Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Strange, pt.2

Our second session saw us add a new agent to our team, a slick, smooth-talking bloke named Buckingham. McNulty would be sitting this one out. Presumably, a few of the higher-ups at the Estate wanted more details on the Seattle operation and why some local college kids had hired lawyers and were accusing the local authorities of harassment and police brutality. The rest of us boarded a flight to Denver.

[spoiler warning]

Nederland is a small, hippie town a half-hour west of Boulder. Soderstrom and Sinclair posed as Southern California hipsters looking for business opportunities selling healing crystals and other New Age paraphernalia. Soderstrom is a master of disguise and Sinclair has an MA in philosophy, so it wasn't difficult to be convincing. The rest of the team set up a surveillance cordon so we could keep watch on the Dreaming Crystal.

After checking out some of the local businesses and scoring some legal weed from a nearby head shop, Soderstrom and Sinclair headed over to the Dreaming Crystal. A tattooed young woman was outside smoking a clove cigarette. Her name was Delsey and she was an employee of the store. She didn't have a great deal of useful information to share, other than when to expect her boss, Lydia Nance, to arrive. Later that day, when Nance arrived, Sinclair and Soderstrom returned and proposed a business partnership whereby they would open a store in California. After some friendly banter and a few drinks, Soderstrom furtively brought up Spiral Dust. Although Nance was initially concerned about how we came to know about it, after mentioning Leroy Cain and indicating our interest in selling dust in SoCal, she seemed interested. She invited Sinclair and Soderstrom into the basement of her store where she said her Spiral Dust operation was located. Sinclair, a paradox, initiated a Mind Reading revision, allowing him to determine the combination of the lock on the door to the basement which she hid from view. This also allowed him to recognize that Nance was leading them into an ambush, At the foot of the stairs, clinging to the ceiling were two night spiders, horrific giant arachnids from Ardeyn. Soderstrom opened fire with his 9mm, while Sinclair started launching Exception revisions and signalling to the rest of the team for backup. It was a tough fight, but with help of the rest of the team, the night spiders were killed and Nance was taken into custody. Several dead bodies were discovered, victims Nance had lured down there to feed her pets.

The rest of the basement was explored and a room was discovered with a taped off square in the middle of the floor. Further questioning of Nance revealed that her source of Spiral Dust, a woman by the name of Donna Ilsa, would translate from a recursion called Area 51 into the taped off area, drop off the dust and collect money Nance would leave for her. She didn't have a fixed schedule, although drop-offs were typically every couple of weeks. It was decided to take up residence in the store and wait in the translation room in shifts for Ilsa's next appearance. It turned out Sinclair and Holbein were present a few days later when she arrived.

Subduing Ilsa proved no mean feat. She possessed several cyphers which she used to great effect. The first one was some sort of chemical grenade which she used on Sinclair. It covered him in a greasy, sticky substance which effectively immobilized him. The second created a force wall intended to keep Holbein at bay. However, a spectacularly successful attempt to vault over it allowed him to close with her and engage in a grapple. Holbein was able to subdue her long enough for the rest of the team to arrive. Once captured, we were able to interrogate her with the aid of a Mind Reading revision,

We soon determined that Ilsa was actually a dragon from Ardeyn. A creature she referred to as the Dustman was holding a clutch of her eggs hostage in order to coerce her cooperation. She was running Spiral Dust for him through a recursion called Area 51, a chaotic place in which a human rebel movement was fighting against a classic 50's movie style alien invasion of Earth. She knew roughly where her eggs were being held. but a previous attempt to rescue them had failed. Upon hearing this, we offered to rescue her eggs. We would allow her to continue running dust so as not to arouse suspicion, with an Estate agent waiting here to receive the shipments and dispose of them. Though reluctant, she agreed to give us a few weeks to try our rescue mission. She told us the eggs were kept in a dungeon in Ardeyn called the Mouth of Swords. And so, we're off to a old-fashioned dungeon crawl in Ardeyn.


Monday, March 09, 2015

Our first campaign in The Strange, pt.1

Posts have been few of late. I'm not sure why. There just hasn't been much to talk about lately. Nonetheless, our gaming group has been busy delving into Monte Cook's new Cypher gaming system. We started with Numenera, but have recently switched to The Strange. For the uninitiated, The Strange is a multi-genre game that harkens back to the classic TORG game of the 90's. The title of the game refers to an ancient technological marvel created by a hyper-advanced alien race from the inconceivably distant past that permeates the universe. Thought to have originally been intended as a means of intergalactic travel, the Strange has decayed into a dark energy network that is capable of giving birth to pocket dimensions called recursions. Typically, these recursions are anchored to an inhabited world and derive their reality from popular fictional or mythological sources.

Our group is currently running through The Dark Spiral [spoiler warning] with some added material from other sources. We started out with five agents; Soderstrom, a mysterious Swede with a troubled past, Wilcox, a gung-ho ex-military NCO and unofficial leader of the team, McNulty, a disgraced ex-cop who's not afraid to bend the rules, Holbein, a former military sniper and all-around glass-half-empty kind of guy and Sinclair, a Canadian writer and philosopher who acts as the voice of reason. We are operatives for the Estate, a secretive private organization that monitors and investigates the Strange to protect the Earth from the many dangers that lie in wait. Our first assignment together involved investigating a drug dealer in Seattle named Leroy Cain who has been selling a mysterious drug called Spiral Dust which seems to have an unearthly origin. Pretty quickly, we were able to determine his home address and decided to stake out the place. We found Cain's car parked out front and someone inside, but despite repeated attempts to gain entry, the occupant could not be coaxed into opening the door. At one point, McNulty and Holbein tricked their way into the apartment next door which was occupied by two college kids playing video games. The young guys were clearly stoners and McNulty suspected they might be customers of Cain's despite their protests to the contrary. They applied a little bad cop/worse cop on the college kids to coerce their cooperation and get them to try and gain access to Cain's residence, to no avail.

Some time later, the sole occupant of Cain's apartment, a woman named Janice Cordell, left and headed toward a nearby car. Sinclair intercepted her and, posing as a police detective, placed her under arrest. Returning to Cain's apartment, we found a picture of the U.S.S. Enterprise from the original Star Trek TV show which we determined to be a focus used to translate to a recursion based on the series. Realizing that Cain had gone there, we followed, taking on classic character types from the show. McNulty became the pilot/navigator, Soderstrom, the science officer, Wilcox manned the weapons console, Sinclair became the engineer and fittingly, Holbein became the redshirt, a character who repeatedly died and was replaced by another. Each of his deaths, however, was beneficial to the rest of the party. We pursued Cain through a Federation ship that was fighting off a boarding attempt by Romulans. After successfully bypassing the automated defensive systems of the ship, we fought a pitched battle against the Romulans who were attempting to seize the engineering section. We were successful in defeating the Romulans and taking Cain back to Earth. He revealed his source of Spiral Dust to be Lydia Nance, owner of a small gift store in Nederland, Colorado called the Dreaming Crystal. We're off to the Centennial State.