Thursday, March 14, 2019

Play Report - I2TO Salt Factory

Over the winter holidays, Joshua Burnett from the Bernie the Flumph! blog ran an Into the Odd adventure, and I had the opportunity to play in it. I thought at first it might be something Chris McDowall wrote for Electric Bastionland, because the description of the exterior of the salt factory was pitch-perfect in terms of my understanding of the setting for I2TO, but later discoveries inside the factory revealed similarities to some of Josh's other ideas.

My initial character for this game was "Pinky", so named because of her resplendent all-pink outfit. (Picture noble attire from the Revolutionary War / French Revolution era, complete with tricorn hat, just all in various shades of pink.) Pinky was joined by one-armed "Lefty", Bob, Aldo, and "Pithy", who started the game with a magic book that let him speak in a universally-understandable glossolalia language.
This crew of five down-on-their-luck Bastionians heard a rumor that a safe route to an abandoned salt-processing factory had recently been discovered in the Underground. They sensed a business opportunity in "salvaging" materials from the site, and hired famed underguide Nix Perpendicular to lead them to it. Nix also brought along a handful of replacement characters "tourists" to help pad out his billing. The journey was uneventful, passing mostly though Bastion's enormous sewers before abruptly arriving in a large cavern. The stalactites here were all made of salt, and refracted their torchlight like rainbows.
The salt factory looked like a pile of red-painted metal cubes, stacked and overlapped seemingly at random. It stood at the center of the cavern, surrounded by a lake of milky white liquid. A bridge made of large copper plates sitting on thick copper cables hung over the lake and led to the factory. The bridge led to a large red-metal door. A rickety iron catwalk wrapped irregularly around parts of the factory as well. Nix took them as far as the bridge, then sat down to play solitaire dominoes and informed the adventurers that he'd wait 8 hours, and not a minute longer. Aldo looked across at the factory, and tried to persuade Nix to stay for 12 hours. Nix eventually relented and agreed to 10, but now sat grumbling about how his wife would be furious with him for coming home late.
The group worried that the bridge might be electrified, but couldn't see any obvious power source connecting to it. Bob and Aldo went across one at a time without incident. Lefty went next, and halfway across, the copper panel he stood on started tipping from side to side. He made it safely across, but the plate toppled into the milky liquid, which seemed to boil and froth as the plate sank into it. Pithy tiptoed up to the gap, then tightrope walked across the gap between the plates. Pinky ran across the bridge, sending the whole thing swaying violently, and threw herself across the gap, just making the long-jump to safety.
The group assembled on the scaffolding in front of the main door. It was painted red, but the metal underneath was obviously badly rusted. The lock was pitted and salt-corroded. Lefty decided to follow the scaffolding around the building. On one side, it came to a dead end where the metal had rusted away and collapsed. On the other, side it led to a side-door. The group decided to force open the main door, which screamed as metal rubbed against metal. Worried about the noise, Pithy used his book to call out greetings in the universal tongue, but received no reply. They forced the door the rest of the way open and went in, finding what looked like a locker room or break room, coated in a layer of clear salt like glass. They saw four workers "flash-frozen" in salt sitting at a table where they had been playing cards. There was a metal staircase leading up, another leading down, and a door leading straight out.
They quickly case and search the room. Pinky opened the door and found that it led out into a long hallway. Lefty checked the card table to try to steal the bets, but saw only a handful of coins. He also saw a brass key hanging from one of the worker's belts; when he grabbed it, all four dead workers and the table and chairs shattered like glass and crumbled to the floor. Lefty tried looking nonchalant, but did stoop to recover the handful of coins from the floor. Pithy searched the supply shelves and found a cigar box full of over a hundred silver coins. Bob located a powerful aetheric torch light, although it had no battery.
Instead of using any of this room's exits, the adventurers decided to check the side entrance. They used the scaffolding to go around the building, although it too began to groan and sway ominously as they walked. This door was covered in peeling grey paint, and was locked tight. Pinky got out her pocket watch and set an alarm to go off in 9 hours' time. Bob got out his portable ram and eventually managed to batter down the door, though each hit from the ram echoed like a crash of thunder. The door opened to reveal an anteroom, with its floor covered in hundreds of knife-like salt shards growing up from the ground. They decided not to risk the catwalk again at this time, so Bob used his ram to sweep a path clear, creating noise like a thousand shattering glasses as he did. The group went through the room and opened the door to the hall, with Pinky standing ready with her musket to cover their progress.
