Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Primordial

The adventure in Pitchblende Flats came to an end a few weeks ago. The magma pocket responsible for the earthquakes compressed the richest deposit of uranium ore in the desert, causing it to undergo fission and explode. God's Candle, the radium mountain in the center of the blast was vaporized, spreading deadly radioactive dust all over the desert. All that was left was a smouldering crater and an expanding cloud of radioactive debris.

The players hijacked a biplane in order to escape. Despite my best efforts to make them die there in the desert and face all the mistakes they made, they made it out alive. This was in spite of the sky pirates, riots and some of the most powerful monsters in the game, the Radijastsks all standing in their way. But one of the players was left behind. Obtuse Goose's character Omaru stood in the middle of the desert, alone. The town of Trinity had been annihilated. All that was left was a swirling whirlwind of dust and the rising mushroom cloud in the distance.

So Omaru wandered ground zero alone, looking for any survivors. Eventually, he found a smashed, overturned tank and a small gnoll laying in the shade of the burnt out hulk. The gnoll was delirious and covered in radiation burns, just barely clinging to life. Omaru scooped him up in his giant robotic hand. A quick scan revealed he was actually one of the Bristlefur gnolls from much earlier in the campaign, the only survivor of the player's previous murder spree.

Benny Bristlefur was too hurt to notice as the robot took him away from the wreckage. And so, they were back to wandering the wastelands. After several hours of aimless walking, they happened across a small military camp full of refugees trying to escape the desert. Every one of them was irradiated and burnt to a crisp. Some simply laid down in the sand and died, just barely making it to the edge of the camp before they succumbed to radiation poisoning. Meanwhile the medics were frantically trying to set up a triage, forcing healing potions down the throats of anyone still breathing.

Omaru walked into the camp and was greeted by awestruck stares. He towered over the hastily put together tents and half-melted military machines. A commander burst out of one of the tents and strode over to greet him. His eyes were hidden by mirror shades. He was angrily gnawing on the stem of a corncob pipe. He took one look at Omaru and started telling him the battle plan. Obviously, he was under the impression that Omaru was their backup from the rest of the occupying force.

See, Pitchblende Flats was something of a buffer state between two huge nations vying for control of the region: the Principality of Tyrak and the Akrashtk Empire. With Trinity destroyed, there was no local government and thus, no one laying claim to the region. When news broke out that the desert had been destroyed there was a mad dash to lay claim to the ruins and thus, exclusive rights to mine the region's rich radioactive ores. Tyrak made it there first and were busy escorting refugees out of the blast zone. But they had already come under attack from an enemy force that was systematically raiding their forward camps, cutting off communication from one another. The commander told Omaru that they thought it was the Akrashtk at first. But the attacks seemed to be spreading outward, directly from the center of the explosion.

News was still coming out of the front, in bits and pieces. The last the commander had heard, their main battle group was rerouted to fight whatever it was that was attacking their camps. No matter what they did, none of their weapons could stop it. He lowered his sunglasses and told Omaru that a single, massive creature had waded out of the fireball and was now rampaging across the desert.

The commander had a map brought out and did his best to explain the situation. One of their hoverships had crash landed just south of their camp and he needed Omaru to go investigate. With luck, there would be some survivors and they could tell them something useful about the creature that attacked them. But as he went on explaining their plan, Omaru noticed a flickering orange light coming out of the dust cloud.

More and more of the lights appeared, until the camp was completely surrounded. The soldiers got into position and prepared for the worst. Omaru stood in the middle of the camp and tried to make sense of what he was seeing. The lights came closer and soon they realized a horde of fire elementals were coming to burn down the camp. The soldiers opened fire from their machine gun nests. Omaru swept the entire field with his mining laser, the bright red beam clearly visible in the dust cloud. Dozens of fire elementals were disintegrated as they charged the camp, but more of them kept coming. One of the machine guns jammed and an elemental lept into the fox hole. It started cooking off entire belts of ammunition with it's intense body heat. The whole camp suddenly went up in flames. The still dying, radioactive locals started to panic. Omaru and Benny threw everything they had at the elementals. One after another, they were disintegrated, leaving heaps of ash and embers were they were cut down. Eventually, they drove off the elemental. The last few stragglers were swept away by the last working machine gun. As the whole camp burned around them the commander told Omaru they were leaving. It was up to him now to find the downed hovership and get to a working radio. It was obvious there was no salvaging this situation. All that was left was to find a way to get in touch with headquarters and authorize "protocol 2000-0-0".

