Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Into the Jungle in Urutsk

I've been playing in an ongoing campaign set in Urutsk, with The Grand Tapestry serving as referee, and Fantasy Heartbreak Workshop as my teammate. I like to take a few notes as we play, and I've had a little more free time lately, so I'm trying to turn a few more of my notes into session reports.


Waking once more in the security office, Merope and Slunk decided to continue exploring the ship. By this point, they had deduced that they were on a vessel engaged in a generations-long voyage, that something had gone wrong causing at least the partial collapse of ship-board society, and that perhaps relatedly the ship had been invaded by monstrous outsiders. At this time, it seemed to Merope and Slunk that parts of the vessel's crew were still wearing the uniforms and following the rules laid down by their ancestors, but that other descendants of the initial travelers had fallen into savagery. They also assumed that the ship was still on its long journey, possibly traveling between the stars themselves.

Poking around a bit in the security office, Merope and Slunk found gas masks and canisters of some kind of crowd-control gas. Out in the hall, they met a badass warrior woman whose body was adorned with paint and tattoos and a scanty outfit made of colorful fabric that was also tied as streamers at her joints. The warrior woman wore a headdress of two wings that appeared to have been made by cutting up a metal can from one of the ration packs. Assuming that she was a native of the ship, Merope attempted to trick the warrior woman with one of her many failed gambits. (Throughout the time I played her, Merope's attempts at subterfuge never worked, usually because her lack of knowledge about her situation forced her to make many assumptions, and whenever one of those assumptions proved false, it also proved to the person she was talking to that she could not possibly be who she claimed.) Merope initially claimed that she and Slunk were part of the crew of the ship, but that they had become disoriented when the invaders attacked. The warrior woman said that was unlikely, since the attack had occurred before the ship crashed. Surprised to learn that the ship was no longer traveling, Merope tried to recover her lie by claiming that of course, it must have been the crash that confused her and caused her to forget that the ship was no longer being invaded. The warrior woman again demurred, pointing out that the ship had been crashed for a thousand years, and asking Merope and Slunk who they were really, and how they could be so unaware of their situation.

Slunk took over the conversation, using his smooth charlatan speaking voice to reveal how he and Merope had come to be aboard the ship. The warrior woman seemed impressed with Slunk's story, and introduced herself as Anjalik. When Slunk inquired how she'd learned these things, since the crew they'd met earlier seemed unaware, Anjalik revealed that the ship was not only crashed, it was broken open, and that she had enetered from outside on a scavenging mission. She was very interested to see the red cube that Merope and Slunk had arrived in, "the breach" as she called it. Slunk agreed to guide her to the cube in exchange for Anjalik guiding Slunk and his companion out of the ship when they'd finished. They successfully navigated their way back to the red cube's location, but when they arrived, it wasn't there anymore. Merope and Slunk expected a cube-shaped hole in the ship where it had been, but there was none. Somehow the cube had been able to pass through the solid matter of the ship as easily as two hair combs intertwining their teeth.

With "the breach" a dead end, they decided to consult Slunk's electronic familiar, Clippy, to find some high-value salvage to haul out of the ship. Clippy located a janitorial storage closet nearby. Their initial search of the room found mostly cleaning supplies, but on further questioning, Clippy pointed them to a pair of large boxes, which turned out to contain Sensoriums, ancient high-tech audio-visual entertainment units. Anjalik said she knew a place they could sell them, and thought that the pair of Sensoriums would fetch a pretty high price. Since the objects were fairly large, about the size of a small bookcase each, Slunk decided to test one before they went to the trouble of carrying them out. He found the interface a bit confusing, but was able to ask the machine to produce some "barbarian entertainment."

The three immediately found themselves in a cave, being attacked by neanderthals. Partway through the battle, Slunk was gored almost to death, and they realized that they were inside an immersive holographic illusion, and were able to shake off the most convincing aspects of the experience. They also realized that several animals had wandered into the open closet while they'd been experiencing the illusion, and that it was these alien beasts that had injured Slunk. Merope fired her handgun at the nearest one, and the super-heated projectile it fired annihilated one of the creatures ... and splashed enough molten metal around to set the whole room on fire. The other two alien quadrupeds broke morale and ran from the burning room. Anjalik managed to rescue one Sensorium, while Merope helped Slunk escape the room. In a moment, a fire suppression system turned itself on, dousing the room in wet foam. Slunk insisted on collecting a few cleaning supplies to sell from the now-soggy room, trying to salvage a few more coins once they learned that the second Sensorium had been rendered inoperable by being exposed to fire and then drenched in water and foam. Anjalik offered to carry the surviving Sensorium out strapped to her back, and encouraged her new companions to follow her to the "trade tower," where they'd be able to sell it.


After finding an exit from the ship, Merope, Slunk, and Anjalik almost immediately found themselves in a humid jungle. The ground around the ship was swampy, the trees nearby had orange and yellow leaves. Over the course of the day, these changed to yellow and green, then green and blue, as they traveled away from the ship. Merope and Slunk were amazed by the double canopy overhead, and by the riot of life that buzzed around them. Merope saw six-legged lizards and furred snakes, alongside nearly every mundane variety of small forest creature she knew from the forests of her home.

Once in the morning, the trio crossed a game trail, but didn't see whatever beast had made the tracks. Around lunch, a mist of drizzle filled the air, and the group took shelter under a large tree. Anjalik explained that rain was common here. After the rain tapered off a bit, the group set out again, and crossed another game trail as they continued on their way. Late in the day, a heavy rain started, then deepened into a thunder storm. Anjalik spotted a treehouse, perhaps a hunting cabin, and the three took shelter for the night, a decision that seemed particularly wise as the storm worsened.

Partway through the night, the door to the cabin opened, and a figure let himself in. The figure turned out to be a short man, seemingly wizened with age, wearing only a loin cloth and teeth, revealed when he smiled, that had been sharpened to points. Anjalik seemed respectful, perhaps even frightened of the man, and explained that the cabin was available to any traveler, and that sharing during storms was not uncommon. The man seemed pleased to see the group, and cleaned under his sharpened, pointed nails with his wicked hunting knife. Slunk decided to offer the visitor a ration pack from the shipwreck. Merope debated trying to convince him to overdose on stimulants, but Slunk and Anjalik were both frightened of what the hunter might do if he became agitated from the stims. (This is another of Merope's failed stratagems.) Slunk managed to indicate how to open the can of potato crisps to the hunter, who seemed pleased by the popping sound of the lid, and by the salty flavor of the chips. Seeing that he was pleased, and hoping to avoid any violence, Slunk offered him a second ration pack, which the hunter happily accepted. Later, with his hunger sated, and the rain stopped, the visitor turned to leave, then turned back, and spoke to the group.

"It's interesting to see how people will treat you when they think you can't understand them," he said to the three, then explained that he and his brothers were master hunters, that they had killed many men, and become strong by eating the flesh of their enemies. The man also claimed that he had grown to become the strongest of all his brothers by hunting other versions of himself from other worlds, killing them, and eating their strength. Slunk hereafter dubbed this visitor "the fine old cannibal." (The referee also confirmed that this NPC was a fairly high level fighter, and that our only chance to survive the encounter had been to make nice. The world of Urutsk is filled with high HD dangers.) In the morning, the three friends prepared to head out again.

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