Friday, May 27, 2016

A Time to Kill

This was a brutal session, with the group plunging headlong into battle after battle, but they made it through intact, for the most part.

Book 2, Part A, Chapter 2: The Colorful Tribe (aka, Hunt the Wumpus)

After their, er, fun night, the intrepid explorers asked the natives a few more questions, including, "Is there anything unnatural nearby?"

A few tribesmen seemed a little uneasy, but refused to speak until Kiri and Julian put some pressure on them. Finally, they admitted that they knew where something like that was. The chief, seeing an opportunity, suggested that the group go after a large beast that had been bothering them; the creature like to smash stuff up, and that included their village. After a bit of fuming, the group set out on foot to find this creature, something called a wumpus.

As a point of note, this beast is an elephant-sized creature, with powerful legs and a huge buffalo-like head. Its mouth is set with rows of razor-sharp teeth, and the adult males have boar-like tusks.

What they found was a very large adult wumpus; as they were still at a pretty long range, they simply sniped at it until it keeled over. The noise, however, attracted the attention of the other denizens of the glade - two more males, four females, and four adolescents, or catty wumpus. The huge beasts began to charge, the young running to flank, and the males and females charging straight ahead. Well, they tried, anyway. The quick-drawing Gus blasted a boomer round into the middle of them, killing the male, a female, and two adolescents. I gotta figure out how to stop those things!

The rest continued to charge, though only one female made it through - with a roar, she ran down the android, trampling him into the dirt and causing him two wounds! Before she could turn, however, Julian finished her off, and Kiri brought down the last adolescent. They returned, somewhat the worse for wear, and quite upset at the tribe for putting them in such a bad situation. They packed up the jeep as the android patched himself up, with the help of the repair droid. Kiri was still wounded from the crash landing, too, which means that two of the three are rolling a little lower...

Chapter 3: The Gray Tribe

Just as they were preparing to head out, they heard deep grunts, out in the jungle. Within moments, they were swarmed by gray apes! The attackers looked like gorillas, but with flat, high faces and thin vertical slits for eyes. They have thin mouths and small, laid-back ears. They burst into the clearing, swarming towards the jeep. Though the group didn't know it, there were 200 of the nasty brutes. Kiri and Gus opened fire, killing a number of them; Julian gunned the jeep, rolling over 11 of the creatures! However, by the next round, the jeep had become jammed with the corpses, and Julian was unable to move any further forward. They fought valiantly, killing 23 of the creatures, but were eventually overwhelmed. Though they had little time to notice anything during the fight, they did see that when a gray ape was killed, it rapidly decayed, leaving nothing but bones within minutes.

Chapter 4: The Caves

Luckily, everyone managed to grab their weapons and other stuff, and the gray apes either didn't notice, or didn't care. Still, after a brief struggle, the apes subdued the trio. The android, obviously unable to be knocked out, was wrapped in vines and leaves, an organic snack with a crunchy center.

Julian and Kiri came to with a start; they were underground, and the whimpers nearby told them the colorful tribe were still alive, at least for now. They barely had time to cut the android free before chanting began echoing into the cave. While their translators weren't able to pick up the exact words, the gist was something like "Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn!" (HP Lovecraft? Anyone? No?)

Shrugging off the creepy chanting and the crying of the tribesmen, the three took a look around. They were in a dark cavern, with sandy floors; a steep slide lead back to the apes, and the cavern opened ahead. For ease of understanding, here is the cave itself:
Each square is about a yard.

The group began in the area marked 3. The cave is fairly wide, with a column in the middle of the room. Exploring ahead, Julian discovered a smaller branching cave, and a large door; the walls of the room around the door were covered in depictions of a huge, green monster, with a terrifying number of teeth and tentacles. Clearly, the chanting was an attempt to summon that monster...

Julian opted to skip the doors, and headed for the side tunnel (8, on the map). Breaking a glowstick, he peered into the inky darkness... and saw mummified bodies and piles of bones. Above his head, he heard clicking mandibles, and looked up to see a dog-sized spider slowly sliding towards him. Did I mention Julian is terrified of spiders? Oh yeah. The next thing the others hear is him "Nope!"-ing towards the far wall, hardly stopping to communicate. Gus and Kiri discussed a few options, before opting to have the slightly-less-digestible android fling a detpack into the room. Before he left, he took a quick look upward - not one, but four spiders, the largest the size of a horse. He quickly exited, hitting the detonator as he left, and reducing the spiders to smoking husks. No kill like overkill, right? Go big or go home... and get something bigger.

The spiders dealt with, the trio gave the huge doors a shove, and they swung open with a grating creak. At its widest, it stopped with a reverberating thud that echoed down the passageway. Sounds echoed from the tunnel: scraping noises and strange, high-pitched, wordless voices, just at the edge of hearing.

