Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Numenera - The Devil's Spine - Session 10

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!


  • 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
  • Nero, a Mad Nano who Travels Through Time, played by +David Howard 
    • New Focus: Would Rather Be Reading
  • 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

Previously on The Devil's Spine

Session 10:  Peril in the Pit

On Monday night we celebrated our second session of this "Ninth World meets Weird West" mashup by doing absolutely nothing that had to do with the Weird West.  If you remember, during our last session I expected my players to visit a nearby town for some old-timey, nineteenth century high jinks.  Well that didn't happen.  The party skipped an investigation of their new timestream, and just went right up the mountain in search of the Impossible Blade.

What the heck?  I want some Weird West action, and I want it now!  

The team still had some odds and ends to clean up:

  • Following the last encounter with the cypherids, the party had to distribute the fifteen cyphers that they recovered.  
  • The party changed the name of Ruun's new rifle-artifact.  Suzanne, the lever-action, numenera-infused gun, would now be known as 5UZ4NNE.  Perhaps I should make that canon, and rule that it's PL4T0's cousin?
  • It was clearly a time for recovery rolls.  
  • Nero used an esotery to assemble "Babbage," a construct minion.
  • PL4T0 used a cypher to duplicate Ruun so that the team would have an entity to use as "trap bait."  

It was during this rest that some members of the party investigated the nearby area.  Although the party's initial reaction to this young land was that it seemed pristine and untouched, the area surrounding the pit was straight out of the Ninth World.  The dirt was not soil but common drit found in the Steadfast and Beyond.  The nearby tower structures were not built, but seemed to have grown out of the ground like nails from a finger.  The area raised a lot of questions, so many of which could've led the party back down the mountain to the nearby town where maybe they could get some answers.  

But instead, the party decided to go down into the pit.

Again... what the heck?

The duplicate of Ruun was the first down a long, wooden spiral staircase.  He made it nearly three-hundred feet until coming to an archway.  Just before reaching the entrance to that level, one of the steps gave way, and duplicate run fell to his duplicate death.  Figuring that the duplicate proved that the steps were relatively safe (save for the last one) the rest of the team traveled down to the first chamber.

The room was full of bas-reliefs, each carved from a strange kind of stone.  On the fair end of the wall, one of the bas-reliefs depicted an insectoid terror with two crystalline eyes.  Between searching, scanning, and knowledge of the numenera, the team came to the conclusion that this entire was built out of a type of stone that had an effect on temporal energy.  Time worked very differently here.  

Using his interface ability, PL4T0 was able to connect with a nearby piece of technology: the two button eyes in the insect bas-relief that controlled a door.  PL4T0 and the door became close friends.  To the semi-self-aware door, PL4T0 was a new deity.  To PL4T0, the door was a door.

"Door" led to a long hallway and another chamber.  It was dark, so Nero sent Babbage...

... and then the poor automaton got skewered by a great scorpion's stinger.  Babbage could've survived if not for the flurry of detonations that were flung at the Auturi - a terrible, 3D printed mecha-organic fly/crab/scorpion thing.  

Oh, for those of you running The Devil's Spine for higher tier characters, I made the Auturi a bit hardier.  Level 6 with 32 health and 2 attacks did the trick.  

The scorpion robot fly flew into combat, injected Keane with a bunch of poison that changed his arm's genetic code and turned it permanently purple, and wrecked the hell out of PL4T0's silicon body.  This was a pretty tough fight in general, but the party pulled through.  I don't even think Ruun was hit, and he proved that 5UZ4NNE was a pretty powerful piece of equipment.

After the fight, the party entered the next chamber revealing an Auturi creating, 3D printing device.  The team slowed the process down, and went back to the archway.  The only other place of interest in the pit was a landing about two-hundred feet below the archway.  Ruun was the first to climb down, and I was all ready to throw a GM Intrusion at Will, when something crazy happened...

... Will declined the GM Intrusion!  

This was a first for Will.  I guess the idea of getting GMI'd while climbing down rope, with a potential of falling down an impossibly deep well, was too risky.

Once everyone was down we moved on to the next portion of The Devil's Spine...  or should I say "we DIDN'T move on."


The next part of this adventure was supposed to be the alphabet puzzle found on page 50 of The Devil's Spine.  This is the one where there are a series of five doors, and the party has to open and close them in a particular order, but the only hint is a series of letters found earlier in the adventure.  In my version, it was the old fishing dude who handed this over.  


From that sequence of letters the party was supposed to figure out that they needed to open the first door, open the second door, close the first door, open the third door, etc.  Personally, I thought it was a rather vague clue, and could see our group mulling this over repeatedly.  I think I was lucky that I got them to skip out of the Auturi chamber above without spending a full hour looking for an exit from that chamber other than going back out the way then came.  And it wasn't like there was an alternate way around the "alternating door opening puzzle", because the doors were all Level 10.  Pretty much just one way to move the entire adventure along.  

So we skipped the entire scene.

The next part of the adventure was a bit of a blur... a trap-filled, seemingly "Tomb of Horror" inspired blur.  Arrow traps, pit traps, failing ceilings.  It was pretty clear that this next entire sequence of the "Quest for the Impossible Blade" was going to require some pretty-typical dungeon crawling.

Which we'll save for next week.


"Sometimes you're like 'I don't want ice cream at all, I want sorbet.'" - Marc, before the game.

Ruun - "I don't know where this Kansas is, but I don't want to go."
Door - "I am a door." 

"Now you know what the door feels like!" - Will to Marc, who had just been interfaced with by the Auturi.  

Marc - "Dr. Nero... Medicine Woman."
David - "Medicinal Person!" 

"Is this Tomb of Horrors?" - David was right on the money.  

"Could you form some crude stilts?" - Marc to David, trying to help his pal get out of a pit trap.  

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