Thursday, October 26, 2017

Numenera - The Devil's Spine - Session 11


All the Numenera!


We interrupt your regularly scheduled campaign update for our gonzo jaunt through The Devil's Spine to let you know that, as of this blog post, there are less than 24 hours left in the Numenera 2: Discovery and Destiny Kickstarter Campaign. So if you want to jump in on this madness (and admit it... you DEFINITELY WANT IN!) take a quick break from reading and follow the link and go check out the campaign. Then lock in your backer level and get yourself some weird.

You're still here? What? Didn't you hear me?

I SAID GET YOURSELF SOME WEIRD!

Once Upon a Time in the Ninth World


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!

Oh, and if you are expecting this adventure series to look anything like how The Devil's Spine is supposed to look, I apologize now. 

Seriously, all we do is go off the rails.

#ScrewTheRails

Characters


  • Belmodan, a Resourceful Seeker who Wields a Whip, played by +andrew lyon 
    • New Focus: Collects Bounties
  • Keane, a Rebellious Glaive who Likes to Break Things, played by +Craig McCullough 
    • New Focus:  Needs No Weapon
  • PL4T0, an Artificially Intelligent Jack who Resides in Silicon, played by +Marc Plourde
    • New Focus: No Change
  • Ruun, an Exiled Glaive who Gazes into the Abyss, played by +William Keller 
    • New Focus:  Wears Spurs
  • Rooster Bladesmyth, a Slick Jack who Collects Bounties, played by +Reece Carter 

Previously on The Devil's Spine


Session 11:  It's Been a While


Dude, how long has it been?

Five months. Five damn months since we last sat down and journeyed with Belmodan, Keane, PL4T0, Ruun, and Nero. Not that we haven't tried getting together to play. I think there were three occasions this summer when we tried to get this game back off the ground. Maybe even four times. But schedules just weren't meant to be. We were short players a couple of the events, and short a GM (by far the most important part) for another couple. 

I figure the campaign was cursed and just wrote it off. This would've been my second failed attempt at running The Devil's Spine. Seriously, I knew I was letting Monte down at this point.  

But then something happened... the Numenera 2 Kickstarter. I was like "damn, we need to get back to that game!" Then it happened. I put out the call, and scheduled a date. 

And what do you know? Everyone showed up!

Well, everyone except, +David Howard... so his character got used as a plot hook. Again. 

We even got another player for the event, the one-and-only +Reece Carter! I put a call out over on Facebook for another player, an Reece jumped in. And since he's from Australia, I may now have regular players on THREE different continents, when I count +Jonata Sodre from over in the DCC Purple Planet campaign. 

Great stuff!

Anyway, I know a lot of you come here to read the adventure recaps, and I'm just about to get there. But I'm telling you now: you need to bear with me. I read the last recap from May about four times and then went back and read sessions eight and nine as well. Even after all of this reading, I had no idea where I was going with this campaign back in the fall. 

I mean, who the hell had the bright idea to try to do a quasi-Deadlands crossover campaign in the middle of a published Numenera module? 

Dammit, it was a good idea at the time!

But it's all good, I think I remembered enough to at least the the game flowing... sort of. I just needed to make a couple of quick adjustments to the adventure to make things work. Here I'll share them with you:

[GM's Note: Want to shorten the length of The Mechanized Tomb section from The Devil's Spine? Just rip out areas 7 through 17, keep 18, and cut out 19 to 26.]

Look, it's not like these areas weren't full of great stuff, but I just didn't have time to dig through it all. At the rate this party was going, we'd be stuck down in that pit for the next six months. 

Did I mention that this campaign is monthly again?

I promise, this will help make more sense. It'll also give me a chance to undo some of the Deadlands madness that I was starting to throw in. We had a nice and tidy wrap up of The Mechanized Tomb and next game we start in on Beyond the Maelstrom. 

I also promise to run part three of The Devil's Spine a bit closer to how it was originally written by Monte.

I'm about 85% sure that I won't be able to keep that promise. 

"Hey James! Stop ranting and just tell us what happened last night!" 

Okay, okay, here we go.

We started the adventure with the tale of Rooster Bladesmythe. I gave Reece the option of having a character native to the 1870's or the Ninth World. He went with a western-style bounty hunter. Rooster had tracked the no good, cold-hearted Lock Jaw McGraw all the way to The Tomb of Queen Starloscet. Lock Jaw McGraw, also known as the "Strangler of Laredo," was a well known murderer of prostitutes, who would choke them to death with his own beard.

The party met up when they moved beyond a trap laden room into another chamber, discovering Rooster and Lock Jaw. The former had captured the latter, tying him up before realizing that there was no way out of this bizarrely adorned series of tombs and crypts. He couldn't climb out of the pit on his own, at least not with his mark, so he decided to wait. 

