|(Photo by Shannon, featuring her dear plastic fish friend "Stephen")|
A hot, mutated mess!
Over the next few months I'll be running a heck of a lot of Mutant Crawl Classics at some local conventions in eastern PA. Most notably PAX Unplugged and Save Against Fear. To fully prepare myself for these events, I wanted to run some playtests with local friends and family over the course of the next several weeks. Last night I tried the first of these playtests, and holy crap we had some challenges!
First and foremost, just prior to the start of the game, I had a weird allergic reaction. Not sure if something bit my lip, or if I was having a late food allergy reaction to the tempeh I had eaten, but the left side of my upper lip started swelling up. I also felt a bit of tightness in my mouth and throat, and I kinda freaked out. So I took a pair of Benedryl, and soldiered on.
Unfortunately, the two beers I had earlier in the night, coupled with the anti-histamine, really weighed on my stamina. About an hour into the game and I was getting sleepy. Two hours in I was really dragging. I was really struggling.
To make matters worse, my players (most notably my wife Jen) really derailed the adventure. Typically I can rebound from whenever players throw me curveballs, but last night my exhaustion got the better of me. Still, by the end of the game we had a good enough time to schedule next week's event, and hopefully I'll be steering clear of rogue insects and fermented soy beans.
Another interesting tidbit about last night's game was the near complete lack of pure strain human PC's. Take a look at our players and their 0-level characters:
- Barbara - Pure Strain Human
- Spoompls - Mutant
- Dankenstein - Plantient
- Randel - Mutant
- Violet - Plantient
- Tivian - Manimal
- Yor Bestfrend - Manimal
- Keila Kween - Mutant
- Fajt Bastud - Mutant
- Coco - Mutant
- Griffin - Manimal
- Perry - Plantient
- Heckboy - Mutant
- Too-Xtruh - Mutant
- AMP - Mutant
Check that count: 15 PC's, 8 mutants, 3 manimals, 3 plantients, and just 1 pure-strain human. What the heck?
For this session, I tried running The Museum at the End of Time by MCCRPG creator Judge Jim Wampler. This would mark the third time I had run the adventure, but first time that I twisted the setting to fit another version of Terra AD. In the adventure as written, the story takes place with PC's setting out across a great glowing desert in search of technology of the ancient ones. In my setting (which we should just call Mutant Paranoia Alpha for "reasons" that shall be disclosed later) the adventure begins in the small, jungle village of Portoa, part of the Clan of Cog and ruled by Chief Quelish.
The PC's were prepared to set out on their Rite of Passage, given to them by Chief Quelish. Their mission would be to travel out from the village, across the Snake River and into the Glowing Jungle. After passing beneath the sky road (a great stone road elevated above the ground by big pillars), they would possibly find some great structures created by the ancient ones, and more importantly, artifacts that would help defend Portoa from the rival village Shen.
The party crossed the river, and started moving through the jungle. Within an hour, they heard a yodeling. To help find the source, Spoompls sent out her psychic rat friend to look for the source. Sure enough, a half dozen shroom-head zombies waited for the party on the other side of some bushes. Shroom-head zombies were corpses of poor pure strain humans and mutants who had become infested by semi-sentient mushroom spore. The bodies were dead, but driven like vehicles by the mushroom colonies. The team could've quietly circumvented the shroom-head zombies, but instead Heckboy started blowing his conch trumpet. This sent the undead into a rage.
The zombies were far stronger than the village initiates expected. Untested in combat, mutant after mutant missed on their attack rolls against the undead. It wasn't until Too-Xtruhh offered a piece of shiny material to the zombies, that the fighting ceased. Once distracted, the team slinked away, continuing their trek through the jungle.
Next on their journey, the party found a weird green structure with a hole at its base. The hole lead to an enormous chamber hidden below the ground. This seemed like an obvious source of glory and riches. Perhaps within this chamber, fabulous artifacts of the ancient ones awaited, ripe to rival even those that could be found in the Citiadel far, far away.
Yor was able to convince the party that there wasn't anything good here, and that they didn't have enough rope to climb down (even though they did), and the team skipped the hole.
I should note that this was the start of The Museum at the End of Time. Typically I could figure out a way to better pique the interest of the players to continue down the intended path. But the Benedryl/Beer combo was really killing me at this point, and my lip was still swollen. I was definitely off my game something fierce!
The party continued traveling until they hit a wall. A giant cliff that stretched high into the sky, past the clouds, and as far as the eye could see to the left and right. Spoompls sent out her rat, which discovered that within the cracks of the wall were a series of hidden pipes and tubes. Tinkering with the wall, a hovering viewscreen appeared.
Calling itself LARS, the hovering screen seemed disinterested in revealing any information to any of the characters at first. LARS stated that it was there to serve the "colonists". It stated that the PC's were "pets" and not colonists. But Too-Xtruhh's mutations were quite mild, and the near-human was able to convince the bot that he was a colonist. LARS revealed the following pieces of interesting information:
- LARS stood for "Light Assistant Robotic Servant"
- LARS was created to assist colonists
- The world that the PC's lived on was referred to as "Habitat 3".
- The four directions (north, south, east, and west) were referred to as Clock, Counter, Shield, and Bell).
- Portoa village was Counter to the party's current facing. Shen was Bellward. The great Citadel was Counterbellward.
Eventually the party tried tinkering with the mechanisms of LARS and broke the bot. They continuously tinkered with it until it exploded killing a third of the party. Oops.
Around this time I was super sleepy and I tried calling it a night. I told the group that they had missed the main part of the adventure, and I was about to go into a coma. But I was prompted to keep going, so I revealed that the big green hole was the main part of the adventure. So the party backtracked. Not the most organic way to railroad the players, but oh well, I was so, so sleepy!
As to the actual adventure portion of The Museum at the End of Time, the party managed to climb down into the chamber. The climb cost Fajt Bastud his life, when he tried to act super cool to a fossilized dinosaur that he encountered during the descent. The chamber had five sets of doors, the two fossils, a lot of interesting scenes on the walls, and a dead, mummified corpse on the ground. The corpse yielded a pair of artifacts, one of which was destroyed (a gun) during investigation. The party recovered the comm badge though.
At this point, I let the PC's level up for our next session.
"My person's not a yogurt, its a tiger-worm." - Shannon
"Barbara from finance knows what she's doing." - Rachel