After defeating the dreaded Swamp Turtle, forcing the Red Silt Horror to turn tentacles and run and riding a nuclear missile, the party was more or less laid low by a bunch of thieving Ray-Coons tonight. The Ray-Coons, mutant raccoons that can shoot laser beams from their eyes (among other mutant abilities), proved to be one of my most dangerous creations to date. Working in a small pack, four of them managed to steal the party's jeep and killed two party members in the process. Worse yet, Dataan very nearly disabled the hovercraft by crashing it into a wall while attempting to dislodge two Ray-Coons from its windshield. As it is, the hovercraft has taken some significant damage to the skirt that holds in the cushion of air, so it is has lost a good deal of maneuverability and speed. So how did it all go down?
The party was split up into two groups, half of them scouting out the Redeemed City of Spanky Butt after hearing that a helicopter had dropped off a crack squadron of Knights of Genetic Purity there, while the other half of the party was back at the Badder warrens, enjoying turtle soup and moonshine and waiting for the morning when they had a scheduled meeting with Nicodemus the mutant mouse. Dataan was sitting in the hovercraft monitoring the video feed from the remote controlled robot dragonfly that Beyonce was piloting, and new party member Kunta Kinte (a 19' tall deaf giant with claws for fingers) was dozing off on the roof of the hovercraft. Things had been getting interesting over at Spanky Butt, so Bozko and Beyonce got inside the hovercraft just in case they needed to jet over to help their fellows. Kunta Kinte spotted movement in the cavern and saw some shadowy figure skulking around the perimeter of the cave. He banged on the roof of the hovercraft and pointed in the direction of the movement - Dataan flipped on the Swamp Orca's floodlights and aimed them in the direction that Kunta Kinte pointed. They saw a large raccoon, wearing a tool belt diagonally across his chest, frozen in the light.
Just about then, all the party members in the cave mysteriously took some damage from an unknown source. Kunta Kinte began looking around and spotted another raccoon flying around above the party and two more hiding on either side of the tunnel leading away from the cave. Bozko began shouting that raccoons travel in packs, then addressed the one that he had grappled, attempting to come to a non-violent resolution to this encounter. The raccoon inside his body laughed at him and did not respond in any other way.
Meanwhile, Dataan was still dealing with the hallucination of the giant raccoon monster, and started driving toward the exit in an attempt to escape from what he thought was certain doom. Two of the more mobile party members who were staking out Spanky Butt (Dante and Richard) took off back toward the Badder warrens (a distance of just over three miles), one flying and the other running in mutantly fast mountain lion form. Kunta Kinte began striking at the flying Ray-Coon above him, and all the party members again took damage from an unknown source (the flying Ray-Coon's vampiric field mutation, which drains HP from a 30' radius and adds them as temporary HP to the mutant). Despite scoring several good hits on the flying Ray-Coon, Kunta Kinte seemed unable to damage it (due to its temporary HP). Meanwhile, Dataan was still attempting to evade the giant figment of his imagination, which was blasting impressive looking lasers out of its eyes. Bozko, after negotiations and threats had failed to evoke any response from the Ray-Coon he was engulfing, grew a bunch of thorns around the creatures genitalia. Instead of hurting the Ray-Coon, Bozko felt the damage reflected back upon him and he realized that the maniacally laughing mutant had some sort of damage turning ability.
Several more rounds of generally unproductive tactics by the party passed as they continued to be drained of energy from the vampiric field. Dataan finally swerved the hovercraft around his phantom menace and drove into the exit tunnel, only to have the two Ray-Coons that had been waiting there jump onto the windshield and start smashing it with crowbars. He attempted to shake them off by throwing the hovercraft into reverse but failed badly at the dexterity check I had him make to pull off the tricky maneuver (Dataan is not the best driver in general, trick driving on turtle shells not withstanding), and he crashed the hovercraft into the tunnel wall. This did throw one of the Ray-Coons off the hovercraft, while the other somehow hung on and shattered the windshield with a mighty swing of its crowbar. It blasted Dataan with laser beams from its eyes, hurting the robot badly. Meanwhile, Beyonce had been riding in the back of the hovercraft and shooting at the flying Ray-Coon, but she was knocked around pretty good by the crash.
Bozko, who had sprayed his hallucinogenic spores into the face of his captive with seemingly no effect, decided that he would attempt to drag it under ground. As he was doing so, he saw that he was covered in oil dropped by the flying Ray-Coon, who then set him on fire with a well placed laser blast. Fortunately for Bozko, this was another illusion, although he was unaware of that. Thinking that he was engulfed in flame, he tunneled rapidly into the dirt, abandoning his captive. The newly freed Raycoon jumped into the jeep and started to drive off as the flying Ray-Coon swooped down and joined him.
Back in the hovercraft, Dataan had managed to slay the Ray-Coon that had shattered the windshield with a very well placed Plasma Pistol shot. His slave boys, however, had no luck whatsoever as they attempted to shoot the Ray-Coon that had been flung from the hovercraft with the craft's lasers. Seeing the firepower of the hovercraft, and not wanting to test his luck again, this Ray-Coon jumped into the jeep with its comrades as they drove past. It manned the heavy machine guns in the rear of the jeep.
Kunta Kinte had more or less turtled up at this point, he had activated his force field mutation and was hanging back out of harms way because he had born the brunt of the vampiric field and was severely injured. Bozko was underground, also severely injured until he used a mutation that allows him to restore his HP to full, and Dataan had to reverse the hovercraft out of the wall before he and Beyonce could do much. It looked at this point like the Ray-Coons had made off the jeep, but at the price of one of their own. And thats when the suicidal cavalry arrived on the scene...
Richard the Cat-Man came sprinting up the tunnel just as the jeep was rumbling down it. Without pausing to overthink things, Richard leaped onto the hood of the jeep and started unloading with his shotgun. He blasted the driver and the Ray-Coon manning the heavy machine guns, but the driver swerved and nearly lost control of the jeep when he was shot and Richard went flying. While he did manage to roll out of the way of the jeep and avoid being run over, he was a sitting duck for the gunner on the back of the jeep and ate a lot of hot lead. Richard died in the dust of the badder tunnel just as Dante the winged plant with grenade fruit flew on to the scene. Perhaps in a salute to Richard and his tactics, Dante barrelled straight for the jeep, grenade fruit flying. He did manage to kill the machine gunner in the blast, but was himself killed in mercifully quick fashion by the Ray-Coons laser eye beams. The jeep rumbled off out the tunnel and into the swamp as the surviving party members re-assembled in the hovercraft and tried to make sense of what had just happened.
Norman Harman said, in a comment on my recent post about the Swamp Turtle, "I suggest next you try the small, insidious, seemingly insignificant threat. That will lay them low if not properly recognized / dealt with."
I think this encounter was successful in that regard. When the party first saw a lone raccoon in the cave, they were pretty certain that this was no big threat. After the melee with the pack of Ray-Coons, they know better. But more than just the physical threat that the Ray-Coons provide, the psychological threat that they might come back to pilfer more of the player's precious artifacts is the true measure of the encounter's worth. As Dataan's player put it, "I'm never going to leave the hovercraft again. Those Ray-Coons may come back and try to steal it!"
I will present the game stats for Ray-Coons in an upcoming bestiary post, along with the infamous Death Bots.