Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Black City Game 9: The Hatch of Doom


This game report features player characters dying in horrible ways.  Reader discretion is advised.

At the end of last week's game, the doughty group of player characters were led by the dark elves to a distant part of the undercity, many hours walking to the north, to an as-yet unexplored part of the dungeon.  Agnar was returned to the mortal world from the realm of Svartalfheim, and the Dokkalvir disappeared back to their own realm through the same portal.  They left behind a chalk wall sketch of the undercity with annotations - the players learned the location of an ice cave far to the north east under the city, where a group of dark elves led by Gunlaf was presumed missing; one of the central tunnels was marked "the Jotun's Head"; the area they were near was circled and a note about seeking "adamant" was penned next to it.

Agnar himself was not unfazed by his experience in the otherworld; the Queen of Air and Darkness had shown him frightening visions of the near future, and he was able to relay the following mysterious prophecies:

First would come the fish men, men wearing large scales like the sides of a fish; the player's ship, the Isgerd's Fury, would burn to the ground.  A great king would die, dark clouds would obscure the horizon, and then a massive fleet of viking raiders from a far off land would arrive on the island.

With those introductory notes out of the way, the players got down to the serious business of planning.  Cursory scouting of the area near the elf lair revealed a ladder heading up a shaft to a frozen hatch - another way up into the city.  They were so far north under ground, the hatch exit would place them in the city beyond the Great Glacier.

A number of options were floated around the table and voted on, but somehow opening the hatch and emerging into the city won the day.  It was only later, after all the screaming and the dying, that the players second guessed whether opening the hatch was actually voted on and won by a majority vote.  Nonetheless, Dag the Unwashed forced open the hatch and emerged into a grey, dreary section of the ruins, with drifts of untouched snow covering the street.

The whole party emerged blinking into the daylight, staring up and down a snow-covered street.  To the south, a large open plaza revealed a wide 20' tall platform, with giant stone heads on the edges.  A large cave was formed in the rubble nearby, where a few tumbled blocks created a natural void.  The group split up and started combing the area, looking for things.

A thing was indeed found, an arm-length metal device that resembled a crude blunderbuss (actually, in my notes it's referenced as an Unstable Hyperborean Artifact™ ).  They set about chiseling it out of the ice with hammer and spikes.

I should also point out, prior to the digging, Shamus used the levitation belt to float up into the air and scout the surrounding hexes.  When he did so, one of the stone heads on the large plaza to the south spiraled into the sky in parallel with him, and shot a gout of energy out of it's mouth his way.  He made it to the ground before the beam got him, and the head retracted to ground level and went sessile again.  "Wow, this part of the city has its own anti-aircraft weaponry", quipped Shamus.  "They don't like anyone flying around".

The ghost looked like this, but with a bulbous alien head.
While the group chiseled out the blunderbuss, Bottvild noticed an apparition appear in her peripheral vision.  A gaunt, emaciated alien head and torso, trailing off into mist below the abdomen, floating into her field of vision, it's teeth clattering in its skull.  She made her saving throw vs magic, and didn't run in fear or age 10 years.  Then everyone got the chance to roll a normal initiative.

The ghost broadcast a vicious telepathic message to the characters; the gist of it was, "You fleshy meatbags, crawling over the bones of my city like pink maggots, you're all going to die…"

A few characters acted before the ghost, and readied missile weapons or melee weapons, but ran away in fear (and aged 10 years) after beholding the monster and failing their saving throws.  The ghost, for its part, used magic jar to leap into the body of one of the NPC's, possessing him.  A couple of the guys continued to work on freeing the Hyperborean artifact from the ice, and Shamus set about aiming it into the sky and trying to activate it.  It fired a cool energy beam like a phaser.  One of the fighters decided to grab the possessed NPC in an armbar, while someone else slugged him in the jaw to knock him unconscious.

By now, the group had figured out they're facing a ghost, a monster far beyond the capabilities of 1st level characters, and they realized this part of the ruined city is all business; it was time to run.  Mustafa went sprinting after the characters that were fleeing in fright, hoping to run them down with his 18 dexterity.

Shamus and Dag the Unwashed decided to head back into the dungeon on their own, but first Shamus wanted to fire the Unstable Hyperborean Artifact a second time, this time targeting a nearby section of ground to see what it would do.  He rolled that 1-in-6 chance it would detonate, and it did indeed blow up, vaporizing Shamus, killing Dag, and ruining the group's Levitation Belt.

The ghost hopped out of the unconscious NPC and took over the body of another person,  a player character, Gareth.  Once Gareth was under control, the ghost ran him down the street towards the plaza of the watchers, where Gareth was incinerated by the stone heads a moment later.  They were down three characters now.  The ghost would ultimately claim a 4th victim, jumping back into the NPC's body, animating it, and running it off into the kill zone at the plaza, too.

Alas, dear readers - I'm out of time!  This session report waxes long.  I'll need to pick it up again with part two, when the characters run into a second ghost in the same session - the next ghost being the Psionic Ghost of the Hive Mind.

Here's how the lineup looked after the night's carnage:

Cast of Characters
Mustafa of Arabia, a scimitar wielding desert warrior
Dag the Unwashed, a fighter
Brutok the Strong, a dwarf
Shamus  Bloodstar, a Gaelic wizard
Gareth, a Norse Fighter
Agnar Beigarth, a Northman fighter
Borghild, a Norse cleric

Retainers / Fighting Men:
Ayerick the Young, Bjorn Fjordrunner, Grimson, Aldi
Others:
Skoldig (specialist), Brick Bunnybreaker (halfling), Bottvild (cleric)