And so, Benny and Omaru went south, following a tall plume of oily black smoke, fighting fire elementals the whole way. Omaru's audio sensors are some of the best on the planet and through the deep rumbling of the distant earthquakes and the sudden upsurges of magma he could hear the sounds of battle far away and a single droning growl, growing louder and louder with ever second. Huge, crashing 'thuds' were approaching in a measured, steady pace.

A dull orange light appeared over the horizon as they approached the mesa ruins, like a distant wildfire getting closer and closer. Before the explosion, the mesas were enormous pillars of red stone, which had stood there for generations upon generations. Living on top of the stories tall rocks were nomadic tribes of sky pirates and in the deep canyons were cool springs of fresh water. Shielded from the desert sun, huge clusters of fragrant cacti once grew. Wild Radijastks had called the mesas home, but no longer. All that was left were splintered heaps of pulverized rock, mountains of gravel smouldering in the dust cloud.

But they were closing in on the signal from the hovership. All the while the distant light grew brighter. Eventually, they found it. The ship had been smashed to pieces and a thin line of molten metal cut across the body of the craft, as if another laser had swept across it. Two survivors were struggling to call someone over the radio. When they saw Omaru and Benny approach they ran over and started telling them a wild story of what they had seen. There was a huge crater where the radium mountain once stood. When they went to investigate something crawled out and walked right past them like they weren't even there.

All the while the light grew brighter and fire elementals stampeded down the hill. A single, bright point appeared in the distance; a shiny blue stone, like a giant crystal appeared, wreathed in flame. It grew larger and brighter; the crystal sitting atop a swirling, churning body of fire, with three enormous legs of flame striding across the desert. Even from so far away, it was easily taller than the mesas ever were, but it just kept coming closer, seemingly growing with every long, marching step.

I expected Benny and Omaru to go run for cover. But Obtuse Goose had other plans. He stood in the path of the tripod and told me he was rolling to attack it.

I smiled and told him to go for it. He fired a long, continuous beam right into the body of the creature. It's firey skin erupted, sending small spurts of flame flying, which fell to earth and formed new fire elementals as they came tumbling down. With every step the tripod came closer, every time it's long legs slammed into the ground, a gout of flame would shoot out and two or three new elementals came leaping out of the blast. The creature flared up and let out a long, bellowing roar that rumbled the whole desert. The laser wasn't working, so he decided to charge it and smash it with his rocket hammer.

Benny and the pilots shot at the elementals as Omaru charged. One of the legs came crashing down almost on top of them, a huge ball of fire erupting from it's footprint. Omaru jumped through the air as the rocket hammer ignited. The massive hammer head collided with it's leg. The pillar of flame erupted right in his face and the bottom half evaporated into incandescent light. The creature stumbled but found it's balance and roared once more.

It reared up it's other leg, reaching high above the clouds of radioactive dust. For a good minute or so it stood there, reading up to stomp them into the dirt. The fire elementals fled and after a long, tense moment, the creature brought it's leg crashing down like a distant meteor. It slammed into the dirt and a huge shockwave bloomed from the impact, sending everyone scattering. The hovership tumbled end over end, shredding into a pile of incoherent steel.

A vortex appeared in the body of the tripod as a low humming growl reverberated through the crystal. A bright yellow, then blinding white light appeared in the center of the vortex. It braced itself...then a single explosion erupted, then another. The players caught a glimpse of a single missile flying through the air and exploding against the tripod's giant crystal. A hovership arced across the sky and started blindly firing into the legs of the creature. It's engines roared as it struggled to climb high enough to face the body of the monster.

The vortex grew as it turned to face the ship. Suddenly, a thin beam of bright, white light fired out of the body of the creature. The ship dropped altitude, the beam just barely skirting the body of the craft as it tumbled into a frantic spin, sparks flying as the beam danced across it's surface. The ship jerked upward and sped off in the other direction. The creature followed, it's long legs striding a mile with every step. And with that, the desert went dark again.

The pilots were amazed (and dying of radiation poisoning). After everything they've seen they told Omaru there was only one person left who would know how to kill this thing. They were headed to where her ship touched down, but the monster melted one of their engines before they could make it. The other pilot nodded and said "if anyone's still got a plan, it's her" and showed him their map. In the ruins of Great Dig was the last person with any idea of what this thing was and maybe, just maybe, a weapon capable of destroying it.

Omaru marched north, with Benny and the pilots resting on his shoulders. They crossed the desert, hoverships and fighter planes high in the sky. Far in the distance the mushroom cloud could be seen blowing away on the wind. A steady rain of ash pelted them as they made their way northwest. The pilots assured him they were getting closer. On the infrared spectrum he could just barely make out a small, boxy shape half buried in the sand. A single small body was standing watch, staring right back at him. As they got closer he could just barely make out the markings on the ship. A hatch opened and a small gnoll woman, her midsection wrapped in a bloody rag hobbled out, balancing on a crutch. A small, beetle or crab-like creature stepped out after her, holding a wooden stick out, ready to attack the approaching robot. They had finally found their savior: Dr. Alamos and the missing Kretak miners, neither of which were happy to see him.

