Saturday, March 1, 2014

Numenera - The Devil's Spine - Session 1

Numenera Session 5

The Devil's Spine - Session 1


Jen - Oswin, an Intelligent Nano who Fuses Flesh with Steel
Nate - Lynq, a Rugged Glaive who Explores Dark Places
Tom - Torrent, a Clever Jack who Rides the Lightning
Sarah - Silus, a Stealthy Jack who Exists Partially Out of Phase

*SPOILER ALERT* - If you haven't played The Devil's Spine yet, but plan to as a PC, please DO NOT READ this blog!


Not too long ago there was a shepherd boy who roamed the Cloudcrystal Skyfields with his family.  The boy was brave and exceptionally strong for his age.  So when bandit slavers slaughtered the boy's family and took him to the nearby city of Uxphon, deep within Deathwater Canyon, it's no wonder why he sold for such a high price.  Given his strength, the boy did not work as a simple servant long, and soon he was engaged nearly daily in gladiatorial combat with other slaves.  For several years the boy battled and defeated every opponent thrown against him, and when he turned thirteen his noble masters started to throw adult slaves against him.  This was no matter, as he easily dispatched all who he faced.  Eventually he was sold to man named Baron Tichronus.  At this point the boy was sixteen years old.  Although Tichronus let the boy fight several times under his noble house's name, the baron saw a spark in the boy and gave him his freedom in exchange for paid service as a bodyguard.  The boy worked several years under Baron Tichronus and then was given one last payment and told to find his own way in the world.  The baron purchased for the boy a mighty broadsword, and bid him adieu as the boy travelled into the wilderness, knowing that he could never return to his pastoral life, but instead, face darkness head on.

Lynq was finally free.

It came as some surprise that, years later, Lynq would receive a note while resting in Charmonde.  The glaive had served with Oswin, Torrent, and Silus, and the quartet were resting in Navarene's capital after an eventful excursion into the Vortex.  Not quite sure of where to go next, but knowing that their shins would only carry them so far in such an expensive city, Lynq's note from the Baron Tichronus of Uxphon would come as a great surprise!  The baron had been called upon by the Amber Pope to aid in an upcoming crusade agains the Gaians north of the Cloudcrystal Skyfields.  Given that he would be taking his most loyal retainers with him, the baron offered to pay for Lynq's services again if he would come and act as caregiver to his estate within the smoggy, pipe-entwined city of Uxphon.  With nothing else on their plates, the foursome gathered their belongings, and set out for the northern Beyond.

When the party arrived in Uxphon and the Tichronus estate they were greeted by Dorial.  The baron's servant explained that his lord had to travel early to meet with some of the Aeon Priests that were taking part in the crusade, and so he was given instruction to show the party around.  The estate consisted of three buildings: a main house, a storage shelter, and a stable.  There were a dozen slaves left on the property, their escape prevented by explosive collars strapped to their necks.  The party was to protect the home for a month, and ensure that no bandits, raiders, or thieves tried to get into the building.  No guests were expected, and at the end of the month each party-member would receive one shin for each day of service.  Dorial's monocled eye glanced at each of the characters, seeing them as nothing but riffraff, and he gave them one final command to leave all of the belongings in the house alone.  With that the servant left Lynq in charge, and headed out on the back of the last remaining aneen.

Lynq's first order to his team was to start searching the house for numenera.  The party started going into each room and exploring.  This may have been the home of the nobleman that freed Lynq, but from the looks of it, the rugged glaive may have had some respect for the baron, but no love.  Torrent brushed up on his lock picking skills and started opening doors on the second level of the home.  He was unable to crack the lock to the baron's room.  In Dorial's room Oswin searched for a cool monocle like the servant was wearing, but only found a small chest.  Torrent unlocked this as well, uncovering some shins that the party would leave in the chest, since they had a whole month to come back and finish their theft.  Eventually they would make their way to the study.

