Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rasterperch Keep - A Numenera/Ravenloft Adventure - Session 2


Return to Rasterperch Keep


After a few weeks off, my players and I were back enjoying Rasterperch Keep.  It sure was a special evening!  A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post about character death.  Its been quite a long time since I've killed off a serious player character and I don't count the 0-level fodder found in Dungeon Crawl Classics.  Since Rasterperch Keep is a quick, on the spot hack of the original Ravenloft module (with a lot of cosmetic changes), not including real risk would be disingenuous to the evil spirits of the Demiplane of Dread.  So last night I came to the table with an evil glint in my eye…


… mwa ha ha ha!

Sadly I couldn't finish off any player characters last night, but I sure came close for two of them that decided to go off on their own.  I'm surprised Frank, a veteran gamer who has dungeon mastered both the original Ravenloft and the 3.5 Edition remake, didn't warn Andy and Jeremy that it was so dangerous to go off alone…

Characters

  • Chase Rombek, a Mystical Nano who Sees Beyond, 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, Slaker Nano who Entertains, played by Jeremy
  • Garren, Varjellen Glaive who Studies Anatomy, played by Andreas

Non-Player Characters of Note

  • La Dama:  The hive-minded, antlike fortune teller of the Afterlife
  • Lady Von Zaro:  "Sister" to Raa-em

Summary


If you missed our last adventure, you can find the summary here.

Chase Rombek had a lot of explaining to do.  Raa-em’s consciousness departed the Mystical Nano’s mind, but no one else in the party had ever suspected that their Chase was a psychic host for an entity formerly known as a sentient patch of moss.  True, Chase had become somewhat distant and detached over the last several months, but most of the random violence he caused was directed against Glyquorg, so it was somewhat excusable.  Still, Chase apologized to his adventuring party, with special attention given to Glyquorg.

While Chase was delivering his apology to the rest of the group he noticed that someone was missing: Takkorek.  The Slacker Nano took part in the battle against Lady Von Zarro, but in the aftermath disappeared from view.  Some of the party members scouted the area for a trail, while Ralyx decided to investigate the nearby trees.  The party was standing in the middle of a deep, coniferous forest, with the canopy protecting everyone from the painfully brilliant light that flooded the nearby fields.  But there was something strangely uniform about the trees that Ralyx found unsettling.  Checking the roots, the Mlox noticed that the trees and the ground were all the same substance, and each tree, at least from the base, was identical.  Ralyx then put his hand against one of the tree trunks, and was surprised when it passed through.  

Casual interest quickly turned to desperate panic as Ralyx realized that he could not withdraw his hand from the tree.  He could move it deeper, but when he pulled back there was no way to free even a millimeter of his skin.  The mlox was trapped!  Fear flooded Ralyx’s mind and he started to scream and shout, blaming the trees for Takkorek’s recent disappearance.  At this point Glyquorg took note of the tree and puled out his water sword.  A blade of liquid water bound in a strange electric field, the water sword was not a solid object.  The Exiled Jack chopped deep into the tree trunk and the entire pine groaned almost as if in pain.  As the tree bent backwards Ralyx felt the grip on his hand loosen.  The Mlox yanked his hand free and took several large steps away.  He would be careful not to make that mistake again, Ralyx thought to himself.  On the bright side, he was able to dig a strange, telepathic cypher from the trunk.  

To help quell some of the party's fear, Chase revealed to the party that Takkorek was nearby, but invisible.  Now that Chase had regained his ability to See Beyond, every spectrum of light was available to his keen, numenera infused eyes.  Chase asked Takkorek why he was out of sight.  Killer trees, brilliant pain, a queen made out of deadly, smoky ink… there were more reasons than not to stay safely hidden away, Takkorek explained

Garren didn’t seem to mind this new locale.  In fact, the Varjellen was delighted at all of the new sensations he was experiencing in the woods.  Scouting the forest floor for strange flora and fauna, the Varjellen Glaive came across a weird bug shell, about the size of La Dama’s carapace covered abdomen.  Picking up the shell, Garren turned it over and saw… something… on the inside that gave him a strange unnatural urge.  Immediately he glared at Glyquorg.  

“That was a very wise choice,” the alien voice of La Dama whispered in his ear.

In an instant Garren doubled over in pain and grabbed his chest.  As a varjellen, Garren was able to open up his chest cavity and manipulate his organs, but it felt as if a new, foreign organ was forming.  Quickly Garren pulled his chest bones apart revealing a small, egg-shaped growth.  The Glaive grabbed for his medical tools and carefully cut the egg from the rest of his visitant flesh.  The egg fell to the ground and started to roll on its own… 


… towards Glyquorg!