She tried to waddle back inside the badly battered Kretak ship. The aliens rallied around her and started shouting at him in their strange alien language. Benny and the pilots tried to reason with them and after a long argument, they settled down to listen to what he had to say.

See, Omaru had been travelling with Haydn's character Wilfred and in all that time they did nothing but murder the locals, burn down what little vegetation they had and did everything to make themselves look like the villains. And no one suffered as badly as Dr. Alamos or the Kretak (or the Bristlefurs for that matter). All she wanted to do was uncover the mystery behind the earthquakes and in return Wilfred murdered her colleagues and planted a bomb in her truck.


The Kretak didn't have it any better. They were still getting used to this whole magic fantasy world thing and were ready to worship Omaru as a god a few days ago. But Wilfred and the other player, Minamillion incited a holy war. Omaru could have helped but instead, he let them tear each other apart and now their leader was dead for their trouble. But with a single promise, he pacified everyone.

"If you help me," He said in his thick, robotically Russian accent, "I kill tiny lizard." Everyone was happy.

Dr. Alamos agreed to show him what she had been working on. She was planning to use it to neutralize the magma pocket. But that chance had come and gone, now, there was only one thing to do with it. She had the Kretak lift the tarp and unhook it from the ship. A single, long metal tube ending in a hertz horn detonator. Wires ran across it's length. In white paint, it's name was printed across the metal casing, "The Gadget".

"I didn't have much to work with," Dr. Alamos said. "But I was able to get some refined uranium and it has a plutonium kicker in the central fission mass. When that detonator goes off, the explosives in the back will launch the rest of the uranium into the mass, hopefully bringing it up to critical." She looked up at the robot. "I'm expecting a yield of 11 kilotons, maybe less. But we can't fly up high enough to drop it though."

Omaru looked out at the horizon. The tripod stood like a massive pillar of fire in the desert, growing closer and closer. "I try laser, it does not work." He said. "I try hammer, it does not work." He picked up the bomb and hefted it over his shoulder. "This? This will work."

Everyone else crammed themselves into the cramped little shuttle and closed the door behind them. Omaru ran off in the other direction with the bomb overhead. All the while the tripod came closer and closer. A horde of fire elementals followed close behind. The only light came from the massive army and the impossibly tall being that continued to spawn them. As they closed in, a vortex appeared in the body of the tripod and a beam of white light blasted the ashen landscape, searing the air with it's incredible heat. Omaru dodged and hefted the bomb high over his shoulders. He landed on top of an elemental, crushing it. Then, he hoisted the bomb like a javelin and with all the might his atomic reactor could muster, he launched the bomb through the air. Steam erupted from his joints. He watched as the bomb soared through the dust cloud. Higher and higher it went until it came crashing down right at the feet of the tripod. A bright light shone. His audio sensors screamed on every channel.

The bomb exploded, vaporizing the elementals in an instant. The tripod disappeared into the explosion. Omaru's Geiger counters went off the charts. Dr. Alamos's bomb worked, Pitchblende Flats had been nuked for the second time that day.

The journey through the desert was a long, dull one. Another mushroom cloud bloomed on the horizon. Omaru carried the remains of the shuttle on his shoulder. Benny and the pilots were celebrating, but Dr. Alamos was sitting on Omaru's other shoulder, questioning him about what happened. She was proud the bomb had worked (saying she never doubted it would) but something disturbed her. It was far fetched, but according to her calculations, the magma, nor the plutonium thought to have been under the desert was enough to make such a huge crater. That creature, had to have supplied plenty of it's own energy to make such a violent quake. Omaru asked her what it could have been, why hadn't he heard of it before?

She looked him in the eye and told him, "Tartora, the Primordial. No ones heard of it because it was last seen hundreds of years ago, when the first world war was fought. We always knew it was buried somewhere deep in Chmatra, but I never thought it would reawaken, here, now."

She told him the legend of the Primordials, Chmaku's first creations when the world was young. They were tasked with making the world full of life, but when Chmaku was split into the modern gods they lost their master. They saw the life they had created as meaningless without him there to be pleased. They rampaged across the world, destroying all they could to be replaced with new life. The gods had locked them away, banished them deep to the core of the world or into the heart of the sun. They reawoke, sometimes, some more than others, but it was always a portent of worse times ahead when a Primordial once again walked the world.