The hall is empty of life, though they find a bank of lockers along one wall. They begin breaking them open. Pinky found a worker's protective gear - coveralls, safety glasses, and hardhat. She decided to put them on over her clothes, which were already getting coated in salt. Lefty found a "World's Greatest Dad" mug. Bob found a musket, but having one already, gave it to Lefty. Aldo found a security guard's armor. Pithy found an aetheric battery that could fit into Bob's new lantern, and when they put it in, it lit up double bright.
The first room they found off the hall had large hole corroded into the floor. Shining Bob's lantern down the hole, they saw a catwalk running around the wall, and a distant floor probably two stories below. They also heard the faint sound of a baby crying coming up from the hole. In a building that had been abandoned for decades, maybe centuries. They quickly backed out of the room and keep exploring.
Down the hall they entered another room. The walls were decorated with crude graffiti of slogans like "HONEY YOU NO EAT!" In the corner of the room was a glass insect's nest swarming with what look like red-glass ants. Through the glass walls of the hive they saw a reservoir of opalescent liquid. Pithy used his magic book to try conversing with the ants. He heard them say "Work work work work work." Pithy tried asking politely for the ants to give him honey. They began scurrying around, clearly agitated. "They want to steal the honey! There is naught but work! There is naught but honey! Release the alarm pheromones!" Only a moment later, the floor shook and they both felt and heard footsteps running toward them down the hall, and a voice screamed "Who's stealing my honey?!"
Pinky looked down the hall and saw the silhouette of a black bear charging toward them. She tossed a bomb into the hall and ducked behind the doorframe. The bomb exploded, wrecking the hall, but the vantablack bear kept coming, though its movements were slowed, and it was bleeding profusely. Bob popped around the corner and got off a shot with his musket, finally felling the beast, which looked like a perfectly flat, perfectly black silhouette no matter which angle it was viewed from. Bob and Pithy went into the hall to skin the bear. Lefty used animal repellent to disperse the ants, who all fled for the corners of the room. Lefty used his new mug to scoop up some of their opalescent honey, while Pinky broke off a honey-filled chunk of the hive and wrapped it in the leather apron that came with her new coveralls. (3 doses opalescent honey, effect unknown.) Bob donned the bear pelt like a cape, wrapping its arms around his neck. Pinky smeared bear's blood on her face, hoping the smell would frighten off any other animals lurking in the ruins.
After their harrowing encounter, and with the structural integrity of this whole section of the building compromised by the bomb blast, the group made their way back to the security door, and used the scaffolding to return to the main entrance and the salted-over break room. On the walk around, Bob used his new aetheric lantern to inspect the exterior of the building, but the magi-technical light didn't reveal any new features. In the breakroom, the stairs leading down seemed bent out of shape since the last time they were in the room, and the door to the hall had been broken down. They decided to go upstairs.
Up the stairs, the group arrived in an office with a half-dozen ruined, salt-crusted desks. Pithy found the least damaged desk and searched it, discovering a ledger that recorded the production of various metallic and mineral salts, measured in archaic units that no longer had any meaning. He put it into his pack next to his magic book. The other desks were too badly damaged to recover anything. Pinky checked the office's door. It was decorated with a brass crest like a swarm of serpents with red jeweled eyes. As Pinky got close, the eyes lit up and she heard the hum of electricity. She backed away, and the sound stopped. Lefty inspected the door, and the whine started again, louder than before, and the air began to smell like ozone. Lefty took out the brass key he stole earlier and used it to unlock the door, and the mechanism powered down again, although Lefty's hair stood upright.
Through this protected door, they entered another room where the walls were covered with glass screens, mostly broken and burnt. In the center of the room was a throne with an emaciated corpse wearing strange mechanical armor, somehow wired into the rest of the room. As they stepped closer, the corpse opened its eyes and looked directly at them. "Have you come looking for work?" Speaking for the group, Pithy said yes. "Very well. Report for work at the refinery on Floor 5. Here are your pass keys." As the corpse spoke, four red metal cubes shimmered into existence in the air in front of them, and each explorer grabbed one. Pithy asked how to get to the fifth floor, and the figures eyes turned somehow angry and it began standing up out of the chair. "Between Floor 4 and Floor 6." They all quickly backed out of the room, and as they left, the corpse eased itself back into a sitting position. They shut the door and Lefty locked it behind them.
They returned to the break room and went down the damaged stairs, and at the bottom saw a sign saying "6". The room the stairs lead to looked horribly corroded, and there was a dead dog lying in the middle of the floor. Pity used his book and asked "Alive, woof woof?" but got no response. He approached, and the floor collapsed under him. There was a sickening thump and then silence from below. Bob tied a rope around his waist and the other end to the stairs and rappelled carefully down through the hole in the floor. Pinky approached the dog, saw that it was wearing a bejeweled collar with a tag that said "Rex", and managed to work it free from the corpse. She put it on, thinking she might be able to resell it later.

