Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Force Cage Death Match! (Session 51 Report)

That Wascally Wabbit

I am falling farther and farther behind the rabbit.  I still haven't finished session recaps from months ago that explain campaign changing events that are shaping the current game.  Tonight I decided to bravely soldier on ahead, damn the torpedoes, and recap last Sunday's game without sidetracking myself with endless digressions to explain the previously unmentioned.  So this may be a little strange and incomprehensible (even by the standards of my admittedly over-the-top, GONZO!!! Mutant Future / Fantasy Quirks campaign...).

Only six players showed up for the game this week, as James Bomb's player was travelling cross-country to Eugene on Sunday, Bozko's player had a ride fall through, John Doe's player had finals coming up and long standing scheduling conflicts prevent some of our original players from attending.  

Verisimilitude Be Damned!

One of the greatest strengths of my Mutant Future campaign is also its greatest weakness; from the beginning, I stressed that it was perfectly OK as a player to drop in and out of the game.  I wanted to encourage new players to drop in without feeling like they had to make a huge commitment; I wanted to encourage friends who might have one weekend free in a blue moon to drop in and play as a one shot character; I wanted to make this game as low pressure as I could by requiring as little commitment as possible from players in general.

On the pro side, this has led to me introducing a dozen brand new pen and paper RPG players to the hobby, and has led to me refereeing sessions with over ten players for the first time in my DMing career.  This has also led to some strange situations where PCs pop in and out of existence, because I always let everyone present at the start of a session play even if there is no logical way that they could suddenly appear in the action.  Usually I just wave the magic DM's wand and be done with it, but this week I had a meta-game conversation with the players present and asked that they not take actions to advance the game time past the big dance on Saturday that James Bomb had been invited to by the daughter of a leading Sottle socialite.  It was Wednesday in the game, so that gave the players two full days to play around with.

Of Mice and Men

The session started with a trip to the Mice of Camelot to pick up three mech suits (one custom built for Kazumi the halfling samurai and two of the generic mech models the mice use converted for human occupants, a Galahad model and a Robin Hood mech) and four suits of dog boy armor that were supposed to settle a long standing debt the mice owed the party.  While there the party had some liquid analyzed that had been swiped last session from a religious revival in the Sottles.  Chaplain Squaldorff, a long time nemesis of the party that first came to their attention as the religious leader of the group of Knights of Genetic Purity that invaded the Willing Mate valley a while back, conducted the religious revival and first dosed the usually placid and drugged out hillfolk men with an incense that appeared to be some form of amphetamine, then whipped their emotions up to a frenzy, and presented them with a communion of bread and "wine".

James Bomb drank some of that wine last session, and now the party (sans Mr. Bomb) learned what it was: a very potent male fertility drug.  Its effects:  Semen can survive nearly indefinitely without perishing; chance of fertilization is greatly increased; chance of the egg splitting into twins, triplets, quads or even more is over 50%; and offspring are at least 80% sexed male.

Further analysis revealed that James Bomb's semen could now survive even in the vacuum of outer space!  Party members snickered at the thought of what future sessions will surely bring...

The party had also left some alien technology with the mice for them to examine; the teleporter pods and repulsor carts looted from Celestia.  The mice made a major breakthrough with the teleporter pods (I let the party roll the mice's tech roll, and BJ used his d30 roll and got a 9 (on a roll low, d100, Mutant Future-style tech roll).  The mice had both identified how the teleporters worked (a mycelial tissue that generated linked portals with a "skin" of the shadow world between them), and had figured out that they could hack a pod to link to a different pod besides its original mate.  

The broadcast power units in the hovercarts that both powered the repulsors and served as a shield and environmental manipulator had also been reverse engineered to an extent by the mice, to the point that they added a strap-on repulsor flight system to the dog boy suits the party had ordered.  Most interesting to Tilandriel was that the broadcast power seemed to travel through the shadow world, but the machinery interacting with the shadow world was neither biological (like the mycelial tissues used to open wormholes by the Oozyxphg or the similar tissues in the teleporter pods) nor magical in nature.  The shadow circuitry seemed to be entirely created and sustained through controlled frequency and vibration modulation in an enclosed sound chamber.

 The shield technology, a way to extend the forcefields that the mice already used on their mechs out to a scale that could be useful for the party's hovercraft, had been difficult for the mice to crack but they did succeed to an extent.  The Swamp Orca now has an omni-directional 50 HP forcefield that refreshes at the beginning of each round. This shield could be focused down to a minimum of 90 degrees arc of protection, at 100 HP forcefield per round.  A control seat was added so that a party member could take direct control of the forcefield and sacrifice her actions that round to take total control of the shield.  

