Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Numenera - Pulse - Session 1



They're back!


It's certainly been a while since our last time in the Ninth World.  When we last ran with Chase, Ralyx, Glyquorg, and Jak it was December, and we finished up an abbreviated version of Dread Unicorn Games’ The Sun Below: City on the Edge.  The holidays were fast approaching, and some of us were planning on taking part in the Quattro con Carnage experiment, so we decided to put Numenera on hold for a short while.  

Since we were adding two new players to the group, Jeremy and Andreas from Quattro con Carnage, I changed the campaign name from “Tales of the Broken Mask” to “Pulse”.  After the unfortunate events of Session 10, it is safe to say that the party’s allegiance to the Broken Mask was destroyed, so the timing was right.  

As to what the “Pulse” means… you’ll find out soon enough.  

Characters

  • Chase Rombek or Raa-em, a Mystical Nano who Sees Beyond or a Mad Nano who Wields Power with Precision, played by Frank
  • Jak, a Mutant Glaive who Constantly Evolves, played by Craig
  • Glyquorg, an Exiled Jack who Controls Animals, played by Andy
  • Ralyx, Mlox Jack who Throws with Deadly Accuracy, played by Marc
  • Takkorek, a Slaker Nano who Entertains, played by Jeremy
  • Garren, a Varjellen Glaive who Studies Anatomy, played by Andreas


Non-Player Characters of Note

  • Mor-Klish, Slithik 
  • Tar, the grandchildren of Ennuan
  • Purc, owner of the Tail
  • Bask, local Marish Clan tough, and collector 


Summary


Along the southern bank of the Wyr River, near the southern district of Qi, there is a community called “Under’embridge”.  Located beneath the Market Bridge (hence the name), this subterranean slum strikes fear into most city residents, while offering solace to outsiders and outcasts passing through the massive metropolis.  By following the riverbank, just beneath the bridge, travelers come to a massive crocodilian skull.  The upper jaw appears to support the bridge while the lower stretches out over the river, acting as a pier for searoach catching children.  Passing through the serpent’s neck, a visitor will find an entire community, built within an ancient ribcage nearly two-hundred meters long.  Along the “rib-line” are rows of shops and eateries.  At the very end is an infamous daupsam house called “The Tail”, where sex is traded for cyphers.  The law of Qi has little reach in Under’embridge, so the Marish Clan, a local organized crime syndicate, maintains order by any means necessary.  

In the dark corners of Under’embridge, in one of the rib-line shops, a Varjellen butcher and surgeon named Garren provided cheap living accommodations for a small party of ex-bounty hunters from Nihliesh.  Five months earlier Jak, Glyquorg, Ralyx, and Chase Rombek chose to leave Nihliesh and flee the Broken Mask in order to protect the life, and genetic makeup, of Tar.  The young girl was granddaughter to Ennuan, a priest of the Order of Truth and agent of the Three Swords working against the mutants of Nihliesh.  Even though they bounty hunters were initially Tar’s kidnappers, they now saw themselves as her protectors.  Along with their new slithik friend Mor-Kilish, the party had intended to travel further into the Beyond, past the Sere Marica.  

Ralyx, the wayward and constantly lost jack, said he knew the way, but instead somehow guided the party north to Qi.

It was early morning, and Takkorek had just arrived at Garren’s shop.  A local storyteller and entertainer, Takkorek received word from the village of Ballester to the east that his presence was requested.  Ballestar was renowned for never catering to guests, but during his last trip out east Takkorek did something so incredible that the community’s leader offered him something amazing, but expected future favor in return.  

Despite the whole “amazing” quality of the community’s offering, Takkorek didn’t seem inclined, or possibly was not even able, to discuss its nature.  

Ballester needed assistance dealing with a pestilence that was poisoning the Wyr River, and given the organic nature of the toxins, Takkorek believed Garren could be of some use.  The Varjellen went downstairs in his home to bring news of a mission to his four houseguests when he noticed Glyquorg sluggishly getting out of bed, face covered in blood.  The Exiled Jack didn’t notice the blood at first, but as he turned to check for its source, he noticed that there was a small sack in his bed.  In the sack was a severed head, and when Glyquorg turned it to face Garren and Takkorek, both knew the poor soul well.

The head had belonged to Sago Marish.  Just a few weeks earlier Sago was a very popular daupsam, a sex-for-cypher worker at the Tail.  Sago’s life changed a week ago, however, when he married Dietha Marish, the boss of the Marish clan, and most powerful gangster in Qi.  Under’embridge as a community took part in illegal automaton versus animal pit fighting, in near-religious engagements known as “Testaments”.  As a wedding gift, Dietha gave Sago full control over Under’embridge’s contributions to the Testaments, which made the ex-daupsam a very rich and powerful man.  

Glyquorg swore to the party that he did not murder Sago… or at the very least had no recollection of killing the poor individual.  When the party decided that the best course of action would be to destroy the head, Garren opened an oven and placed the head inside.  After only a few moments, however, the acrid smell of burning synth and alloy started to fill the room.  Opening the oven door, it appeared that Sago was no simple man, but an artificially intelligent being made of flesh and steel.  Man or machine, it didn’t matter.  Unless the murder was solved, the Marish Clan would surely come looking for their new underboss.