The study was an amazing room full of books that were stacked nearly a dozen feet high in a circle around a large table.  Torrent started looking through the books, but was under the belief that there had to be something of more value in the room.  Eventually he came to a panel that had dozens of old buttons attached to it.  The symbols on the buttons were like nothing the jack, nor the rest of that party, had ever seen.  Some were ancient letters, some squiggles, some just colors or textures.  Given the technological nature of the panel, Oswin decided to take a closer look.  The nano observed the panel, and pulled a long wire from within her chest and connected it directly to the panel.  Although it was exceptionally difficult to operate the controls without knowing the combination, Oswin was able to bypass the security systems with almost a supernatural skill!  The nano cracked the code and manually manipulated the ancient device, which was a control panel for a secret door in the floor.

Below the floor, about thirty feet down, was a room that gave off a soft glow appearance in the light from above.  Given his proclivity for exploring dark places Lynq grabbed some rope, tied off, and lowered himself into the room.  As he neared the floor it was apparent that the "green" nature of the room was due to the small green balls that were all about.  They covered the walls, the floor, each edge.  He lowered himself further and saw that there were larger green capsules as well, some the size, and possibly shape, of a human or abhuman.  Once on the squishy ground Lynq started to trounce about until he realized that he wasn't alone.  His movement had disturbed… something.  With a flash a purple creature the size of a cat but resembling an ancient trilobite flew out of one of the nearby piles.  Quickly Lynq went on the defensive, and as soon as the creature reached his arm he was able to scrape it off with his shield.  When a second creature appeared, and Lynq was knocked to his back, Torrent knew that he had to get involved.  The jack slid down the rope quickly and was standing back to back with the glaive, electrically charged verred drawn, in hand.  While Lynq was able to keep the creatures at bay, however, Torrent's lack of a shield was causing him trouble.  Even though he was successful in lashing out against one of the creatures, giving it a sharp blast with his charged forked sword, it still managed to get to his leg and climb onto his back.  Oswin started operating her hunter/seeker device from above but couldn't get a decent angle on the creature.  Silus used her disruption ray against the creature on Torrent's back, but unfortunately managed to hurt the jack as well as the creature.  Before the party could do anything else for Torrent the creature burrowed dozens of sharp spikes into his spine, embedding itself in his spine.

Immediately the clever jack was shaking his head and started to get protective feelings in his mind about the rest of the eggs.  Lynq didn't really care, and he continued to slash and destroy the two remaining creatures.  It was around this time that The Lily showed up.  From the southern edge of the room, near a previously unknown doorway that would lead deeper into the structure, a human sized female figure made of stone approached the party.  It's voice was soft, almost too soft to hear.  It said it was "The Lily", and that it was looking after the egg room.  After much questioning, especially by Torrent who was looking for a way to get the creature off his back, the Lily told the part of the life-cycle of the Nagaina.  The creature on Torrent's back was a Nagaina defender.  After a giant egg pouch was laid in the body of a freshly dead, or nearly dead, creature, smaller eggs emerged, and in each was two creatures.  A "sleeper" would go on growing in a dormant phase before it hatched to grow into a giant worm, possibly even a brilliant "Matron".  The "defender" would hatch and watch over the sleeper, possibly attacking intruders and turning them into willing slaves to the Nagaina nest.  the slave would have about 28 hours to get out of sight of the eggs before he or she would feel the uncontrollable compulsion to do nothing but stand watch.  After three months the slave would die from the connection with the defender.  Torrent didn't like this plan.  He asked if anything could be done, and the Lily explained that it was possible to talk with Devola, who was the Nagaina matron who had made this nest.  The Lily said that the nest was made in a deal with the "master" upstairs (a reference to the baron), and that the matron could be found deeper within the passages behind her.  And then there was a hard knock on the door.

