Thursday, January 19, 2017

Iron Gods - Valley of the Brain Collectors 1

Once again, we continue with our Iron Gods campaign...spoilers ahead.

After tying up some loose ends in Iadenveigh and Torch, and making a quick trip to Starfall to surreptitiously unload some treasure (and Grendal), the party, which now included a priestess of Brigh called Hala, made its way to the Scar of the Spider. At the entrance to the valley, they found the smoking ruin of a massive robot. A large crater indicated that the robot had been crippled by a major explosion, possibly caused by a planted mine. As the party examined the robot, they noticed a large net slung under it. Within contained several human bodies, most likely local barbarians. They had been killed by the explosion, but sometime later, the tops of their skulls had been surgically removed and their brains extracted. As the party examined the scene, the robot exploded, of course.

After patching themselves up, the party began following the tracks of a second large robot which had apparently also been damaged by the blast, but survived and made its way back down into the valley. On the way, they came upon a large cave full of reddish fungus. The fungus turned out to be radioactive, but flammable, The party was able to burn it away, destroy several giant spiders that occupied the cave and recover a sizeable treasure trove. Continuing on their way, they encountered a ragged man with many scars and some high-tech prosthetics. The man, who called himself Paetyr, was clearly mentally disturbed, but not hostile. Hala was able to cure the man of his insanity and he proved to be a valuable source of information. He turned out to be a druid who had been tortured by a group he called the Butchers who inhabit the valley. He was able to provide information on other denizens of the Scar of the Spider, notably a four-armed female being who used high technology. He said she was the one who destroyed the giant robot. The company was interested in making contact with this person. Paetyr said she could be found in a place he called the Machine Caves and told them how to get there.

The Machine Caves turned out to be natural caves, but parts of the interior were clad in metal with glaucite doors and robotic guards. There was no immediate sign of the four-armed creature, but the party members found themselves in the throne room/laboratory of a particularly bombastic robot called Binox. After a predictably unsuccessful effort at diplomacy, a surprisingly difficult battle ensued. Binox proved quite formidable, with integrated laser rifles, a force field and the unexpected ability to rapidly climb out of pit spells (a party mainstay). Nonetheless, the would-be robot king was defeated. They explored a little more and realized the room they were in was a fully functional military and production lab powered by a geothermal reactor, a find worth a king's ransom. As the party healed up, the four-armed female appeared. She spoke in Androffan and said her name was Isuma. She said she was of a race called the Kasathans and that she was from a distant world. She said she was brought to this world on the ship that crashed in Numeria thousands of years ago. She and several fellow Kasathans had been preserved in stasis pods until recently. They had run afoul of a group of Dominion agents and only she had been able to escape. Since then, she has been fighting a guerrilla war against the Dominion. When the party informed her that they were looking to cause some trouble for the Dominion as well, she asked to join them. She also told them of another group of aliens who lived in a place she called the Fungal Cave. She said they were also worshippers of the elder gods of the Dark Tapestry, just like the Dominion, but that the two groups were mutually hostile. She figured this other group might be a bit easier to take on and that they may have some useful technology or information to use against the Dominion. It was agreed to check out the Fungal Cave first and off the went with Isuma tagging along.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Iron Gods - The Choking Tower 4

We continue with our Iron Gods campaign - spoilers ahead.

The company returned the next day after a night of rest at the lair of the star monarch. By once again using the secret stairwell, they bypass a couple of floors, arriving eventually at the private bed chamber of Furkas Xoud. Though in his current state, he had little need for sleep, his spellbooks were in the room and their loss would be devastating to him. He arrived immediately to destroy the intruders for good. Starting off once again with a fireball, followed by a spectral miasma, Xoud did some damage, but the party was fresh and Xoud had no allies. Grendal was gravely weakened by the effects of an irradiate spell, but the party prevailed nonetheless. Furkas Xoud was vanquished a second time and this time, there would be no return.

With Xoud defeated, the remaining hazards and minions, including Xoud's two remaining robotic apprentices and a large, animated crane, proved only minor inconveniences. The most dangerous threat turned out to be a haunt in one of Xoud's private study rooms. Among the depraved technomancer's more diabolical research interests was suffocation. He had a vacuum chamber in which he would place test subjects to study their deaths as they gasped for breath. The cruelty of their deaths created a haunt which sought to destroy the living by drawing the air from their lungs. This malevolent entity attacked Smangtooth and the party had little success in figuring out how to destroy it. They eventually left the area and the haunt did not follow as it was attached to that one room.They would later realize that destroying the vacuum pump would lay the haunt to rest.

