. Lots and lots of tunnels and rooms going down and down. And then everyone’s acting weird and seeing shit that ain’t there. And THEN there’s a fucking seven foot tall cockroach. And so we’re shooting at it and…Ildrak is looking pretty messed up, like that cockroach had been using his brain for a punchin’ bag. We kill’t the roach and keep going down and down, then fight another roach-thing, who makes Ildrak run after his invisible girlfriend. We’re totally lost. We’re all beat up. I’m lost, but somehow Jenny knows right where we are, and we gotta keep going down. Then another roach-thing is just about to feel my club in his face, when he sends me to a bad, bad place. I’m all alone in a cavern and there’s muties everywhere, and they’re all poking me and laughing at me and calling me names. Uncle, it was a madhouse down in those tunnels. But my buddies musta kill’t that bug, because I came back.
But sure enough, we found the underground ocean-river flowin’ through the cave and Jenny’s flesh compass was workin’ good. What? Oh, I better explain more. The compass don’t find flesh. It’s like made of flesh and it finds north, but only when it’s near salt. And that ocean-river was salty, alright. Right beside the ocean-river is a pile of those insect people, all with one arm hacked off. We all are guessin’ that whoever is stealin’ folks everywhere, took their arms to get the dart guns attached to them. Or somethin’ like that.
Uncle, Ildrak is telling me that he’s almost out of paper and next time I gotta be shorter with my story. It’s hard when everything is so fucked and don’t make any sense. So for now, I’ll roll a fag and we’ll rest up and get outta this dark place and go find who done all this crazy shit. And I’ll say, talk to you later. Your nephew, Maga.
My name is Ildrak. I’ve never kept a journal before, but I feel I must have some sort of record, to let Anell know that I desperately tried to save her.
I grew up in Hyrem, a small fishing village on the western shore of the Ryness Bay. I was a foundling. My adopted Father told me a story of how a beautiful woman beckoned to him to the eastern shore of the bay while he was out fishing. He must have been disappointed to find her gone when he drew his boat to shore and only a synth bassinet with myself and a fledgling owl (whose name is Pyx) inside. I’ll credit him that he didn’t leave me there to die. He brought me back to his home and added me to his already large family.
I’ve never fit in. I was always “the foundling” to the other villagers. I had no interest in fishing and while I do feel a pull towards the Westwood forest where I was found, the woodsmen would never take a skinny lad to harvest lumber. I only connected with one soul in the village, my dear Anell. A restless soul, like myself, she dreamed of leaving Hyrem and finding her way in the wider world. I’ve a certain talent for illusion and we hoped to make a name in Qi or some other city as stage magicians.
As is tradition in our village, when a child reaches their eighteenth year, they undergo a ritual passage into adulthood. It is no great ordeal – a baptism by the magistrate is all – but the family and friends of the person usually gift them with a few shins or other goods to help them start a household. Anell and I agreed to wait until I had undergone the rite, collected my presents and then slip off into the night while the rest of the village celebrated. Oh, how I wish we’d not waited…
I was to undergo the rite with three other youths. Maga, a sickly warrior obsessed was mutants. Jemmy, son of the village healer and an explorer at heart. And finally Dudley, the magistrate’s popular and well-loved son. (He is perhaps the opposite of me in every respect.) The ritual is held atop a hill, some distance from town. I’d been dunked and Dudley had just had his bath when we noticed smoke billowing up from the town below.
Now, I have a peculiar ability in that I can share the senses of a willing creature, so I sent Pyx aloft to see what was amiss. The village was under attack! Lances of energy set buildings alight. We didn’t tarry, but hurried back to the village as quickly as we could. By the time we arrived, the battle was nearly at an end.
We crept into the flaming ruins, searching for survivors. Maga and Jemmy went to find weapons. Dudley spied a seven-foot tall automaton attacking a group of villagers and strode off to confront it, hurling bolts of energy as went. I had only one thought in mind: “Find Anell and get her to safety.”
While my companions sought conflict, I slipped through the village in search of Anell. As luck would have it, one of the automatons discovered me. I tried to avoid it using my illusions, but it was most persistent. Finally, I ducked around a corner, ran straight into the magistrate and fell flat on my back. The magistrate pulled a cypher from under his coat and made to attack the thing, but was felled by a paralyzing dart. I had concealed myself behind a rain barrel as this exchange took place and the automaton abandoned his search for me. Snatching up the magistrate, it bore him down to the beach. As I recovered the cypher, I saw the magistrate placed into some sort of huge sack. A few other sacks were also on the beach and I watched in fascination as another automata dragged one of the sacks into the depths of the bay!
Making my way through the village, I discovered our healer Sali in a pool of blood. She was delirious, but I was able to staunch the bleeding and promised her I would look for her son Jemmy. A short time later, I stumbled across my young foster brother Ulrie. He told me that the automatons had taken many of the villagers prisoner, encasing them in some strange sacks and dragging them below the waves. I told him to look after Sali while I went in search of her son.
