Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Night of Terror, Confusion and Love in an Elven Castle

(also known as Mutant Future sessions 30&31 Recap)

Yes, this is what it has come to in my Mutant Future campaign.  My group of lecherous characters (lecherous players?), upon finding themselves invited to stay the night with a bunch of beautiful, tall elven folk in a castle on a lake, immediately set about none-too-delicately feeling out the likelihood of a midnight rendezvous with one of the Queen's three lovely daughters.  Or one of the daughters of the Elven Nobility who joined them at dinner.  Or one of the mothers of one of the daughters of the Elven Nobility!  Of course, this last proposition was broached by the mother in question, one Yarro, to James Bomb (self appointed "faceman" of the party and ladies' man of interdimensional repute), while she responded to the latter's questions about the sexual practices of her people.  Yarro explained that according to the laws of her people, both sexes had to remain chaste until marriage, but once married sexual dalliances were permitted and common.

While this was not originally what Mr. Bomb had been hoping for, he is ever one to adjust to a new scenario on the fly and he smoothly segued into making an appointment with Yarro for the wee hours of the morning.  She was to come to his room, as the party had been rather strongly "asked" to remain in their chambers after nightfall while staying as guests in the castle.

Some backstory may be in order (and a fair warning may be in order as well - I feel a long post coming on...) before I proceed with relating the events of the evening (which occurred during Sunday's Mutant Future session).

You may recall that the party was contemplating travelling through a dimensional portal to a land covered in purple goo where elves fight dragons.  Apparently, catching a glimpse of a possible future that included swords emitting beams of light and dragon loot was enough to persuade our stalwart band of mutant heroes (troublemakers?) to abandon their swampy home for some new digs.  While the party currently has two members who possess the Plane Shift mutation, one of them had already used their mutation this game week so the party was guaranteed a stay of at least five days in the other dimension until he could open another portal back to the Mutant Future we all know and love.

So off they go.  The party that stepped through the portal consisted of James Bomb, Bozko (giant shapeshifting nettle plant; possesses an "iron man" suit), Stang (21' long Wasp with four extra malfunctioning brains exhibiting the personalities of the Beetles), Bob (the mutant human incapable of feeling pain), Dr. Hops (the "were-rabbit" as his player likes to call him; capable of teleportation),  Rok (mutant human apparently made out of obsidian; one of the plane-shifters), Shazaam Alottapus (precog and the other plane-shifter), Pliskins (the man who can turn himself into a sugar glider - the myth, the truth, the legend!; precog with gamma-ray eyes), and Saurus (the empath who can turn himself into a velociraptor.  A Jurassic Park velociraptor, thank you for much, and keep the turkey-sized dinosaurs for yourselves).

Pliskins in Sugar Glider form

This is a pretty normal amount of players for one of my Mutant Future sessions.  Seven to nine is the norm, more than the three or four that I often hear bandied about as the "ideal" size of group for D&D.

When the party first entered the strange land, events proceeded more or less how Shazaam had foreseen them.  They found a tall elf clad in shining platemail, wielding a glowing sword that shot beams of light at a great green-scaled dragon.  With one well placed shot, Shazaam distracted the dragon and the elf lopped its head off in one clean motion.  Despite the language barrier, the party and the elf made their introductions.  When some party members began trying to remove scales from the downed dragon, the elf vigorously stopped them, gesturing at a castle that gleamed in the middle of a lake.  A large raft bearing two sturdy wagons was making its way across the lake to the near shore of a thickly wooded forest.  The forest ran up almost to where the party and elf stood, and beyond this point the world appeared to be covered in a fleshy purple substance that formed faces in the hills and seemed to slowly stretch and breath.

Not wanting to offend the knight (and possibly more than a little bit afraid of the lethal sword that hung casually in his hand), the party waited calmly while the wagons trundled through the woods up to them.  A crew of hairy, 3 1/2' tall beings quickly and silently dismounted from the wagons and began efficiently dissecting the dragon.  They unfurled coils of a nearly invisible wire fitted with handles on either end.  These they used to slice the dragon into rounds as easily as you might push a butter knife through warm water.  When the wagons were loaded with the remains of the dragon, the elf gestured for the party to climb aboard and they all retired to the castle.