With his minions slain and his treasures plundered, the ghost of Furkas Xoud was laid to rest and the party had the Choking Tower to call their own. It was a find of extraordinary value for it had both a medical lab and a military lab, as well as the smoke furnace to provide power. The party was further able to remove enough equipment from the buried module at Iadenveigh to also set up a production lab. Let us hope the Technic League does not learn of it.


Monday, November 14, 2016

Review: Numenéra Character Options 2

The newest expansion for the Numenéra game from Monte Cook Games is the Numenéra Character Options 2. Those familiar with the game or other games that use the Cypher System will know that character concepts are presented using the formula "I am a adjective noun that verbs." The "noun" in this case is the character type. In Numenéra, the are three character types, the glaive (fighter), the nano (mage) and the jack (rogue). The "adjective" is the character descriptor, a single word that best describes the characters strongest attribute, such as tough or charming. The "verb" is the character focus, a word or phrase that describes what the character does such as "masters weaponry" or "controls beasts". For example, a typical archer would be described as "a graceful glaive that carries a quiver". Each of the three components of the character concept formula adds a set of characteristics and abilities to whole character build. So one could create "a clever nano who talks to machines" or "a clever jack who talks to machines", two smart characters with an affinity for technology, but with different abilities.

Obviously, this is the second expansion to add new character design options. The first included a bunch of new descriptors and foci, as well as options for customizing the three character types. This book takes it a step further by introducing two entirely new character types, the glint and the seeker. The glint can best be described as the party "face". This character type is the master of social situations, skilled in the arts of diplomacy and deception. The seeker is an explorer, adept in survival and extremely resilient, almost as good in combat as the glaive, but with skills to boot. NCO2 also introduces a bunch of new character races with a strong emphasis on aquatic and amphibian species, as well as regional descriptors for humans such as the nature-loving Gaians, bloodthirsty Vralkans or seafaring Rayskelans. All in all, some pretty useful stuff, well presented and much of it easily adaptable to other Cypher system campaigns. Highly recommended.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Iron Gods - The Choking Tower 3

We continue with our Iron Gods campaign - as always, expect spoilers.

Having discovered a secret stairway, the party decided to head down instead of continuing up the tower. They uncovered a hidden dungeon beneath the tower. The first room they entered had a small desk with a journal written by Furkas Xoud describing various creatures he had summoned and studied. The last entry described a leukodaemon. Sure enough, in the next room was a large glowing summoning circle with a very angry leukodaemon trapped inside. The fiend was clearly contained so the party felt confident they could approach. However, when they entered, a cackling, ghostly figure entered through the wall. It cast a spell and the circle stopped glowing. The ghostly figure then fled and the leukodaemon attacked the party with a hideous breath weapon made up of biting flies.

The battle was difficult, but the party vanquished the leukodaemon. They went on to battle some belkers in a strange wind tunnel built by Xoud to study air creatures, then found a shrine to Zyphus, the god of accidental death. Eventually, they came to Xoud's holding cells. They found a lone occupant, a worm that walks named Nargin Haruvex. Nargin was imprisoned by Xoud as a study subject and was anxious to be freed. He agreed to aid the party against Xoud in exchange for his freedom.

Eventually, they arrived at Xoud's most important research lab. They found his smoke furnace, a power generator combining magic and technology and a room called "Lab Zero: Mnemotechnic Recovery". The lab had a very sophisticated locking mechanism, but Nils was able to defeat it. They entered to find the corpse of Casandalee laid out on a table with a strange robot guarding it. The robot, which the party would later determine to be a thought harvester, attacked the party. Just as they were engaged with it, the ghost of Furkas Xoud arrived and caught them all in a spectral miasma. Unable to see and being drained of life energy, the party fought on bravely. Eventually, they destroyed the robot by causing it to fall into a magical pit and forced Xoud to retreat. Searching the lab, they found some useful information, most notably, the location where Casandalee hid her neurocam, a valley to the northeast called the Scar of the Spider. Before pursuing their new lead, the company decided to finish exploring the tower and hopefully find a way to put Furkas Xoud to rest permanently.


Sunday, November 06, 2016

Iron Gods - The Choking Tower 2

We continue with our Iron Gods campaign, expect spoilers.