I found him and Maga engaging an automata but a short while later. I discharged my cypher at the thing, but missed it utterly. While Jemmy and Maga made short work of this metallic creature, I made my way down to the beach in hopes that the magistrate had another cypher. As luck would have it, he indeed had another ray emitter. I hurried back to the fray. We managed to take down another of the automatons, but the rest retreated below the waves.
Only the Magistrate (Neomal), Sali, Ulrie, and the four of us remained in the village. The magistrate had no idea what type of being had attacked, but he instructed us to travel to Keyford and ask for assistance there. We’ve gathered weapons and supplies and will set out in the morning.
Anell, I know not where you have been taken, nor what you have endured, but I am coming for you!
We’re on a hiatus from Zaibatsu after a near TPK. I’ve got a post in the works, but Icculus has to get back to me with all the names I forget or misspell in my write-ups:-)
We decided to give Numenera 2 a go. We’ve abandoned the characters and campaign we were playing a few months ago. Honestly, the rules changes are so minor we could have kept them, but the GM had “gotten his muse” back and wanted to run his own campaign rather than finish off the “Sun Below” stuff. We generated characters and so far we have:
Dudley is a Heroic Glaive who Absorbs Energy
Ildrak is a Stealthy Jack who Crafts Illusions
Maga is a Mutant Glaive who Hunts Mutants
Jemmy is a Curious Delve who Augments Flesh with Grafts
We started the campaign last week and I’ll have a synopsis up later on.
I’m looking forward to the new version of Numenera. While I’m not obsessively following the developments of the game, I do read the news at the MCG website about once a week. I like the way the new version is shaping up.
One thing that hasn’t changed (as far as I can tell) is Effort. I’ve never cared for the implementation of Effort. The cost of three for the first level and two for each subsequent level isn’t elegant. Players rarely used it at first tier. You’ll only have an edge of one at that tier, so getting that +3 bonus for the cost of two stat points is pretty pricey. You also need to declare it before you use it so when you blow your die roll, you are doubly disappointed.
When I ran The Strange, I house ruled that Effort cost a flat 2 per level. The players tended to use it a lot more at first tier. By the time they hit second tier, and raised Edge, they could perform one kind of action with a +3 bonus “for free”. I always wondered if this rule would encourage players to “branch out” and take Edge for one of their other stats. We stopped the game around tier 3 so I guess I’ll never know.
I’ve been thinking about the “I add two levels of Effort and roll a 2” problem. What if Effort was retroactive? You declare that you use it after the dice are rolled. This can take a narrow miss and turn it into a success. You can also make sure you punch through the 6 armor points on that raging automaton you just shot and do some real damage to it.
I may have to dust off the old The Strange game and give this a go.
Squint, John and Axton’s players were unable to make this game.
More allies are found. We are betrayed. An old friend was seen again.
After spending the night at the Queen’s Head Inn, Mor-Klish guided Icculus, Hex and us to the dream gas mines where we hoped to contact any Slithik rebels. These mines lie some way from the city proper, through ancient tunnels filled with discarded machinery. By all appearances, the Praithians once had a much more technologically sophisticated civilization, but they have fallen into decline. The dream gas mine is vast. A shaft runs deep into the earth. The work appears dangerous, many of the Slithik we encountered had terrible injuries.
We met with a group of rebels who appeared to be led by two individuals. A female named Tasss-Klish and a male named Pierce-Klish. Tasss-Klish was obviously not pleased to see us – accusing us of conspiring with King Umbral and putting the rebellion in jeopardy. Pierce-Klish was more conciliatory and heard our story. He agreed that joining forces with the Dh’Lann increased the chances that the rebellion would succeed. We determined that a joint meeting with the Dh’Lann, the Slithik and the Princess would be our best course of action. Our group returned to the rooms full of machinery to scavenge cyphers and manufacture weapons for the Slithik.
After a long day of work, we prepared to return to the Queen’s Head Inn. As we made our way through the tunnels, a singularity cypher rolled into the midst of our group. Hex was able to far step away from the blast, and we were injured, but poor Icculus bore the brunt of the implosion. A Praithian Knight appeared before Hex, cutting him down with his flaming sword. Any thought of retreat was banished as we saw Tasss-Klish and a group of Slithik slaves cutting off our path. Realizing that resistance was futile, we surrendered. Luckily, Mor-Klish (who had been lagging behind) avoided capture. We attempted to conceal the healing sphere that Miska had given us earlier, but our captors found it and beat us bloody.