Upstairs, there was a female voice at the door of the estate, shouting angrily and demanding entrance.  Not wanting their recent robbery to be uncovered, and not sure what to do with Torrent at this point, Oswin and Silus ran over to the front door and started talking with Lady Isaltha.  Claiming to be the betrothed of Baron Tichronus, Isaltha wanted to get in the house so that she could start moving in.  Oswin wanted to kill her, because really no loose ends should be left behind, but Silus was a bit less sadistic.  Carefully the stealthy jack started crafting a tale about the baron, and how he was sick with a deadly disease and had left the home to seek treatment in another city.  The tale was spun so incredibly well that Lady Isaltha was in shock, and decided to come back in a month.  Oswin was quite sad that she didn't get to use one of her devices on the woman, but it was probably for the best.

With Lady Isaltha dealt with the party needed to figure out a way to get that defender off of Torrent's back.  Seeing no choice but to follow the Lily's advice and seek out Devola, the team headed into the dangerous tunnels that lay beneath the great city.  It would take hours to get to Devola's lair, and each hour was more perilous than the last.  Some passages would seem clear and then end up as dead ends.  Others led to strange and unsettling creatures and events.  Down one passageway the party uncovered a stoically standing Philethis.  The being radiated incredible power to Oswin when she scanned it, but seemed not to be a threat to the troupe.  Lynq was repeatedly asking permission to smash the thing, hoping that Oswin could reap several cyphers and artifacts off if it, however Torrent and Silus were more interested in conversing with the near-alien being.  Every question they asked was answered in a strange, unrelated phrase.  This non-conversation went on for several minutes before the characters just decided to continue on their way.  There were two bodies nearby, ancient skeletons who had in their position some carbon-fiber grappling hooks, and these could prove to be useful, but the opportunity to destroy the Philethis and plunder it's corpse came and went.  The being watched them depart, and Oswin gave a small wave from a distance.

Their next encounter was with a laak swarm.  At a narrow point in the tunnel the party was walking along, minding their own business, when Lynq found himself suddenly covered in lizards.  The creature were especially bitey, and their pointy teeth were covered in a nasty poison.  Although not a significant threat, the laak did manage to slow down the party, and force them to exert themselves a bit more before having to face off with the nagaina matron.  As they moved into their eighth hour of exploration they would finally find her lair.

Slowly the party moved into the large chamber of the matron.  The tunnels under Uxphon took them to an entrance that was nearly as ancient as the city.  Large tubes and walkways allowed them to slowly descend into the seemingly vast chamber, with a ceiling fifty feet high containing large vats and tanks.  The party passed through a mist as well, which was bitter to the tongue, and left them all coated in some kind of substance.  But it was no matter, for the numenera hunters had a much larger potential threat in front of them.  At the end of the walkway, at the bottom of the chamber, was a seventy foot long coiled serpent with a worm-like, three-sectioned mouth.  There were tentacles near the head of the creature, each one coiled around a tool, device, or possible cypher.

"Why are you here?" the raspy voice of the nagaina matron asked the party.  

Torrent's Days With the Defender:  1


- "He was explicit, Lynq, you are now in charge." - GM instructions regarding the party watching over Tichronus' estate.
- "Let's ransack the place!" - Lynq
- "House party!" - Silus
- "I call the monocle!" - Oswin

"I'll name if 'Fluffy,' can I stroke it gently?" - Nate liked his new Nagaina Defender that was tenderly crawling up his arm.

- "Are you staying down there?" - Jim the GM referring to the bottom of the egg pit
- "Is that cute stone girl staying down there?" - Nate referring to The Lily
- "Yes…" - Jim
- "Then I'm staying there." - Nate

"Let's gang beat it!" - Lynq's answer to the Philethis.


  1. Great post! I'm running this campaign myself, and it's interesting to see the similarities and differences in how your group handled it.

    Sounds like you're all having a lot of fun, and I'm glad to see the same characters who starred in Vortex. It's ironic because I'm considering running Vortex after The Devil's Spine and you did it before. ;) I can think of a lot (most) of games I've played that didn't have such flexibility. Another strength of the Cypher System.

  2. It's a great group of players actually! 4 people who are new to RPG's, so every time we do something, for them it's the first time. This is their first foray into a "horror" theme. We did lose one of the nanos after the second adventure, but I'm finding that four players may be the optimal number for Numenera.