Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Numenera - The Devil's Spine - Session 7


The Devil's Spine Campaign Log


Welcome to our group's campaign log for The Devil's Spine, a mega-adventure by +Monte Cook for the Numenera campaign setting.  

Originally this was going to be a pure and simple campaign log.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Just a record for me and my friends to keep track of what was going on in the game.  But I've decided that, as we progress through the adventure, I'd do some commentary and/or reviews on different parts of the adventure.  So... SPOILERS!


Characters


  • Belmodan, a Resourceful Seeker who Wields a Whip, played by +andrew lyon 
  • Keane, a Rebellious Glaive who Likes to Break Things, played by +Craig McCullough 
  • Nero, a Mad Nano who Travels Through Time, played by +David Howard 
  • PL4T0, an Artificially Intelligent Jack who Resides in Silicon, played by +Marc Plourde
  • Ruun, an Exiled Glaive who Gazes into the Abyss, played by +William Keller 

Previously on The Devil's Spine


Session 7:  Unjumping the Shark


I don't know where to begin.

Last night's game was intended to be a bridge between the first and second act of The Devil's Spine.  I advanced the story two weeks, and opened up the city of Uxphon to the players, with the intent of allowing them to do any shopping and exploration as they prepared themselves to continue on their quest to free Belmoan, Keane, and Nero of their parasites.  

It was also my intent to "un-jump the shark." 

Over the last two sessions, our games have gotten progressively more outlandish.  "Weird" is certainly expected in any Numenera adventure, as the entire concept of the setting is that a world one billion years in the future should certainly be a bizarre place.  But I use the word "outlandish," because I've gone and jumped the shark with the campaign.  In session five, our hovering bot PL4T0 crafted mutated cragworm Manolo Blahniks for the PC's to wear.  In session six I leveraged Nero's time traveling focus in a GM Intrusion that sent  Belmodan back to a prior world, where Nero owned a popular and very successful chain of fried flish restaurants.  As we moved into The Devil's Spine's second act, I fully intended to bring things back to a weird sort of normal.

I soon realized that this was impossible for this Numenera campaign.  

Our party of brave numenera hunters, afflicted with the parasitic nagaina defenders on three of their backs, had returned to the Nagaina Matron Devola for information on their next task.  They were informed that three townsfolk of Uxphon could potentially have information as to where to find The Impossible Blade, a surgical tool that could cut away the parasites.  There was Om the trinket salesperson, Derris the weaponsmith, and Sabazia the fortune teller.

So far, so good.

I should note that none of these NPC's have that much detail written about them or their place of business in The Devil's Spine.  About a paragraph each, is all you really get.  If you just want to use them for quick sources of info, that's fine, but if you want to get heavy into their backstory you'll need to add some of your own tidbits.  Personally, I like to delve into Injecting the Weird if I'm going to spice things up for my game.  Just reading through some of the bizarre entries helps me come up with stuff on the fly.  

For Om, I placed the trinket salesperson's store beneath one of Uxphon's great pipes.  The entire place of business just hung, suspended by cables, dangling in the whipping winds of the Black Riage.  Om himself was an interesting man, who had much to sell.  One oddity he was very interested in parting with was a deck of thirty cards.  According to Om, each card possessed the living consciousness of a gambler who lost playing a game with the deck.  Fifty shins was the asking price.  I really thought someone would make purchase, but no one seemed interested.

A second oddity was a small wooden box with palm trees on the outside.  Belmodan picked up the box, and felt a sea breeze wafting out from the pitch black interior.  The seeker placed his hand into the box, and then the rest of his arm, as if it were a bag of holding from another kind of role-playing game.  When Belmodan's hand touched water, he felt immense pain, and could not retract the appendage.  Listening to the box, it became clear: some kind of Iscobalian whaling ship had grabbed his arm on the other side!  

The box somehow teleported Belmodan's arm into the waters off of Iscobal, but also enlarged it to be fifty feet long.  When the seeker did finally yank his arm out, aided by the rest of the party, there were two tiny sailors attached to it: Bjorn and Matilda.  PL4T0 flicked Matilda's head, killing her, and then Belmodan sold Bjorn to Om for seventy-five shins.  Om hinted at using the tiny sailor as a slave, to be tasked with caring for his aneen's lower intestinal health.  

During this exchange, Om told the party that Eenosh, a bizarre creature that lived in the Cloudcrystal Skyfields, had come to town with some interest in the Impossible Blade.  

The interaction with Derris was entertaining to say the least.  To make the blacksmith even more weird, I stated that all of his weapons were bizarre and unusual.  He only sold the weapons out of the equipment list that were Numenera native.  Things like buzzers or razor rings, but no swords.  Derris did have a fine collection of fruit-themed weapons though, such as a mace with a bronze strawberry head, or a flail that had bananas instead of spiked balls on the end.  The blacksmith himself lacked biceps, and just had floating forearms connected via energy to electrical sockets jutting out from his shoulders.

Derris told the party that his arms were gifts from Eenosh, and that he traded his real arms for these weird arms.  Again, not in the original adventure by Mr. Cook, but what the hell.  PL4T0 then made a big deal about Derris' real arms, and where they could've been, and what they could be doing at this very minute.  Who they could be touching and how they could be touching that who were emphasized.  I ruled that Derris went catatonic.  So Derris decided to lay down.

Nero, whose player David stated was "crazy", laid down right next to Derris and continued to interrogate the man.  It was the most disturbing interrogation scene I've ever witnessed in a role-playing game.  Nothing really happened, just the idea of Nero (a crazy man) laying down next to a cyber-blacksmith, whispering questions into his ear.  Freaky.

Derris revealed that he was unable to recreate the Impossible Blade for Eenosh, but knew where to find the entity.  This information was passed on to the party, and they moved on to Sabazia the fortune teller.

The scene with Sabazia was a bit of a letdown compared to what we had just witnessed.  The fortune teller charged ten shins a piece, and Belmodan and Nero paid up.  I tried using Rory's Story Cubes to create interesting tales about the characters' futures, but the results were lukewarm.  

As a GM Intrusion, again leaning on Nero's time travelling backstory, I revealed that his character would die in a field of crimson wheat, drowning in tiny red globules that would force their way down his throat after first melting off his appendages.  

For Belmodan's fortune, I just told him that "the key to your questions is in the telephone of knowledge."

What the hell is that supposed to mean?



Quotes


"PL4T0 doesn't have a backbone." - Will praising Marc's character.

"What's in the box!" - Marc.  This quote never gets old though.

"Alright, so we've sold Bjorn the sailor for 75 shins.  Things you never thought you'd say out loud." - David was right.

"For all you know, your arms could be touching someone's butt right now." - Marc commenting on Derris' hovering arms.

"I came prepared to unjump the shark, but you all cried out 'no!'" - Jim to the group.