After the party had spent a good chunk of time with the mice, it was remembered that Beyonce Chai had obtained some strange dark berries from the purse of one of the well kempt Sottle women who seemed to be in charge of the herds of drugged men.  Talandriel examined the berries and discovered that the seeds seemed to be linked to the shadow, a one way connection that would allow something to enter this world from beyond.  Eager to test out another new piece of equipment (the result of an ongoing and fruitful collaboration between the mice and their technology and Tilandriel's elven magic), Tilandriel put on the scanning microscope attachment and turned his mind's eye inwards, looking back through the shadow portals that have replaced his eyes into the shadow world.  He traced the connections back from the seeds and soon realized that some sort of demonic beast could emerge to possess anyone eating the berries.

Someone had the bright idea that maybe the party could use the berries as a focus to gate in some of these demon-beasts so the party could test out the new mech suits in combat!

Force Cage Death Match!

Beyonce Chai was initially reluctant to go along with this plan, even though everyone else was quite taken with the idea.  Once Hag the hideous beastmaster offered to construct a magical force cage to act as a summoning circle, so that the party members who wanted to take place in the combat could be sealed in before the demons were even summoned, Beyonce agreed to give up a few of her berries to use as demon-bait.  Hag is a magic shaper, and last session she sacrificed an entire village of Sottle women (long story) to a demonic entity to double her Constitution, the stat which her force based magic relies upon.  As a result, Hag now has a lot of magical energy, and she successfully constructed a force cage summoning enclosure linked to the berries so that anything drawn through would be unable to leave the enclosure.  Some spiked walls and areas of floor that would trigger columns of fire were added to the force cage, and Tilandriel set up a magical trap that would drain some energy from the beasts as they passed through the portal.

Death Match, round one!  (Hag scouted around the ruined landscape and found a nice big Nash Rambler hubcap to bang on before each summoning...)

A single Blarg Beast came through, and Tilandriel successfully drained some of its energy, suppressing the time ripple effect that would normally surround the beast.  Inside the force cage, Brazier the giant half-orc hefted his new sword (a converted mech weapon, a force great sword with an 8' blade) and stood shoulder to shoulder with Kasumi in her new mech.

Danny's new character (can't remember his name right now), a dragonborn sorcerer made using 4e rules (yes there is a 4e character in my Mutant Future game), hid behind a wall in the force cage in the Robin Hood mech and readied its grenade launcher.

The first beast died before it got to take an action, there was much congratulating all around, and the decision was made to do it again!

Death Match, round two!  Ding!

This time, four blarg beasts came through.  Luckily, Tilandriel again managed to suppress their time ripple fields with his magical trap as they came through the portal.

With four targets, the party only managed to drop one of them in their surprise round.  Now we had a real battle on our hands!  The beasts have three arms, which they used to slash and grab their victims; a second slavering mouth emerged from their stomachs when they successfully grabbed someone.  They also had the ability to leap fifty feet up into the air and then shoot down like an arrow at a target, making a DEX 15 attack for 6d12+36 damage.  The first beast to do that would have killed Brazier, but he sacrificed his armor, leaving him standing naked in the arena wielding his giant sword.  He did not run as his comrades urged him to do.

Danny's character was also dive-bombed, and he had to sacrifice the brand new suit of +5 wooden chainmail that Tilandriel had made/grown and enchanted for him to survive the massively damaging attack.  He then found himself behind the wall of cover that he had been using, engaged one on one with a blarg beast.  Hag switched the force spikes from one side of the wall to the other, and Danny used a power that pushed the beast back into the spikes, just killing it.

The terrain hazards worked well, as another blarg beast was charging at Danny when Brazier used his wind controlling abilities to slam the beast into the force spike wall just as Hag caused the spikes to extend toward the beast.

The third beast abandoned Kazumi as the samurai mech had proven very difficult to hit and Kazumi's Dexterity is so high that the beast had little chance to land its divebomb attack.  It turned its attention to the naked half orc, who again narrowly avoided death when the beast nailed him with all three claws - which would have killed him, but his nictitating field saved his ass this time (a forcefield that flickers in and out of existence, giving a 50% chance of reducing each incoming attack by 10 damage) and prevented twenty damage, giving him just enough time to slaughter the beast with his greatsword next round.

Teach Your Children Well

Tilandriel divided up the magical energy siphoned from the beasts between himself, the artificial soul that he rescued from one of Corple's failed experiments, and the devil Seere (who he contacted last session and negotiated a complicated deal to obtain the devil's help and patronage in return for the soul of one of the telepathic hackers, if the party could free the souls from Mad Albert back in Celestia).

Tilandriel's player has been talking to me about raising the artificial soul and intelligence like it was his child, and has taken several steps toward that.  The shadow cube that houses the intelligence and the shadow circuitry that makes up its soul can also manifest a physical body out of shadow stuff, and when the party defeated one of Corple's shadow panthers a few sessions ago, Tilandriel was able to salvage some of its "shadow modules" (the shadow circuitry that allows the shadow panthers to take different forms and absorb mutations) and install them in his child.

This session, he actually sacrificed 3,000 XP that he was awarded to raise his artificial child up to 1st level.  He told me he is grooming the child to be his next character!  I love it.


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