The survivors found one last hovership as it was touching down for landing. The last ride out, it was evacuating a camp. Fire elementals were closing in from all sides as they ushered the last few refugees into the cabin. There was a long, tense moment when Omaru bounded over the dunes as fast as he could. The hovership crew yelling and screaming for him to make it in time as elementals closed in on all sides. He lept over a sandbag barrier and tossed his armful of refugees into the cabin. The ship started to take off, it's massive engines roaring and kicking up huge plumes of dust. Omaru jumped and clung to the underside of the ship as it lifted off, elementals snarling and snapping at his shines as they flew away.

And as they flew off into the sunset they could see a shape forming far to the south west; a pillar of fire and the glow of a blue gem stone. Tartora wasn't going to be stopped with just one bomb. The pilot leaned back at told them the commander authorized 2000-0-0, they were officially done with this operation. The survivors sped off to greener pastures as missiles arched over the horizon. The last thing they saw was Tartora standing in the middle of the desert, watching as all of Tyrak's most powerful bombs came down to greet it. Shielding their eyes, everyone knew even this wouldn't be the last time they would see Tartora.

Monday, October 5, 2015


The very big thing Omaru's currently fighting in the desert.

Saturday, September 12, 2015


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Rock Lobster Part III

My game was in shambles.

Dead technocrats littered the camp. Johan failed to save a single father from electrocution.  Now the whole desert is teetering on the brink of disaster and the players are no closer to answers. Exploring the camp, they found the key to the technocrats plans: an enormous nuclear-powered robot, like a giant metal bowling ball on three squat hydraulic legs. A quick examination showed just how broken down it was. The whole thing needed a complete overhaul and it's reactor shielding was cracked right down the middle. It never came up in the game, but if the technocrats lived a little longer they would have explained that the first to repair the robot would have been appointed leader. Using it, they would have brought their new scientific order to the people of Trinity. So yes, they were villains. But the players still ended up looking worse thanks to their wanton destruction.

This was also going to tie into the lobster man's problem. Because the water the technocrats were hoarding wasn't just any old water, it was heavy water intended for the robot's nuclear reactor. But again, irrelevant.

As the players made their way further north there was a loud roar of engines flying overhead. A huge metal box soared past them and came to a graceful landing a few miles away. It had strange alien markings all over it's surface and was towing a huge metal cylinder under it's body. I told everyone to imagine something like to the shuttle from District 9. The players finally found it: the missing Kretak dropship.

Finally, they were back on track. They would meet up with the Kretak, get Urmon's enchanting supplies and finally get out of this desert. Even better, they could drop of the huge piece of scientific equipment they'd been lugging around since their visit to Tory 401. All they needed to do was not cause needless conflict.

The hike to the Kretak camp took several hours. It was late evening by the time they made it to the other edge of the Glowing Pond and found the wall made of gutted, rusted cars. A single Kretak guard was there to greet them and luckily for the players, it recognized Wilfred. It crawled down from it's perch and started leading them back to camp. It clattering wildly. Omaru's radio filled with static as the rest of the Kretak came out to see them. Several dozen of the alien creatures where there, safely hidden under layers of armor and environmental conditioning. Each one carrying a tank of the exotic gas mixture they breathed on their home planet.

The camp was cobbled together from old environmental pods, the remains of their mothership and whatever junk they had scavenged since being stranded on Chmatra. On the edge of camp was the Kretak dropship, still unloading it's cargo. Beside it was a large cylindrical object hidden under a tarp. The Kretak leader quickly ushered Wilfred over to it's workbench and operated a few dials on it's console. A display lit up and suddenly a huge holographic image formed before the players.

A map of Pitchblende Flats appeared, with arrows indicating every major mining operation for miles around. In the center was God's Candle, the radium mountain. God's Candle was the richest source of radioactive ore in the entire world, but also the most inhospitable. The mountain was composed entirely of radium and it's decay products, spewing radioactive gas in a huge cloud around it. Every night, the mountain could be seen from all over the desert, glowing a faint green.

The hologram spun around, showing the land deep beneath the surface. The radium deposit under God's Candle came into view as a bluish-green blotch. All around it were deposits of uranite, coffinite, zeunerite and all manner of other radioactive ores. Another spot appeared far below the virtual surface. Colored purple, it flashed several times and the Kretak leader pointed to it. A huge red wave, signifying hot magma started to pulse upward, compressing the purple ore. It heated as the pressure squeezed it from all sides. Alien numbers and symbols danced across the display as the purple spot continued to compress. Then, without warning, it exploded, bombarding the uranite above it, which then exploded itself.