Not sure of the rolling, slime covered egg’s motives, Glyquorg started to walk away from the mass.  It continued to follow, weaving around the other party members.  Unsure of what to do, Glyquorg pulled his water blade and put the tip at the egg.  The egg continued to press forward, splitting and revealing a small furry mass within.  Chase, Garren, and Ralyx looked on with interest.  Jak gave a nervous laugh and kept a distance between himself and the Exiled Jack.  Takkorek threw up, while still invisible.  Out of the egg popped a small, cute, familiar Shanu.

It was Lemux!  

Glyquorg squealed with glee as he and his long dead friend were now reunited.  The Jack let Lemux climb up onto his shoulder, as a broad smile graced his long-anguished face.  Best friends forever.  

Not knowing what other threats lurked in the pine forest of this strange pocket universe, the party gathered their gear and started heading west.  From the edge of the forest, Ralyx had been able to see a large monolithic keep to the north, about a half mile away and nestled atop a thousand foot cliff.  Perhaps a path through the forest could lead the party straight into the hills without having to endure the exposure of the brilliant searing light.  Unfortunately the edge of the forest eventually led back south until the group reached a strange barrier.  

“The edge of the map,” Chase quipped.  

Looking back through the tree line Ralyx noticed that there was another pine forest just past a stone-block road, just one-hundred feet away.  The Mlox Jack wanted some shade for the crossing, and prepared to create a pine-branch cover.  All he would need was a pine branch… 

… which he grabbed…

… and quickly found his hand stuck yet again.  

This time Glyquorg was ready to free his friend in an instant.  The Exiled Jack hacked away at the branch, cutting it from the thick trunk.  Once the branch was disconnected from the tree Ralyx’s hand slipped free.  Ralyx continued to create his shade-producing implement, but noted that the strange wood was far lighter than any had encountered in the Steadfast or the Beyond.  It also had an artificial composition, with offshoot from the trunk lacking any sort of ring or organic structure.  With the branches lashed together the Mlox took a deep breath and stepped out onto the road.  The cover did its job, but also helping was the fact that the “sun” seemed to be going down.  With the brilliance subsiding, Ralyx was able to gaze up in the sky and see the source of the light.  Rather than an actual “star” in the sky, the light was emanating from a spectacular orb hovering four-hundred feet above the keep.  Slowly the orb’s glow diminished, until night was upon the party.

Chase Rombek moved alongside his Mlox compatriot and took a look at the keep.  Reaching deep within his mind, the Mystical Nano projected his sight to the top of the keep, thus giving him a clear view of the entire region.  There was a town to the northeast that made for an inviting destination however a strange greenish glow separated the party from that size of the region.  Using his remote viewing Chase noted that the glow was coming from a small river separating the southern forests from the northern.  There was a bridge that spanned this river, but it was located closer to where the “insect powered automatons” had been spotted earlier.  

Takkorek preferred to cross the river using his portal esotery, and convinced the rest of the party to approach the river at a narrow gap just west of the bridge.  Jak and Ralyx approached the river first, but noticed a strange effect from being so close to the waters.  The sound of the trickling waters and soft green glow beneath the rippling surface was so relaxing that it was putting both Jak and Ralyx asleep!  Jak was able to hold off his dozing, but Ralyx sat down on a rock and conked out.  Glyquorg was going to approach and assist, but in his ear he heard a devious voice.

“Not near the water, master!  Not near the water!”  It was Lemux, and the small little animal was speaking to Glyquorg.  Never in the Exiled Jack’s mind had he heard a voice come from his animal companion, and the sound was greatly unsettling.  

Perhaps this wasn’t the “friend” he had remembered.  

It took Takkorek but a moment to create a portal allowing the party to span the waters from a safe distance.  Once on the other side, it was only a ten minute walk to the edge of town.  Takkorek and Glyquorg offered to investigate the small village, and see if any information could be gained about this strange land that rested within a Latos’ head.

The two brave numenera hunters didn’t notice anything strange about the small village at first.  It seemed like just another rustic aldeia that one would find far from civilization in the Beyond.  Entering a local tavern, the pair scanned the room.  Several patrons quaffed mugs of a clear brew while a bartender/line cook prepared meals at the back of the main hall.  Most of the patrons seemed human, however at one table the chairs and table were covered in giant ants… the same that comprised “La Dama”.  Upon closer inspection the humans interacting with the ants didn’t seem to notice that they were not of a human origin, leading the jack and nano to believe some kind of numenera was at work.  