Takkorek and Ralyx set out to do some investigating in the community.  Takkorek chose to enter the Market District to the north and see if there was any way to dig up information about the Testament battles, and the connection with Sago.  The entertainer was working under the disguise of an individual looking to enter the Testament battles.  It was no matter, the old factory that now served as a battleground between mecha and orga, did not accept “freelance fighters”, and the custodian guided Takkorek back to Sago in Under’embridge.  

Ralyx met with Purc, the owner of the Tail in the hopes of getting some information about Sago.  This too did not lead to much help during the party’s investigation.  

When Takkorek was returning to Under’embridge from the Market District he noticed little Tar trying to catch searoaches near the waters.  The act of catching a searoach was difficult, as the fisher would need to tear off pieces of their own flesh and toss them in the water as bait.  Given the barbaric but necessary act, most searoach catchers were covered in scars, and over the course of five months Tar had become one of the best.  Tar seemed to open up to Takkorek, and even offered warning about the bounty hunters the entertainer was seen associating with.  Tar then offered to introduce Takkorek to her greatest find…

The King.

Guiding Takkorek beneath he jawbone pier of Under’embridge, Tar guided the Nano to a massive cage, easly two meters across and deep.  Inside was the largest searoach Takkorek had ever seen.  Tar announced the creature as “The King”, but when Takkorek bowed, the creature lashed out and almost cut off his head.  

“You were almost next!” Tar stated ominously.  

“Next?” asked Takkorek.

Tar only responded with a grin.  The betrayal was obvious.  Tar had somehow used The King to decapitate Sago, and then the quiet little girl placed the head in Glyquorg’s bed as the Jack rested.  The fact that Sago was a cybernetic creature had no bearing on the murder.  

Just then Takkorek noticed a gang of Marish Clan thugs heading towards the center of Under’embridge.  The Nano chased after them, and managed to get to Garren’s shop around the same time.  The head of the thugs announced himself as Bask.  Someone anonymously sent the Marish Clan word that their new leader Sago had been the victim of the exiled bounty hunters whom Garren was offering shelter.  Garren was able to convince the thugs that the former members of the Broken Mask were not home, but Bask still left a guard detail outside the shop.

Thinking quickly, Takkorek pulled out a small cypher and handed it to one of the Marish guards, stating that it could augment his weapon.  The guard let Takkorek affix the cypher to the weapon, and the short blade immediately rose up and started attacking the guards on its own.  Takkorek jumped into the storefront and slammed the door.  Once he was convinced that the guided blade had killed both guards, the Slacker Nano led the entire party out of Garren’s shop and then out of Qi altogether.

Despite the setback, Takkorek was pleased that everyone seemed so willing to finally accompany him to Ballester.


Quotes


Frank - "Qi.  How do you pronounce it?"
Jeremy - "Clearly its a dialectical thing…"

Frank - "I have a mirror."
Craig - "All teenaged girls have a mirror." 

"It was a rough one… and apparently 'that' happened." - Glyquorg reflecting on last night, pointing at the head in his bed.  

"I think we're getting a'head' of the situation here…" - Andreas… "head" joke number fifty-seven.

Takkorek - "So Glyquorg, not knowing you well I feel I need to ask…" 
Glyquorg - "No, no, no, nothing happened."

Tar - "Those people you're friends with?  They turned my brother into a chair."
Takkorek - "That's an odd life-choice."  

"Sometimes you get the lobster, sometimes it gets you!" - Craig talks about Sago's fate.

"If you can dodge a crab, you can dodge a ball!" - Marc and Craig are of the same mind.  



Into the Weird


Session 1 of Numenera: Pulse was my attempt at a short, murder mystery.  If you read my previous post about writers block, you’ll remember that I was struggling with adventure ideas for this session.  This encounter, essentially the little girl Tar framing one of her kidnappers for murder, was just one of the few sidequests I had planned.  It had been a long time since I ran an investigation type adventure, so I thought we’d give it a shot with this new group.

I’m a little torn on my execution of the adventure.  Originally I planned to have the severed head placed at the doorstep of Garren’s shop.  Given Andrew's decision to switch from the Controls Beasts focus to Murders, I couldn’t resist opening with a GM Intrusion, and placing the head in Tar’s bed.  Any investigation of the little girl would’ve shown that she was exceptionally stealthy, and if the party had spoken with the other searoach catchers, they would’ve mentioned that Tar was an outcast, and that she spoke with an entity known as “The King” below the Under’embridge’s jawbone fishing pier.  I believe that throwing the curveball at the party that Glyquorg could’ve been the murderer held up a massive piece of the investigation.  Takkorek’s investigation of Tar occurred late in the evening, around 11:00pm, and we needed to draw things to a close rather quickly afterwards.  The party chose to flee Under’embridge after killing the Marish Clan guards, which will cause some significant complications should they return to Qi.  With more time in the evening they may have tried something more developed and peaceful…




… no, you are right… they would’ve still killed the guards.