Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Holy Crap! I have time to write a post! (Mutant Future sessions 34 - 37)

Well folks, looking back at my last post I see that I drastically overestimated my ability to keep up on this blog.  Not a single 2e Tuesday post.  Sorry!

My weekly Mutant Future game has become an every other week affair, but the players are taking the campaign in interesting new directions.  I want to briefly outline what has happened since the players stole an alien spaceship in an alternate dimension that they were visiting.  This is still going to be a very long post even if I skip a lot of the details.

Sessions 34 - 37 have all taken place on the ship, although at the end of last nights session the main body of the ship was destroyed and the party barely escaped in the detachable flying saucer top of the space ship.  The flying saucer was heavily damaged and the party more or less crash landed it on a rocky planetoid.

The party took a while to feel out the ship.  A character death had necessitated that Danny roll up a new character during the session that the party stole the ship (alas, Rok was decapitated during a duel with an Elf Champion), and he made a robot using the optional rules I introduced here and here.  I let him roll twice on the optional Industrial and Civilian feature chart and once on the mental mutation table and he got the Plane Shift mutation.  Of course, this meant that he had just used his ability to materialize within the alien ship the day before the party stole it.  He had been working on interacting with the ship's computer the entire time, and spent much of the next two sessions pursuing this strategy.  His ability to wirelessly interact with the computers within 50' of him (thanks to that handy optional chart) let him attempt to do the job of a crew of humans on the bridge.  He spent a lot of time doing tech rolls and coming up with new and creative ways to use the ship's computers and attempt to wrest control of the computer systems from an unknown super-computer that was manipulating the ship's data feeds. 

One thing that the party learned right away was that one quarter of the ship, a large wedge, on two levels, had been completely disconnected from the ship's systems.  What lay in that large area, behind sealed bulkheads, the party had no way of knowing. 

Other party members familiarized themselves with the large weapons control deck and the robotics control deck.  Bob the mutant human had a great deal of success in figuring out how to remotely control what turned out to be a veritable legion of robots of many different varieties. 

An army of robotic minions was sent out to explore the ship when it was discovered that the optical feeds coming in from the ship's cameras were being tampered with by an unknown super-computer that appeared to have direct access to the ship's bridge.  It gradually became apparent that there were "invisible" creatures stalking around the ship (at least two of them were confirmed by reconnaissance squads in different locations simultaneously), but as they were cloaked from visual detection and the feed from the ship's sensors was being manipulated by the unknown computer the only way of detecting them was relying on the sensors of the robots directly controlled by Bob the mutant human in the robotics control center.  Attempts to engage the invisible creatures led to the destruction of numerous robots and no further knowledge of the invisible assailants

Amusingly, Shazaam attempted to "figure out" the weapons control system.  This was a complex touchscreen interaction with visual tracking that allowed the user to pull up enormous targeting windows along the outer wall of the deck.  Having already failed to understand the interface, he informed me that he was going to "press some buttons".  I had him roll the dice.  He rolled the worst possible result that he could of.  Everyone in the party stopped as I laughed and told them what happened next.  Shazaam had activated an emergency defensive sub-routine meant to be used as a last resort when taking intense enemy fire.  He diverted all available power to the ship's shields and the weapons systems.  The ship shut down all non-occupied areas, powering off life support and diverting everything to the shields. 

The party held its breath, looking at monitors depicting an inky black ship.  Over in the bridge, Volcom (the plane shifting robot computer tech) managed to restore the ship to its normal operating parameters but multiple alarms demanded his attention.

Entire decks of cryo-chambers had opened, releasing a bizarre horde of part plant, part animal monstrosities.  Stang, the giant mutant wasp with four defective paranoid brains, leapt at the chance to rush into action. 