Along the way, they noticed that the trees ran in perfectly straight rows, as if they had been planted.  When they crossed the lake on their way to the castle, they saw a huge, serpent like form swimming deep in the lakes depths.

Stang, who had been acting like an unintelligent beast, had chosen not to accompany the party and started to fly around the area.  She saw that the purple mass covered everywhere she could see except the small one mile radius patch of forest surrounding the lake and castle.  She tried to fly higher to get a better idea of exactly how far this purple substance extended, but her terrible eyesight and the quarreling voices of the Beetles in her head made this mission impossible and she rejoined her companions.  As she was flying toward the castle she did see something the rest of the party had missed - on top of one of the two highest towers in the castle was a rooftop garden that appeared to be constructed in concentric circles around a tree on a pedestal.

In the meantime, the elf had taken the rest of the party through the gates of the castle, across a courtyard and into a large hall where they were introduced to a regal elf wearing an ornate dress and a crown of silver.  She appeared to understand the party when they spoke, and responded in their own tongue.  When the party inquired if there was any way for them to communicate with the other elves, the queen apologized for her rudeness and procured a set of necklaces from an extra-dimensional place.  Placing a necklace over the neck of each character, she told them that as long as they wore the necklaces, they would be be understood and would understand any spoken language.

The queen then introduced her three daughters, pale skinned and black-haired like their mother (and in marked contrast to the blonde haired gent with the platemale and light-sword), who showed the party to their guest chambers and told them that a dinner would be held in their honor in one hours time.  Mr. Bomb, Shazaam and Pliskins were all trying to make a move on one princess or another, but none seemed affected by the strangers' charms.  Around this point is when Stang returned, still pretending to be a dumb beast of burden for the party, and Dr. Hops "put her" in the stable for the night.

At dinner, much was learned about the elven people.  Apparently, this little patch of forest was the last bit of this world not covered by the purple blight, which spawned the dragons and other monsters that sought to destroy the elves.  Only the bravery of the three Champions, each wielding a mythic weapon and wearing plate-mail handed down through generations of Champions, prevented this last bastion from succumbing.  The party seemed to buy this explanation, but some members asked probing questions about how this came to be, and what happened to all the rest of the elves people.  These and all other questions about the past were met with a smile from the queen, a slight tilt of her head, and the sudden loss of the train of thought in the questioner's mind.

The dinner was attended by a number of couples identified as "nobles", who shared the generally tall, lanky and blonde haired appearance of the champions.  Indeed, only the queen and her three daughters had black hair and dark eyes.  The guards stationed through the castle grounds ate separately.  Acting as waiters during the meal were more of the short, hairy individuals who had butchered the dragon.  They moved just as silently and efficiently in the delicate ballet of table service as they had while field dressing a dragon.  In fact, only one of these creatures was heard to talk all night, an individual who self-identified as "Grosso", who got into a conversation with Dr. Hops about a servant's role.  Grosso did not appear to be unhappy with his lot as a servant to the elves, and Dr. Hops pretended to be the party's servant in a plan to possibly gain access to the servants' quarters of the castle later on.  One highlight of the meal was Pliskins' ill-advised use of his precog ability.  He decided to foresee the consequences of asking the queen f he could "hook-up" with her daughters (or some such crude and not very courtly at all language).  He died too quickly in his precog to be able to tell what happened, which meant that in real life his body slumped unconscious over the table for ten minutes!

As the last courses were being served, a petulant elven youth strode down the main stairs into the dining hall and took his seat at the end of the table opposite the queen.  She introduced him to the party as Prince Coriander, and he immediately started grilling the party about their presence in his castle.  Sensing a bit of hostility from the prince, James Bomb attempted to smooth things over but ended up saying exactly the wrong thing and really setting Prince Coriander on edge.  Soon, Coriander challenged Mr. Bomb to a friendly duel after dinner, a practice fencing match "to first blood".

(read this blog post to find out what mechanics I use to simulate a master fencer)

Rok, Shazaam and Pliskins all instantly volunteered to take Mr. Bomb's place in the practice ring against the prince, and it was agreed that they should all retire to the practice chamber after dinner.  The rest of the guests socialized while the servants cleared the hall in preparation for a dance.  An orchestra of the hairy shortlings assembled and began to play otherworldly waltzes.