On the level below, Bob found himself in some kind of workshop for assembling clockworks. Pithy's dying body lay in the middle of the floor. Bob managed to revive Pithy and gave him some water to sip. They heard the sound of at least two crying babies coming from just beyond the room's doors. Bob quickly retied his rope around Pithy, climbed up to the floor above, and then with Pinky's help, hauled Pithy back into the corroded room. Just then Aldo came staggering down the stairs from the break room. "Oh thank god!" he exclaimed in relief, "I thought I lost you guys!" Bob swore under his breath. "Goddammit I thought we lost that guy." The others showed Aldo their hand-sized red cubes. They were all perfectly shiny and clean - the only things in good condition they'd seen so far - and appeared to be identical.
Aldo tries to impress his comrades by breaking down one of the doors leading out of the room, but although they look as corroded as the floor Pithy fell through, they're remarkably solid. After making a terrible racket, he finally managed to kick one down, then drew his long-axe and led the way into the hall. They came to a room with a catwalk around its perimeter but no floor, and a hole corroded into the ceiling. A story below them, they saw a large chamber filled with pipes and vats, but no obvious way to get down. Aldo led them around the catwalk to another door, this one in much better condition. Aldo tapped the door, and something tapped back twice. He tapped again, and got another two taps back.
Aldo asked "Is anyone there?" A voice answered "no!" Aldo asked again, "Could you open the door, please?" The voice answered back, angry, "You open your door please!" Aldo remained polite, "But we asked you first?" The voice became even angrier, "Don't talk to ME about politics!" Aldo stepped aside to let Bob have a try. Bob noticed a keyhole with dim light coming through, and more dim light spilling out from under the door. "I'm Bob" he tried, "What's your name?" The voice sounded less angry this time. "Bob, Bob, we're all named Bob." Aldo piped up "I'm Aldo!" but the voice corrected him, angry again, "No, you're Bob." Bob tried passing his red metal key cube through the keyhole, and a moment later they heard a grinding, crunching sound. "Po-ta-to chip stale" said the voice behind the door. Unfortunately, they also heard another sound, a tinkling and clinking like glass and metal bumping into each other. Three multi-legged crystalline creatures came onto the catwalk, using the door the party had entered through.
Sensing that it would take too long to talk their way through the door, Aldo rushed the creatures with his long-axe while Bob, Lefty, and Pinky let off a volley from their muskets. The creatures were quickly reduced to shards. Pinky sifted through the wreckage and found a fang that she thought she could use as a dagger. (d4 damage, STR save or lose 1d8 STR due to electrolyte leech.) With their immediate problem resolved, they turned back to the door. Bob tried again, "Would you like another potato chip?" The voice seemed agreeable, "Yup, just go ahead and slide that under the door there." Bob had them right where he wanted them, "I'm sorry, this one's too big to fit under, you'll have to open the door." The door opened out toward Bob, revealing a filthy humanoid with red rimmed eyes, a lengthy beard, scabrous leprous skin, wrapped in bandages. Bob screamed in horror and kicked the door closed, it bounced off the humanoid, knocked it to the floor, and rebounded open.

As the door swung open, the adventurers had only a moment to take in the scene, the floor covered in filthy carpets and a dead body, and a half-dozen more bearded, bandaged humanoids staring out at the party with revenge in their red-rimmed eyes. Bob fired his musket, instantly killing another of the horrible men, and Lefty and Pithy joined to kill two more. Aldo yelled "I really don't want to be doing this!" before charging into the room with his long-axe. Two of the awful men leapt onto Pithy and Aldo and began scratching and biting them with their filth-crusted fingernails, their slavering mouths. Pinky executed Pithy's attacker with her musket, and Aldo managed to kill his with his axe. Pithy approached Aldo and poured rum onto his already-infected wounds, drawing a yelp from Aldo.