I probably shouldn't go into detail with the battles that raged across the ship, first with the newly awakened abominations (this battle was actually mercifully short thanks to grenades and an entire legion of robotic defenders activated by Bob to aid the party) and later with the invisible assailants.  These turned out to be shapeshifting plant-toads that walked upright and had enormous gaping mouths (I used the Grey Slaadi stats from the Fiend Folio, with a few tweaks:  150 HP, flame strike does 15d6, and they could transport themselves with/transform themselves into their "ball of lightning" ability which I left at 8d6+6 damage).  The creatures proved to be quite formidable.  One showed up in the bridge in the guise of a holographic doctor that had been activated during the accidental ship-wide power shutdown. 

The party was all too eager to believe in the holographic doctor, especially as he told them a lot of information that made sense.  Eventually, the ruse was revealed and the toad-thing attempted to slay the party in the bridge as another attacked the party members that were down in the lower decks.  Nothing the party tried seemed to be able to hurt the creatures.  Even mental mutations seemed to work only infrequently (I applied the Grey Slaadi's 55% magic resistance to mental mutation attacks and the party wasn't trying the "magical" weapons they had, two long swords +3 of light from the elves and several glargore weapons from the badders).  At one point James Bomb received a wound and an egg pellet was implanted in his arm by the toad-plant.  He panicked and fled, tying off his arm above the wound and blasting his own forearm off with his laser pistol as he retreated to the med chambers.  The elevator let him off in a strange, plant covered chamber and it took all his wits to evade another toad creature that came looking for him.  Back in the bridge, Shazaam had realized that his elvish Light Sword could injure the creature and the tide of battle turned.  The toadstrosity retreated.

I have to mention one epic moment:  a later battle pitted Shazaam one on one against another Slaadtastic Plant Toad.  Dr. Hops the mutant were-rabbit lay dead at his feet, victim of the Slaadi's flamestrike which thankfully Shazaam had succeeded in his saving throw against.  The slaad traced a strange symbol in the air and projected energy through it - Volcom's player Danny made a specific point to mention that Volcom was watching this symbol closely over the monitors from the bridge - and Shazaam and Volcom promptly became blind.  In the case of the robot Volcom, his optical sensors were still working but his processors had lost the capacity to crunch the visual feed and he had no image to work with.  Shazaam hefted his Light Sword and made a called shot to the neck, an attempted decapitation, acknowledging my admonition that he would be at a severe penalty to hit due to his BLINDNESS, and...  rolled a natural 20.  He cut the thick head off the shoulders of that thing, and then stumbled off to the med labs.

Several sessions slowly revealed that the entire ship was riddled with a single organism, an immense plant that had filled the ventilation systems, the spaces between decks, and presumably had a main body in the section of the ship that was sealed off from the party.  Sorties into this sealed section revealed rooms of robot plant cultivators tending to small "sapling" versions of the death's-head tree the party had encountered at the elven castle.

The party had also been experiencing symptoms of a physical ailment, symptoms that manifested for some of the party members as bloating and discomfort in the bowels and in others as sinus pressure or a sore throat.  Eventual scans revealed that an alien organism was growing inside most of the party members (Bozko never ate any elvish food and Volcom arrived in the spaceship without contacting the elves at all).  It appeared to be forming a second nervous system that was intertwining itself along and around the nervous systems of the infected party members.  Of course, many methods were tried to remove the organism but it was too closely linked to vital nerves to allow for any surgical extraction and the robot doctors warned strongly against even attempting it.

The party gained access to what appeared to be several thousand years of ship's medical logs - apparently, the ship had been cruising around space for over 5,000 years acting as the host of the parasitic alien plant-creature.  The plant creature infected the original crew of the ship and once the alien nervous systems grew inside the crew members, the plant-creature sent out signals that activated the alien nervous systems and seized control of the crew members' bodies. 

I wish I had time to go into the biology, philosophy and survival adaptations of the alien creature and its offspring because it is really fascinating but I don't.