Meanwhile, Prince Coriander had handily defeated Rok, who is easily the parties most impressive physical combatant.  The Prince's triumph was short-lived, however.  Amazingly, Shazaam managed to score a hit and win his match (I had some epically bad rolls for the prince), and the Prince seemed to warm up to them after that.  More importantly (in Shazaam's mind), the princess that he had is eye on seemed quite impressed with his swordsmanship.

The evening concluded with a tour of the castle grounds and an admonition to be back in their rooms before dark.  They were warned that once the two moons came out, terrible creatures would emerge from the night. The characters learned that the elven guards had orders to kill anything that moved inside or outside the castle at night, as the monsters could take many forms.  Basically, the PCs were told to remain in their rooms OR ELSE...

So of course a good portion of the party decides to go exploring around the castle in the middle of the night.  A new character suddenly materialized in Dr. Hops bedroom (IG-88, the Haiku Magician robot) and it took a little while for the tensions to simmer down and the party to accept that IG-88 meant them no harm and was merely an interdimensional traveler like themselves who had become stranded at this particular spot and moment through sheer happenstance.

Bob opened his shuttered windows and began surveying the night landscape.  He noticed that in the reddish light of the first moon, the forest around the castle had assumed a radically different appearance.  What he had seen as trees in the daylight now appeared to be machinery of some sort, injecting a needle-like device into the ground and plunging it in and out repeatedly.  He notified the rest of the party of this over their com-links.

Pliskins used his precog ability to imagine assuming sugar glider form, gliding down and around the castle to the boats, and attempting to take a boat across the lake.  Just as the raft had done when the laden wagons had pulled onto it earlier in the day, the boat took off apparently under its own propulsion as soon as Pliskins turned back to his normal form and sat in the boat.  Pliskins ended the precog when he foresaw the large serpent-like creature in the lake rear up and reveal itself to be Zombie Nessie!

Stang discovered a secret passageway in the wall of the stable, and after determining that she would have a difficult time navigating the corridor beyond it, she asked if anyone else in the party would like to come down and explore it.  Bozko had opted to stay the night outside in the castles courtyard, hidden in tree form among the trees of the garden.  He reported that all seemed clear.  The only life to be seen was the castle guards at their posts.  Pliskins glided down to join Stang and ventured down the hallway beyond the secret door.  Sliding open the panel at the end of the hall, he found himself peering into a workshop filled with what appeared to be the servants busily splitting beams of wood off of strangely uniform, 12' blocks of perfectly straight grained wood.  The servants seemed to have undergone some kind of transformation and were now completely covered in long black hair, to the point that no skin was visible at all and their suddenly red, glowing eyes gleamed from the backs of hairy pits.  

Despite their spooky appearance, the servants did not seem to notice as Pliskins cautiously entered the room in sugar glider form.  Nor did they notice when he hurled a small chip of wood at one of them.  Looking around for some place to hide, he scurried over to a large pile of wood chips that a small robotic bulldozer seemed to be forming as it traversed the room, pushing the debris created by the busy servants in front of it.

Pliskins buried himself in the pile of wood chips and used his precognition mutation to see what would happen if he just walked up to the large double doors that seemed to be the only exit from the room and pushed them open.  Just as he opened the doors, something jarred his body in the present and he came out of his precog to find himself enclosed in some kind of box, jammed tightly in with all the woodchips.  Unable to escape, he asked for help over the com-link then foresaw what would happen if he simply assumed his human form while trapped in what seemed to be a 2' cube.  He died instantly in his vision of the future, again causing him to pass out in real life for 10 minutes.

Some pretty good hilarity ensued when Pliskins' player realized what he had done.  "I think I just put myself in a wood chipper!"  he announced to the group at large.  Everyone laughed when they realized he had hidden himself in the waste pile which was probably bound for a compressor, or furnace, or chipper, or any number of other horrible places which everyone was bandying about.