We were thrown in a dank cell filled with rotting bodies of the Slithik and Dh’Lann folk. One captive shared our plight. A Slithik named Korlath-Klish. We spent more than a day in this terrible place, while Korlath-Klish attempted to weaken a floor plate and thus facilitate our escape. During our imprisonment, we felt an itching sensation in the backs of our necks. Korlath-Klish explained that we had been “infected” by a type of nanite and that control crystals were now growing in our necks. They would mature in two weeks and then we would be slaves to the Praithians!
We made our escape through the tunnels that lie beneath our prison cell. Korlath-Klish had a vague sense of where we were located and guided us towards the warehouse the Dh’Lann rebels have made their headquarters. We stumbled down a dark passage to avoid a patrol and emerged into a chamber that looked like the River of Stars. Indeed, it was the river as Lebby greeted us when we entered. The girl seemed unable to summon the bio-airship to Urbamorr. She encouraged us to enter the river and we gladly partook of its healing qualities. Upon emerging, we were startled to find ourselves in a small room – the River of Stars and Lebby were no longer there.
We quickly determined that we were near the underground storage area, not far from the Dh’Lann rebel headquarters. We hid in the chamber until nightfall and made our way down the passage. Looking back, Icculus noticed that the door we had just emerged from had vanished. We made our way to the rebel base and after some conversation with the guards at the door we were finally permitted to speak to Breesh-Vass. We discovered that we had been absent for a week by their reckoning, even though it seems little more than two days have passed for us.
Breesh-Vass told us that Axton, John and Squint had not been accosted during our absence. Apparently they have been occupied with the Abykos Klaro is spawning. They have agreed to bring our companions to us and setup a meeting between the princess, the Slithik and the Dh’Lann.
Two players joined the game so our GM had them join the party on the dock.
Squint is a Mystical Glaive who Fuses Flesh with Steel
John Smallberries is an Empathic Glint who Entertains
We have learned more about this world below and allies have been found.
Shortly after disembarking from our vessel we saw a pair of humans wandering the dock. They had recently arrived at the City on the Edge, but had not travelled there on purpose. The last thing both recalled before waking in the cabin of one of the bio-airships was drinking heavily in a tavern in Uxphon. Squint, carries himself as a warrior. His body is a patchwork of flesh and machine. John Smallberries was a dapper fellow who claimed to be an entertainer. We recruited them to our quest, explaining, as well as we could, the strange place that is the world below.
The dock was not the hive of activity one would expect of a commercial port. A small group of purple-skinned humanoids, whom Mor-Klish told us were the Dh’Lann, stood playing horns for a trio of giant, floating heads. Our Slithik host informed us that these were some sort of vehicle used by the Praithians. As we pondered our next step, one of the heads hovered over to us and introduced itself as the Contessa Kyyndance. How fortunate! We told the Contessa of our desire to retrieve the children and she promised to aid us and get us an audience with the Praithian King Umbral. She instructed a Dh’Lann slave to guide us to the Queen’s Head Inn where we would meet King Umbral.
Urbamorr appears to be a city in decline. Its buildings are crumbling. Mor-Klish explained that the Praithian’s hold little regard for this world, preferring to live in their dreams. The inn was an ancient tower and the top appeared to have crumbled away. We were given quarters, refreshment and some bowl filled with a gas. Many or our party partook of the latter – some more than others – reporting a strange dream-like experience.
While we explored the inn, we were contacted by, Breesh-Vass, a member of the Dh’Lann “underground” a group of slaves that had deactivated their control crystals and were fomenting revolt. They wished to gain our assistance in overthrowing their Praithian overlords. They somehow thought we could provide them weapons in return for the children. We were told that the king was mad and discovered that the Praithian princess is sympathetic to the rebel cause. We also learned that there is no love lost between the Dh’Lann and Slithik. We agreed to meet with the leaders of this rebellion and also considered contacting any Slithik who may be ready to rebel as well.
We eventually were summoned to an audience with the Praithian King on the “bridge” or top floor of the Queen’s Head Inn. A number of “mirrors” were arranged in the room and images of the Praithian we were speaking to appeared in the mirror so they were not required to leave their floating conveyances. Contessa Kyyndance was present, presumably as our sponsor. The king refused to release the children and provided no rational reason why they were required. He would agree to release them if at least two members of our party took their place in his menagerie. We politely declined this offer. He warned us of dire consequences should his wife ever stir from slumber.
We returned to our chambers after the audience and eventually left the inn in the company of Breesh-Vass, the Dh’Lann rebel we had met earlier. They led us through the city and we noticed that the gong used to summon the bio-airships had been removed from the dock. A huge, armored creature stood in its place. Our guide told us that it was a Praithian knight. Apparently King Umbral is concerned that we will return to the surface for reinforcements?