The party realized that the next chamber contained some sort of nanite canisters, which were probably leaking and causing the mutations to the local plants and animals. They figured they could neutralize the nanites by activating the nanotech lab and programming it to neutralize the nanites. Using one of their precious batteries, they were able to briefly power the lab through the exposed conduit and neutralize the mutagenic nanites.

With nothing more to do in Iadenveigh for now, the party prepared to pursue their newest lead. The learned Augusto figured Master Xoud was the Technic League turncoat, Furkas Xoud. A little research led them to learn about the Choking Tower, a strange keep in a distant forest thought to be the last known residence of Xoud. After a week of travel through the Numerian hinterland, the party arrived at the Smokewood, where the Choking Tower was located. They battled a couple of hill giants and a warden robot, before encountering an unearthly creature called a star monarch. The giant butterfly-like creature, sacred to Desna worshippers (such as Nils), had been monitoring the dreams of the inhabitants of the tower for some time. There was only one dreaming creature active at the time, indicating that most of the inhabitants were probably undead or constructs, valuable information indeed.

The next morning they entered the tower. Initial resistance was light. A couple of riot suppression robots guarded the first floor. They proved fairly easy to defeat. In one room, they found an old spellbook belonging to Xoud. It had a collection of fairly common first and second level spells. The second level of the tower was made up of servants' quarters. They had clearly been abandoned years earlier, but a few traps and a trio of gearghosts remained. In one room, they found a small metal pod attached to a wall. They figured out it was a nanite cocoon. Upon removing it, they uncovered a small crack in the wall and a hidden stairwell behind it. More to come...


Friday, October 21, 2016

Iron Gods - The Choking Tower 1

We continue with our Iron Gods campaign - spoilers ahead.

Following their successful defeat of Hellion at Scrapwall, the party headed back to Torch before deciding what to do next. They had heard about another Iron God called Unity which Hellion sought to destroy. They also heard about Casandalee which Hellion thought of as a sister and who may have escaped from Unity with useful information on how to defeat him. Casandalee was believed to be an android and was last reported to be in what is now the town of Iadenveigh. Although Casandalee most likely died many decades ago, she was said to have a device called a neurocam which can record thoughts and might contain vital information about Unity.

The people of Iadenveigh were rather insular and particularly hostile to high technology. Still, the company was able to earn the cooperation of the town's self-appointed guardian, Iadrin "Redfang" Ashworth and Ivek Gunnett, a member of the town council. Gunnet had reason to believe a spy from the Technic League was in his town and requested that the party investigate. They uncovered clues that led them to a group of Varisian merchants. Rather than presenting their suspicions openly, the party decided to befriend the Varisians. After a couple of nights of interaction, they learned that one among the troupe, a dancer by the name of Ilarris Zeleshi, was a very recent addition. A dancer fit with the information they had and the party realized they had unmasked the spy. Zeleshi soon realized she'd been made and fled at the earliest opportunity. Nonetheless, Nils was able to follow her to a well that had been covered with a capstone. She entered the well, but not before setting off some sort of glyph. The party followed after her, but had to fight through a cloud of nanites.

At the bottom of the well, they found an opening that led into another part of the spaceship buried underground. They came upon a room with computer terminal that still had some power. After some experimentation, they were able to get a video playback of the room on the monitor. It showed a human leaning over the computer. He mentioned something about having charged the computer with a magic spell, but that he couldn't learn anything useful. The man seemed to be talking to an invisible companion whom he called Sahasho. The companion, in return, called the man Master Xoud. The video ended as the man exited the room. The party explored further and battled several deformed androids. They determined that the section of the ship they were in was an android foundry, although the damage it had sustained degraded the androids produced. They also caught up with Ilarris Zeleshi. She was wounded from the glyph and the nanites and they were able to subdue her without killing her. They tied her up for later retrieval.

Moving on, the party pushed its way through a collapsed and trapped section of the ship. Once across, they encountered a group of gearsmen who demanded the immediate surrender of Casandalee. Unsatisfied with the inability of the party to produce her, the gearsmen attacked. Fighting through the gearsmen, the party uncovers a nanotech lab. The lab showed evidence of recent activity including a section of floor tile that had been lifted, exposing what appeared to be a power conduit. The company is addressed by a disembodied voice, which they recognized as that of the invisible companion in the video playback they saw earlier. The creature, which they identified as an invisible stalker, asked if there was any news from Master Xoud and if they had come to release it from its service. When it became clear the party did not come to free it, the invisible stalker attacked. It proved a formidable foe, but the party prevailed. Casandalee may have been here at one time, but it appeared Master Xoud may have left with her remains some time ago. Deciding to move on, the party noticed another door with a sign saying "Canister Access" in Androffan and a bright orange sigil displayed prominently upon it. Until next time...