Stang, realizing she was the only one near enough to be able to help Pliskins if he were to be in immediate danger, squeezed her bulk through the hallway and calmly entered the room of woodworking servants as if she belonged to be there.  They payed her no attention at all, silently sidestepping to avoid her 21' long body as it filled the side of the chamber, then resuming their work.  She surveyed the room and saw the little bulldozer robot carrying a 2' metal box in its scoop.  It set the box on top of a stack of 7 other boxes so that it now formed a cubic load, and the wagon began trundling itself toward the double door.  Stang swiftly reached out and grabbed the last box from the top of the wagon, hoping that it contained Pliskins.  The wagon proceeded through the doors which quietly opened in front of it.  A gruff voice in the hall commented on the missing box,

"Oi.  Looks like the line is messing up again.  Short one box."

Stang did not wait around, clutching her purloined box to her abdomen as she rapidly made her way back through the secret passageway to the stable.  She was completely unable to open the box, which was made of an unidentifiable metal and had no obvious seams.  In the end, Dr. Hops had to borrow Saurus' vibro-knife (in my campaign a vibro-knife or sword is basically a light saber) and teleport down to the stable to cut Pliskins free.

Meanwhile, Bozko had grown weary of waiting to see if anything happened in the courtyard.  He turned himself into root form and began traveling through the dirt toward the wall underneath the window in his room.  He learned two things during this journey: the dirt in the courtyard was synthetic in origin, completely lacking the normal compounds that he associated with the breakdown of organic matter into dirt; and there was a rhythmic pulsing noise coming from deep underneath the castle.  He decided to investigate the noise and ended up breaking into a natural cave with a steel door set in one wall and a ladder down a chute in the floor.  Hiding on the ceiling, he knocked on the door and observed the first Champion they had met come out and survey the cave.  Bozko's camoflage worked, as the champion did not notice him even when the champion held up his sword and illuminated the cavern with a blinding light.  Bozko noticed that the features of the champion seemed more bestial than he had remembered, even through the obstructions of his ornate helmet.

After trying and failing to sneak into the hallway beyond and nearly getting killed when a guard saw a strange moving patch of fungus on the ceiling and slashed it with his energy sword, Bozko beat a hasty retreat for the surface and returned to his room.  Before this occurred, he saw the Champion return with a hideous figure wearing the clothing of the queen; this figure was green skinned and totally bald, with desiccated facial features and bright yellow eyes.

After Bozko got back to his chambers only Pliskins was not in his designated room, as he had decided that he was not finished exploring the room full of hairy servants.  He once again used his precognition ability to foresee re-entering the woodshop, and saw that a figure wearing the robes of one of the elf nobles was working on the bulldozer robot with his back to the secret panel.  Pliskins (in his vision of the future) walked boldly into the room and strode up far enough to get a good look at the noble.  He saw a werewolf in elvish clothing.

 Pliskins instantly blasted the werewolf in the face with his gamma eyes, rolling a natural 20 and doing a ton of damage.  The werewolf responded by biting his head off, killing him for the third time this session in a precog and yes, causing him to pass out in real life for 10 minutes.  This time, he was also near death from the accumulated damage he had taken in his precogs (every time you die in a precog, you take 2d6 HP real damage).

Two more notable things happened this session.

When Stang finally fell asleep, she had a vivid dream.  She saw the planet from above, completely covered with the purple substance.  Then she saw an egg-shaped spaceship descend from above and land in one of the many small lakes that dotted the surface of the purple expanse.  Soon, elves emerged from the lake and began destroying the purple substance, laying out strange oil-derrick like structures where they had cleared the purple flesh from the ground.  She awoke with the profound conviction that the elves were invaders on this planet, intruders set on destroying the natural life of the world.

And James Bomb slept with a werewolf.

Yarro showed up at his room just as they had planned, and Mr. Bomb decided that while he had not expected such a rough and furry lover, it was in his own best interests to get as close to this valuable informant as he could...


  1. Actually I succeeded in getting into the hallway it was when I decided I wanted to get out that I got caught, gotta love the ability to of a shape shifter to play possum though, when you collapse into a puddle of goo not a whole lot of folks think your still alive.

  2. @ James (AKA Bozko) - Yeah I know. I glossed over the details there because the post was already REALLY long. I glossed over a lot of stuff actually, but I think I covered the main things that happened.

  3. Well, now that we know they're exploiters, we may have to do the "honorable" thing and take the elves back to the mutant future with us. . .

  4. Informing Mutant Lord: You have a spam comment n this post.



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