Saturday, June 28, 2014

[Saturday Night Special] So I've been running this Mutants & Mazes Campaign

Well, last night was a wash. Between running errands, work, and a bout of food poisoning that kept me up till 5 am this morning (and thus caused me to call off at work and finally get some sleep this morning and afternoon), I've gotten nothing done. Missed out on Freeform Friday, and still haven't gotten around to writing a review, so I figure I'll write about my ongoing, irregular Mutants & Mazes campaign I am running.

It is set in the Realms of Murikah, in the Midzee Lands, specifically, in the hilly borderlands between Awbash, Free Ohyo, and the Great Ohyo Forest (starting in Hex 1028, for those keeping track). Here is found a small independent village known as Sanktree; whether the name is derived from Sanctuary or from Saint Tree, no one knows, but the great millennia-old Kwerkus (intelligent and psychically-powerful mutant Oak) that is the leader and heart of the village might mean it is a bit of both. The villagers have always welcomed those who are friendly and seeking shelter, regardless of the reason, provided they were willing to provide for the common defense and work for their own keep.

Near the village is an ancient ruin of stone and glass; there the Professor resides, a pure strain human who has deep knowledge of the artifacts of the Ancients. Some say he is also powerful in the ways of wizardry; but as he is both mostly sane and usually harmless, he is at least not a Sorcerer-Scientist.

The Professor, together with his friends and allies, are the protectors of Sanktree. As such, he recently sent out several young, footloose, and perhaps dangerously bored adventurers on a mission. His "instruments" he said, had been picking up strange signals on the "radio-band frequencies," in a code he believes is used by the pirates of the Midzee. So he sent a group of young adventuresome-types off to check and make sure everything was OK to the north...

Till Millstone (1st level Hobbit Magic-User/Thief) and Killniss (1st level Elf Ranger): Till and Kill were adventurers in 4th Age Middle-earth who went down the wrong tunnels in the ancient ruins of Angband, emerging in this strange new world of weird magic and super-science.

Jesika (1st level Pure Human Cleric of Apollo) and Sol-Re (1st level Mutant Human Fighter/Mutant Master): Jesika is an outcast from the Temple of Apollo in New Manpoor, where her faction (the Greek pro-Mutant faction) recently lost out in an internecine struggle with the Roman anti-Mutant faction (sponsored by the temples in the Empire of Man). Sol-Re, a weak-willed kind of fellow, has been her personal bodyguard ever since he accidentally slew her brother in a battle.

Tinman (1st level Basic Android Fighter) and Lizzardo (1st level Mutant Lizard Mutant Master) are the Professor's adoptive sons; the one found bereft of programming on a battlefield, the other found half-dead alongside a river bank.

Feu (1st level Pure Human Fighter/Magic-user) and Skweeker (1st level Mutant Rat Thief) were also exiles from New Manpoor, Feu having sought shelter from the guild of wizards from which he stole, Skweeker from the band of thieves to which he formerly belonged.

They ran into trouble almost immediately as they traveled north, for at a local crossroad in the trail they encountered a band of Pig-Man; fortunately, they caught them by surprise, and made short work of them. However, now warned that danger was far nearer than they ever expected, they kept on toward Bobburg, the next nearest settlement to the north, with much more caution.

When they reached Bobburg, they discovered that it had recently been attacked; the wooden palisade was still burning. They went in to investigate, and found that everyone was gone... all the bodies, villagers and attackers, had disappeared. When Lizzardo went and checked the tavern/inn on the village green, he found the remnants of the villagers... they had been re-animated as Zombies

Thus began a furious battle between adventurers and zombies, during which the necromancer, Walpurgo, challenged the adventurers from his window in the great suite of the inn. Arrows and even bullets bounced away, for he had some sort of protection against common missiles. Black lightning shot forth from his staff and blasted Lizzardo, who, then flying and shooting wildly, fell to the ground and was quickly consumed by the ravenous zombies. 

But even as he was laughing at this victory, Tinman lifted and aimed his plasma rifle (40 watt range); the magic shell around the necromancer glowed briefly, then faded quickly as its creator was all but disintegrated in the blast.

The adventurers lamented their lost friend, and after deciding that not enough was left for a funeral, went into the tavern/inn to loot the place. There they discovered a slug-like being, cowering and hiding; a Sloogah accountant, the assistant/apprentice of the necromancer. He warned them that if anything happened to him, "they" would be very angry. Then after attempting to get one over on the adventurers with a sleep spell, he was cut down by Tinman.

Up in the grand suite they discovered the ashen remnants of the necromancer, alongside his staff and a pair of night-vision goggles. When they picked up the staff, it whispered dark things to them, so they immediately threw it down and rolled it into a bag. When they tried to get into the chest against the wall, Feu discovered much to his chagrin that the runes he found upon it weren't simply warnings, they were an actual curse! One failed saving throw later, Feu is possessed by a fiend, and cackling "I'll swallow your souls" at his friends.

Sadly, they were forced to kill him, as they had no way of driving the spirit forth. After giving the chest wide berth and throwing Feu's bullet-ridden corpse out the window, they slept for the night. The next day they were awakened by a great horn sounding from the distance. When they went to investigate they discovered that a group of Hwiska vikings, foot and horse, had arrived at the gates, and were calling for Walpurgo. The group thought to bluff their way through things, though they had the halfling (invisible through use of his magic ring of invisibility), behind the leader of the vikings just in case.

Things went down pretty well as expected, and as the leader was giving the order to attack, a halfling appeared on his back, for with a roll of "Natural 20" and an "Instant Kill" roll on the critical hit table, the halfling took out the big-bad in one shot. Sadly, the viking's morale held, and they still pressed the fight. Killniss used his one-shot bazooka device to take out half the vikings in one fell swoop. Then during the battle it became apparent that the herald of the leader was also a Basic Android, much like Tinman, with whom he went toe-to-toe. When Tinman's two-handed sword skewered the herald, it grinned, then clicked, and started counting down... "10... 9... 8..." and everyone, vikings and adventurers alike, ran like hell.

So few were caught in the blast, impressive as it was. The surviving vikings fled, and the party retreated to lick its wounds. They then decided to investigate the rest of the tavern/inn, and were rewarded with finding a secret tunnel in the cellar. The tunnel, it turned out, went to the Bobburg Tower, a great standing stone of glassy black stone that the mysterious, reclusive, and never-seen Bob apparently lived in, or did at one time, for no one in living memory could remember having seen Bob.

The party then discovers why, as the tunnel leads, after some trouble (a big metal gate with push-button lock; "666" being the proper code, of course), to an Ancient underground shelter, where they discover a run-down metal-skinned android. This they give some power, by jury-rigging a power bypass from Tinman. The android Bob greets them merrily, and says he will help them however he can; it turns out that he was the founded of the village, helping refugees after his owners in the complex died of unknown causes. They then use his guidance, fractured as it is, to check out the rest of the complex; all is abandoned, powered-down, the hydroponics section overtaken by living, angry fungi (avoided), and the nuclear power station, after opening the door, obviously irradiated (I warned 'em, I did). All the treasures were long ago looted by Bob to help the people of Bobburg.

Then they have Bob show them the way up, into the tower. There they discover that there are many rooms pristine and un-spoiled, save by time, most with some sort of government-style shield on the wall or official-looking desks. They find several security-bots, most of which seem to be out of power or shut off; one of these, however, comes to life and shoots at them when they try to open a certain door. With a quickness none thought possible of her, Jesika takes out her needler and blasts it, even as with the other hand she takes its slug-thrower from its hand...

And that was where the last session (third session thus far) ended... and we pick up again tonight.

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