Monday, October 03, 2016

Iron Gods - Lords of Rust 3

We continue with our Iron Gods campaign - spoilers ahead.

The time had come for the final confrontation with Hellion. Nalakai came before the group who had decided to occupy the abandoned ratfolk warren and informed them that Hellion demanded their presence for the final initiation into the Lords of Rust. Smangtooth, Targus and Grendel answered the call, accompanied by two members of Redtooth's Raiders. The new members, a pair of ratfolk rogues named Kodo and Podo, were brothers who were highly skilled in robot fighting tactics. The five gathered at the arena and were led to an underground temple. Awaiting them were Nalakai's acolytes. They gathered before a large holographic projector which suddenly sprang to life revealing a hideous demonic figure - Hellion. The image spoke, ordering the group to kneel and prepare for the final test of faith. As the party knelt, Hellion cast an unholy blight upon them. Their agonized response revealed they were not evil and, therefore, not worthy followers. Hellion ordered Nalakai and the acolytes to attack. Though fanatical, Hellion's priests were no match for the group and were quickly dispatched. Nalakai joined Helskrag, Meyanda and Kulgara on the list of deceased Lords of Rust.

The party descended further into the structure beneath the arena. They battled other followers of Hellion, notably dark folk, orcs and another member of the Lords of Rust, the ettin, Draigs. She put up a respectable fight, but at this point, the company was not intimidated by the Lords and they slew her as ruthlessly as they had the others. After some exploration, the party realized they were exploring a huge, buried vehicle. They located another holographic projector which displayed the vehicle in its entirety, revealing it to be an enormous excavator. They also located the central processor and were able to install the inhibitor facet they had acquired earlier. This caused Hellion to terminate its connection with the central processor, but the damage was done. The AI was infected by the disruptive program, weakening it for the final battle to come.

The company exited the excavator and entered the caves around it. They came upon a cave with a pile of fairly fresh orc, ratfolk and human corpses with their torsos burst open. A crude painting of a red, four-armed demonic figure adorned the wall of the cave. Continuing on, they entered another chamber occupied by a figure appearing very much like the painting. The creature, a xill, introduced herself as Zagmaander, At last, the mysterious final member of the Lords of Rust was found. Zagmaander did not immediately attack. She indicated that she knew they were there to destroy Hellion and that she could assist them if they could help her. She was cursed to spend eternity in her cave unless someone could remove the curse. The party discussed it among themselves, but in fact, none of them had the ability to cast the remove curse spell. The xill reasoned that if she could not be freed, she would use them to implant more of her offspring, the same fate as that suffered by the corpses in the previous cave. Zagmaander swung her swords, fired her laser torch and even employed her paralyzing bite, but outnumbered 5-to-1, she didn't last long. She welcomed the release of death.

Finally, the company came upon their ultimate foe. At the far end of excavator, the giant bucket wheel protruded into a large cavern. Plenty of debris and partially-constructed robots lay about. A large scorpion-like robot rose up before them. Hellion had retreated to an arachnid robot chassis.

It opened fire on Smangtooth with its plasma beam as the ratfolk charged up to engage. Using its claws to fight the ratfolk and its plasma gun to strafe Smangtooth, Hellion fought hard. It concentrated its attacks on Smangtooth and being a divine creature with mythic power, it had many attacks. Smangtooth struck repeatedly with her chainsword, while Kodo and Podo teamed up, stabbing with their adamantine rapiers. Grendel and Targus followed up, surrounding the 'bot. Weakening quickly and still confused by the inhibitor facet, Hellion directed all its mythic attacks at Smangtooth. The orc barbarian was hideously battered, but still barely held on through sheer force of will as Podo drove home the killing blow. Unfortunately for Smangtooth, Hellion's robot chassis exploded. Everyone was caught in the blast, but for Smangtooth, it was too much. Her scorched body fell to the floor. Smangtooth was dead.

Good thing they still had that scroll of resurrection.