A big pillar supported the high ceiling; the passage split left and right. Julian opted to head left, towards 5, while Kiri and Gus took the right branch, towards the noises. At the next split, the two stuck together. The passage opened into a huge room (1); directly in front of them, a strange creature dropped from above, making... cooing noises? Behind it were more creatures, of various colors. They had no distinguishable features, though they were shaped like large, nearly human babies. Only made out of leather. Kiri, always the voice of friendship, offered one an exploding arrow; her quick reflexes were all that saved her arm, as the creature's head split into a huge mouth and slurped it up. Gus and Kiri ran for the exit, then re-enacted a scene from Martin the Martian, wondering... "Where's the earth-shaking kaboom?"

Instead of the whomp of a firey explosion, all they heard was a quiet thump... and a belch. On second thought, they decided to continue their retreat. Weird leather-babies that eat plasma grenades for breakfast may not be the best foes (and quiet right; the babies are nigh-on indestructable, and killing them would be really sad).

Meanwhile, Julian and his glowstick continued to map out the cavern. He noticed that the passage continues to slope downward; to his right (standing in room 5), he saw the slope was much steeper, and the room smells somewhat of snakes. Wisely, he avoided the area (anyone know what an Ankheg is? No? Google it!). Pressing on, he walked into room 6... and found the monster the apes were trying to summon. Huh. It's uglier in person...

The creatures slowly lurched forward, the smell of rot and filth flooding from it. The creature, 12 feet tall and covered in tentacles, slides on dripping goo... Julian quickly fired, blasting it with his laser sub-machine gun, but the shots hit its arms and glance off! He fired again as it slid forward, hitting its legs, and finally doing a bit of damage as a shot hit its head. Gus arrived in time to assist, blasting it with automatic fire. Between the two of them, they managed blow a hole in its head, killing... oh, wait. It didn't die. Instead, it slid backward as if... on a track? (It's a metaphor for how I railroaded the players into the caves... sorry about that.)

A small door opens, and four oddly humanoid creatures step out; two of them begin working on the creature, and the other two wave the group forward. Confused, the three approach. The creatures are obviously not gray apes; they are wearing uniforms, and while their faces are covered by helmets, they seem more human than any of the other creatures they've encountered. The group falls in, escorted by the guards. The cave quickly becomes a hallway, and the group passes what seems to be a... breakroom? Kiri and Gus are convinced that the entire cave is a ruse, perhaps a simulation; maybe even the entire planet!

At the end of the hall was a large elevator; the leader motions them aboard, then pushed a button. The doors open again, revealing... an office. The guard walks over to a vending machine, pressed some buttons, then hands out bracelets. Kiri puts her on, and discovered it has a small light that seems to point in a single direction, compass-like. The guard nods, points towards the door, and says something no one understands, ending with "Jinson." Kiri, of course, latches on to this word and yells it at anyone who stays long enough to listen. She bugs the two creatures at desks - one, a gray-skinned humanoid with a completely expressionless face, and the other, a three-armed, three-eyed typist, reading a book. The two shoo her away.

Outside is... inside. Only bigger. It's the outside again, only the ground curves up, not down. Directly overhead is a bright ball of light, sun-like in its illumination. Around them is miles of wasteland and jungle, curving up. The effect is mildly disturbing, as if you're at the bottom of a deep bowl.

There are many creatures outside: expressionless grays, creatures with more than the usual two arms and legs, small red-furred apes, and praying-mantis-like insectoids with humanoid faces. Following the bracelets, the group is lead to an important looking building; inside, a gray guard and an insectoid help the trio find a desk, where another insectoid beams at you, and scans Julian's bracelet. She says something, pauses, then starts reading off a list. "Engfeh Gurloo? K-k-k-zz-fff? Tuk su Nlowng? Eaoureesh? Do you speak Basic?" At Julian's affirmative, she stopped, typed for a moment, then scanned their bracelets again; the bracelets seem to do double-duty as translators!

"Luckily, we have Basic on file. It's pretty close to our language, anyway, so it's not a difficult translation. Anyway, you sweeties are all set; have fun! Oh, and I think Mayor Jibson wanted to see you, he's just upstairs. Ta ta!"

As they moved upstairs, a red ape carefully looked them up and down, then wandered over and puts its hand on Kiri's shoulder, staring up at her with its sad, liquid eyes, then handing her a note that read, "The Queen cordially requests your presence." It bowed low, then scurried away.

By the end, everyone ended up with a good share of XP, almost enough to level up just from that adventure alone. It was also a roar through Part A of Book 2, completing all four chapters in a single session! Now, however, school is out; we'll have to determine our schedule, especially since we have another group that is also meeting over the summer.

Regardless, join us next time (whenever that is) for Book 2, Part B, Chapter 1!

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