Searching the room revealed mostly more layers of blankets and rugs, all soaked with sweat and other ordure, but also a metal card with a key pattern cut into it, and a glorious bejeweled halberd, which Aldo took. The horrible men had barricaded the only other door out of the room with piles of rolled-up carpets, and graffiti reading "BEWARE THE DESPICABLE INFANT!" was scrawled near the door. They listened at the door but didn't hear any crying this time. A second door out was secured with a simple latch.

Bob led the way this time, through the un-barred door and down a hall that was lit from the far end by a vibrant green glow. They arrived in a room that seemed to be filled with light, all emanating from a smooth crystalline statue of a naked woman, who shone brighter than the aetheric torch with sickly green light. The statue stood on a plinth with a dusty sign and a level. Pinky got close to wipe the dust from the sign so she could read it. It said "QUEEN PLUTONIUM, OUR LADY OF HIGH ATOMIC WEIGHTS", and up close, Pinky could see that the statue was hollow, made of clear glass and filled with a glowing green liquid. Everyone took cover behind Aldo as he prepared to flip the lever from a distance using the tip of his new bejeweled halberd. The liquid began pouring out of the statue's mouth, viscous and ooze-like. As the liquid level dropped, the group could just see the handle of a sword floating suspended in the liquid. Pinky shot the statue with her musket, causing it to burst open, and the ooze splashed out all at once and started advancing toward the party. Pinky ran forward, leapt over the ooze, and grabbed the sword in its scabbard. She nearly wrenched her arm from her socket; it was incredibly heavy. Aldo tried to hold back the ooze with his new halberd, but only succeeded in slicing it in half. One side of the bisected monster approached him and burned his clothes and flesh as it lashed him with pseudopods. The other reared up and crashed onto Pinky like a wave, and as it flowed away from where she'd stood, the only thing that remained was the dull-metal weapon. Aldo lit and dropped the bomb he'd been carrying and chased everyone else back into the hall. After the explosion, no trace of the statue or plinth remained, although the room still glowed faintly green, and the sword laid undamaged on the floor.

As the party watched, the other door to the room popped open, and in walked "The Brain," a handsome, intelligent fellow with an Orson Welles voice and only one arm (and my second character). The Brain picked up the sword, pulled it from its scabbard to examine it. He saw that the blade was a beautiful, almost glowing metal beneath the dull grey of the lead scabbard, but also realized that it was too heavy for him to wield effectively as a weapon, and so strapped it to his back as a collector's piece. (d10, ignores armor, chance of radiation poisoning, requires 13 STR to use.) Retracing their steps, they returned to the first room they encountered on this level, the one with the hole at the bottom of the steps that Pithy earlier fell through. They used the rope they'd tied off earlier to rappel down into the clockwork workroom.

This time, the group searched the cabinets of the workspace. Bob found a bomb, Lefty found a rocket, and Aldo found some very high-quality tools. Bob and Pithy listened at the two doors leading out of the room. One was silent, the other revealed the soft sound of an infant wailing in the distance. The group agreed to open the silent door, but it seemed to be blocked from the other side. Bob used his portable ram to batter the door down, again making a sound like thunder as the ram slammed against the metal door. When the thunder stopped, everyone could clearly hear the angry infant screaming coming from very nearby.

Inside the room, the see three skeletons wearing tattered coveralls and security badges. Aldo found some archaic armor and an accompanying shield. Pithy found an antique blunderbuss, and Lefty found what he thought was a flash-bang grenade. Looking up at the ceiling, they saw small holes like some liquid had once been dripping through from the floor above. All the while that they searched, the sound of the infant crying grew closer and louder. Losing their collective nerves, the adventurers ran for their lives calmly decided on an orderly and strategic retreat from the site. They climbed up the rope, climbed the stairs to the break room, and made their way back across the bridge. They found Nix Perpendicular playing backgammon with some of the tourists he'd brought. He was pleased that they'd made it back before even the original 8 hours were up.


  1. Thanks for posting the recap, Anne. Into the Odd is a great game and very fun to run!

    1. It was nice and easy to play. Outside of one-shots, how to run a campaign with it deserves a little thought, since the ONLY powers the characters get come from their equipment, in contrast to basically every other edition of D&D where characters have SOME intrinsic abilities. So the role of treasure is more important in I2TO, I think.

    2. Yeah, I've only run one-shots with I2tO, and I'm curious as to how a full campaign plays. I feel the PCs are more grungy scavengers with dangerous devices than the typically powerful and competent D&D party.
      That's another reason I'm looking forward to Bastionland. A lot of the character types seem to have individual weirdness baked in.