But he wasn't expecting Belmodan, Keane, and Ruun. Oh, and he REALLY wasn't expecting PL4T0, who was a floating bot with a cowboy hat. Did I mention yet that Nero was missing?

Nero was missing. No one seemed bothered by this.

You know, the next series of scenes is such a hot mess that it'd be easier for me to break it out piece by piece in bullet points:


  1. Rooster uses Lock Jaw as a human shield while negotiating with the rest of the party.
  2. PL4T0 tries to scan Lock Jaw.
  3. Lock Jaw breaks free from Rooster and starts to crush PL4T0 with his beard.
  4. Rooster knocks out Lock Jaw.
  5. Belmodan pulls his whip on Rooster an Rooster pull's his gun on Belmodan.
  6. Just before there could be any real PVP, the ceramic tiles on the walls start to attack everyone.

No, this was not something that was in the original adventure. Instead, this was the only way I could get the entire scene from completely devolving into a player vs. player scenario. I was like "what the hell could I throw into the adventure that would band everyone together..."

"How about the walls themselves!?!"

Yeah, that's the best I could come up with. Was actually inspired by "The Floors" from Ultima III Exodus. I did some quick stats on the fly:

The Walls: Living ceramic tiles that are comprised of colonies of mineral deposits with insect-like intelligence. Level 4, 5 health per tile, 5 damage with a successful hit as they burrow into skin. 

I thought the tile encounter was a lot of fun, actually. We had some great GM Intrusions, and when Ruun decided to eat some of the tiles, they burrowed into his mouth and replaced two of his teeth. That'll be fun to play with later. Marc was pretty ticked off with me that I would let him scan the tiles to see if they were organic or not. I figured that as minerals they weren't really "organic" but also weren't "machines." Oh well. 

After the battle with the walls, Rooster teamed up with the party and introduced them to some of the chambers that he had already explored. One of which held a sarcophagus bearing a woman's image. The party popped the lid and traveled down a long vertical tunnel. 

[GM's Note: here's where I skipped everything from chamber 7 through 17. Sorry. Oh, and in the next room I totally made up everything except for the "show 'em" that was given to us by the author.]

At the bottom of the tube the party found themselves in a room with three glowing green pods, a floor covered in green ooze, and a bunch of creepy mutant-things just bounding around. One was a cross between a rat and a grasshopper, one was a penguin with thin human legs and tentacles coming out of its back, one was a ball of moving human arms, and the last one was a six legged, dog sized rat with a human face.

That last one would eventually say his name was Mr. Sanderson, and he and Ruun would become pals.

PL4T0 got to work investigating the pods, and came to the conclusion that they were powering the entirety of the facility. One contained a brain and nervous system floating in stasis, another was a dead woman's corpse clutching a blade (a fairly "impossible" blade) and a scepter. The last was Nero. 

[GM's Note: It was Nero's connection to time travel this entire time that caused this tomb from the Ninth World to exist back in a prior world. Because Nero is my giant, walking plot hook. Because time travel let's a crappy GM do whatever they want, whenever they want. How did he get connected to the device? How the hell should I know?]

There was a lot of button pushing (with goo shooting out, causing mutations) and lever pulling, and the party got a hold of the queen's body, the Impossible Blade that they needed, and Nero. But once the Mad Nano was disconnected the entire facility started to collapse, Aliens style. The party did a mad dash to get out of the chambers and back to the pit. 

Once at the edge of the great pit, the party looked up and saw that the sky was moving. Quickly they scaled the wall, with PL4T0 far stepping to the next platform so that he could lower some rope down. This would've gone a lot easier for everyone if Ruun wasn't trying to bring Mr. Sanderson along and if Rooster wasn't dragging Lock Jaw McGraw by rope.

During the last sequence, while Rooster was pulling Lock Jaw up fifteen meters, the rope snapped and the Strangler of Laredo started to fall. But after getting exposed to lots of radioactive goo, Lock Jaw was able to shoot his beard up and at Rooster, in an attempt to drag him along for a ride to certain doom. But that's when PL4T0 swooped in with the Impossible Blade, cutting Rooster free.

Once at the top of the pit, the party looked around and realized that they were back in the Ninth World...

... and Rooster realized that he wasn't in the Old West anymore. 


Quotes


"This is gonna sound dumb... in Australia they spell 'Rooster' with one one 'o'?" - Andy to Reece, just cementing international relations. 

"Have you not been to Thailand?" - Reece brought this up, but then again, so did everyone by the end of the night. 

"It's just splitting hairs." - PL4T0 cutting Lock Jaw McGraw's beard.