Takkorek approached the bar and asked for a beverage claiming that it was quite warm outside.  For some reason this unnerved the bartender, who began to interrogate the Slacker Nano about the heat.  When Takkorek revealed that the brilliant sunlight earlier in the day had “burned” his skin, the bartender shouted “demons!”  Before the bartender could draw a thin bladed sword the nano was gone, leaving poor Glyquorg standing.  

“Look guys…we didn’t want any trouble,” Glyquorg calmly stated.  

The bartender gritted his teeth.  “Only demons burn here in the Afterlife.” 

Glyquorg wasn’t about to wait for an example of what happens to “demons” here in this pocket universe.  Holding onto Lemux, the Exiled Jack ran into the street.  When he was halfway to the edge of town, Glyquorg thought he heard chanting in the distance, and the ringing of bells.  Immediately the brilliant sunlight returned!  Now smoldering, Glyquorg looked to his right and crashed through the window of a small home.  Quickly he learned that the home was occupied however he still hoped for some solace, hastily hiding beneath a large couch.  

That’s when Lemux started spouting off.  “We’re here!” Lemux chortled.  “We’re underneath the couch!”  

Glyquorg begged Lemux to be quiet, but the shanu simply crawled off of the Jack’s shoulder into view of a middle-aged woman.  The deceiving, rodent-sized cat-monkey pointed to the couch, telling the woman that there was a demon under the couch.  In a panic the woman left the home calling for the guard.  

Now desperate for a new place to hide Glyquorg ran upstairs in the home and grabbed a bedsheet.  Wrapping himself in the covering, the Exiled Jack then left the home through the back, spotting a nearby outhouse.  The sheets helped protect Glyquorg from the “sun”, but when he entered the outhouse his skin was nearly on fire.  Out of breath and tired the jack took ten minutes to catch his breath.

Knock, knock, knock.  The sound was coming from the door.  “Is this privy occupied?” a woman’s voice called.  

“Yes,” exclaimed Glyquorg.

Surprisingly the woman didn’t seem unnerved.  “Do you mind if I join you?”

Glyquorg was stunned.  He didn’t know what to say, but simply managed “Why not?”

Big mistake.

Quickly the outhouse filled with darkness, and the woman’s voice became dark and ominous.  It was the Lady Von Zarro, and she explained to poor Glyquorg that she was hungry.  Oh so very hungry.  The Exiled Jack was able to dodge the first inky black tentacle in an amazing feat of dexterity, but the second wrapped around his face, draining Glyquorg of all anger.  Fear quickly set in, and the jack ran outside, into the courtyard, caught fire, and then made his way into the basement of the nearby home.  

Takkorek was having an easier time.  While invisible, the Slacker Nano watched as the humans formed a lynch mob and set out for the “demons”.  Everyone left the tavern except the ants.  They remained behind at their table.  Takkorek went to the back of the establishment and tried some of the food and drink.  It was plain tasting and strange, although it satisfied his hunger.  When he returned to the front of the tavern the ants were gone.

And then the night returned.  

Somehow Glyquorg recalled the words of the “chant” he had heard while running down the road.  Repeating the same chant seemed to engage the “day/night” cycle.  Under the cover of darkness the Exiled Jack made his way out of the home and towards the forest and his friends.

Takkorek left the tavern at the same time, but instead of running to the forest he ran to a temple in the north.  Nearly there, the nano heard the chant again and it was suddenly daylight.  In pain from the brilliant “sun”, Takkorek was close enough to the church to create a portal, and even managed to slip through.  Takkorek was in the temple for but a moment before an inky black wisp wrapped around his waist, dragging him back out of the temple and into the open.  

Lady Von Zarro was now overtop of the poor Slacker Nano, and using her tendrils was feeding on Takkorek’s emotions.  Takkorek tried to bargain with the Lady, and asked why she didn’t just feed on the villagers.

“I cannot feed on the dead, only the living,” she said softly.  After taking her fill, the Lady scooped up the exhausted Takkorek and carried him into the woods.  “I’ll be back for more later, but you have been delicious.” 


“You don’t have to come back,” managed Takkorek, before dragging himself south to the rest of the team.  

Quotes



"Well the first thing I'm going to do is apologize to Andy's character for blowing him up a bunch of times…" - Frank gave contrition a shot, but I think he'll need to continue apologizing for a few more games.  

"No, no!  I swear!  I was possessed by moss!" - Marc mocking Frank's apology.

"I'm pretty sure they don't come from varjellen chests." - Craig was grossed out by Garren's chest baby.

"Uh… not again!" - Ralyx grabs a tree branch.

Andy - "I don't understand the animosity against my dead/undead friend."
Jeremy - "Your varjellen chest baby?"

"Show him your monkey!" - Frank said this… I can't remember when… but wow it was great.