Long story short:  A violent struggle for control of the ship broke out between the alien plant-creature that filled the ship and the party, who holed up in the bridge.  The bridge and the other three important main decks were all located in a detachable portion of the spaceship, a large flying saucer that also contained the weapons systems but not the hyperdrive.  The party eventually cleared the entire flying saucer level of the alien plant creature and achieved a stalemate of sorts as both sides waited for the ship to complete its jump and come out of hyperspace.

The second the ship returned to normal space Volcom initiated the detach flying saucer sequence.  The party had prepared for this moment by hacking into a section of the ship's life support code and eliminating the barrier on how hot the internal temperature could be raised to.  Then, the party had activated the sprinkler system and filled the hallways with mist.  As soon as the flying saucer was clear, Volcom was cranking the heat inside the main body of the spaceship up to nearly 1,000 degrees.  The plan was to steam the vegetable, as it had been proven earlier that head dried up and killed the mycelium-like tissue of the plant-creature. 

The plant-creature proved to be a wily adversary as well, jettisoning four large sections of the ships hull that opened into the sealed plant-sections of the ship and revealing four enormous "arms" of plant matter, that reached out thousands of feet and snagged the flying saucer as it was attempting to fly away.  Twisting and turning, pulled by the long plant-tentacles, the flying saucer and its crew blasted away with the pulse-laser cannons and soon succeeded in destroying the arms that bound the ship.  Volcom steered the flying saucer a safe distance away and the rest of the party remained in the weapons control deck, manning pulse cannons and missiles aimed at the ship "just in case". 

Soon, two cloaked slaadi flew out after the flying saucer.  Impossible to detect except as a void where background radiation should have been coming through, the slaadi proved difficult to target with the pulse cannons and were dangerously close for missile fire.  The slaadi took advantage of this moment of confusion and transformed into lightning ball form and travelled at the speed of light to directly outside the saucer's hull, from whence they sent lightning balls inside the ship to attack the party.

The slaad attempted to tunnel in to the ship, but Stang picked one of with the pulse cannon, overcoming its energy resistance (55% magic resistance) and utterly obliterating it with something like 780 damage done with the one shot (the ship-to-ship pulse cannons do 1d100 x 10 damage).  The second slaad made it into the walls of the ship and was eventually stopped, but not before severe damage was done to the computer and life support systems in the bridge. 

Volcom piloted the crippled saucer back close enough to the mother ship to be able to wirelessly tap into its computers (the transmitter in the saucer had been damaged beyond repair and the party had lost all feeds from the mother ship).  Once the party had access to the feeds again, it became apparent that the plan was working.  The alien flesh was being slowly cooked, and it looked like within five or six more hours the middle of the alien creature would be "done".  Mmmm, roasted alien mycelial networks. 

Suddenly, a huge ball of the creature shot out from the spaceship and began hurtling away into space, apparently making a break for it.  As the astonished party swung their weapons toward it, they saw it preparing some kind of energy charge that it was aligning toward the main body of the ship.

Volcom diverted all of the shields to directly between the flying saucer and the main body of the ship, just before a nuclear explosion happened in the chamber recently vacated by the plant-creature.  The ship was ripped to shreds and then disintegrated, but the alien creature had readied a shield of energy to "surf" off the explosion and accelerate away.

Luckily, the shields held because of Volcom's last second maneuver, but the power resources of the flying saucer were almost completely drained.  The party did manage to destroy the alien creature with pulse-laser fire as the explosion was happening, and then eventually Volcom armed a missile with a planet buster and sent it off after the creature.  Once it got within a few hundred miles it detonated and annihilated the plant.

Stang remarked that she kind of missed the plant now, because she had really gotten to know the tricky creature after several sessions in a row of fighting against it.

Volcom piloted the saucer to a nearby rocky planetoid that the party had previously scanned.  It contained a robotic automated mining station but no life forms. 

And there you have it folks, the extremely brief version of what has been going on in my Mutant Future campaign!


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