The rebel guide led us through many passages, some were warehouses stocked with food, others rooms piled with decaying machinery. Finally we met with one of the leaders of the Dh’Lann rebellion. Pon-Vass was suspicious of us. We have not mentioned it before, but the Dh’Lann are a hermaphroditic race and they view us as degenerates or deviants. We came to an accord that we would do what we could to aid them. Apparently the princess may be able to deactivate the crystals holding the Dh’Lann and Slithik in subservience. They also require weapons to fight the Praithians and while our party has a few blades and pieces of numenera, we cannot equip an army.
Icculus thought he could fashion some sort of ballista from the machinery we saw in some of the underground passages we had travelled through. Squint, Hex, Icculus and us searched the old machines for numenera. We discovered several devices that would help arm the rebels in these chambers, spending the remainder of the day fashioning weapons.
Axton and John Smallberries returned to the Queen’s Head Inn while we were so engaged. In our absence, Klaro had conceived another Abykos and it attacked Axton as he entered his chamber. He was able to disable the creature with the aid of Praithian dream vapor, but is unsure how long the creature will remain unconscious. This relationship between Axton and Klaro disturbs us. Klaro births one of these creatures each day and they quickly attack her mate. While Axton has fended them off so far, there may come a time when he is wounded or asleep and will not be so fortunate. We will consult the datasphere to determine if there is anything that can be done to prevent these creatures from coming into our world.
Enemies have become friends. We embarked on a strange journey and prepare to enter the City on the Edge.
We forged deeper into the mountain, following the deflated, yellow tubes into a large, circular room. A walkway encircled the chamber and a pair of circular staircases at its far side led up to it. The tubes each ran up one staircase and disappeared down two hallways on this upper level. Upon entering the room, we were assaulted telepathically and warned to flee from this place.
Shortly after, a mist appeared in the room and a giant creature formed within. We’ve seen nothing like it in our travels and we are not sure our description will do it justice… The body of the beast was translucent, gelatinous almost. Waving, tentacles or vines sprouted from the body. Two were tipped with what appeared to be metal shears or pincers. The head combined aspects of a plant and animal. It began moving towards us in a threatening manner. Again the telepathic message warned us to leave and suddenly a horde of smaller replicas of the creature materialized from the mists behind it. Something struck us as odd about the creatures. They were too translucent. We had little time to ponder the ramifications though. Not willing to leave the children captives, we assisted Mishka and Klaro to the balcony and climbed up ourselves. Our plan was to gain the top of the circular stairs and hold off the creatures there. As we sprinted towards them, the great beast slashed at us and its pincer passed through our body immaterially. An illusion! We spied a chamber with a smaller creature lurking inside and burst through blades ready.
The creature, a more man-sized version of the tentacled horror, cowered before us. Telepathically it cried that it was compelled to resist us, but did not want to fight. Upon examining it, we discovered a gem embedded in the back of its head. Shattering the crystal released the creature from whatever mind control had compelled it to attack us. It told us that its name was Mor-Klish and it was of the Slithik race that lived in the world below. Effectively, these beings are enslaved by means of some technology to a race of beings known as the Praithian. Mishka had heard of these creatures and that they had treated with the surface folk in ages past.
Mor-Klish agreed to help us find the children. It led us through a passage and helped us disarm some traps and doors, eventually leading us to a shaft that took us deep into the earth. We emerged onto some sort of dock within a huge cavern. We could see something that looked like stars above us and a strange airship was moored to the pier in front of us. Mor-Klish told us that these airships travel this cavern, bringing people and goods to the world below. We took passage upon the vessel, finding it crewed by a blue man, Klorsh and a young girl named Lebby.
Our journey was pleasant enough. The captain was a gracious host and Lebby was a precocious child. The vessel is actually some sort of biological creature. We suspect it is artificially grown since it is hard to believe that anything could evolve in this form. Lebby was eager to take us to a room in the vessel called “The River of Stars”. On our way Klaro, who had been complaining of abdominal pains, collapsed and a Abykos materialized from her belly, immediately making for Axton. Lebby calmed the creature with a gesture. Intrigued, we reached out to the datasphere and discovered that Klaro is actually a Nibovian wife. She still clings to Axton who seems nonplussed that his next “offspring” could very well attempt to murder him. A strange race these humans…
We spent time in The River of Stars and found it a most fascinating place. Our fatigue and wounds healed rapidly in this chamber. We saw many fleeting glimpses of artifacts and treasures that we had long sought out. We can see that it would be easy to drift off into the river and never return. Fortunately we did not succumb to its temptation.
The captain and Lebby told us that we should talk to a Praithian who goes by Contessa Kyyndance when we reached Urbamorr, the City on the Edge. They could tell us little of the city itself, though we discerned that all who inhabit it are either members of the Praithian or a slave race. We devised a fake crystal that we applied to Mor-Klish in an attempt to fool the beings of the city into thinking he is still a slave. We fear they will not stand up to close scrutiny, but it is the best we can do for now.