The whole simulated desert started to tear itself apart as more and more of the uranium started to undergo fission. After mere seconds, all that was left was a smouldering crater in the virtual sand. The Kretak turned to face the players, to see if they understood.

There was a local legend shared among prospectors. It was believed that uranium wasn't the only fission fuel dragged to the surface by the earthquakes. Somewhere out in the desert, far past the high-radiation zone of God's Candle there was a huge deposit of pure weapons-grade plutonium. It's said that the plutonium is so rich in that deposit that it can be placed in a bomb without any other refining and still explode with the force of several megatons of TNT. Mining such a deposit would make a prospector rich beyond their wildest dreams. And now, the Kretak were trying to tell the players that the plutonium exists, they found it and more, the volcano under the surface was going to make it explode with enough force to wipe the desert off the face of Chmatra.

A second simulation appeared, only this time, the scene zoomed in to show a drill digging deep behind the high-radiation zone, straight down into the plutonium deposit itself. A virtual miniature of the Kretak dropship appeared above the bore hole and the scene zoomed in again. A long cylindrical shape fell out of the ship and froze above the lip of the hole. The cylinder exploded open to reveal it's inner workings, revealing a small bomb and two subcritical masses at either end of the assembly.

The scene zoomed out and the bomb fell down the bore hole. It reached the plutonium and there was another explosion, only this time the deposit cracked apart. Pieces of it still went critical, some even formed a chain reaction with other rocks nearby. But most of it survived intact. All that was felt on the surface was a dull thud, like another short earthquake had struck. The Kretak turned the hologram off and turned to face the players.

Suddenly, Nick had an idea. The Kretak could only explain so much through pictures, but his character had just gained the ability to create minor reality last session. He asked if his character could use his ability to alter reality to rewire his own brain in order to speak fluent Kretak. I told him yes, absolutely. But be careful, because if it doesn't work he'll end up with brain damage or just die right there in front of everyone. We all agreed it was worth the risk and he rolled.

He got a 5 (on a d6). And right before everyone's very eyes, Minamillian started speaking fluent Kretak Interworld. Immedat

"It is because I am God." He said.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Rock Lobster Part II

Last session, Wilfred and his gang of bandits met the wizard Urmon and his staff. After a brief misunderstanding with his apprentice, he promised them that if they retrieved his spell book and magic dust and what have you, he would enchant their weapons and make them several orders of magnitude more deadly than they already were. The players agreed and made their way north, into the marshes surrounding the Glowing Pond, the second-most radioactive destination in all of Pitchblende Flats.

This was around the time Obtuse Goose invited his friend to play. I wanted him to have fun so I tried to ease him into the setting and explain the world of Chmatra.  But the more I tried to rationalize the talking cow people and robots the more I realized that I didn't even really know what was happening at this point. Any semblance of a goal had vanished long ago. After the pie lady died it was really just a matter of everyone following Haydn's character, Wilfred around the desert, looking for more people to kill. But none of it mattered anyway, because by the time I was done explaining the details of naturally occurring fission reactions I realized he didn't really care anyway. He was just along for the ride.

And that was just fine with me, since I figured it probably meant he'd stay out of trouble. With that, they were off. Travel through the bogs was long and arduous as they struggled against the mud and tried to weave a safe path through the zones of intense radiation. A sickly green light filled the air. Balls of luminous swamp gas floated eerily through the fog. As they reached the waters edge the mud started to bubble around them and before they knew it, a arm reached out of the muck and grabbed their mechanic, Travis. A mud monster pulled itself out of the underbrush and started trying to eat the hapless elf where he stood. Everyone else rolled for initiative. Wilfred fired into the monster. And since he's extremely overpowered he got a whole handful of rolls and dozens of bullets to use. He squeezed the trigger, neatly severing the mud man's arm in a hail of gunfire. The rest of the bullets plunged deep into the body of the monster, doing nothing.

The bog beast started flailing Travis around as more creatures started to form out of the murk. Nick's character, Minamillion killed one with a fireball. I asked Twitch what his temporary character Mikial would be doing. He snorted over the microphone and flatly refused to do anything. "He's an elf right? Forget that, he's on his own." I couldn't really do anything about that. It was out of character for Mikial, sure. But then again it's nice to see elves get whats coming to them.

More swamp monsters appeared. Wilfred kept shooting, Minamillion kept launching fireballs. Omaru did nothing. Suddenly there was a stream of gunfire from the lake and what looked like miniature rockets started cutting through the mud men. As the creatures scattered a large shape appeared from the water and waved at the party with a huge barnacle-encrusted claw. A pair of yellow eyes appeared out of the fog. A huge lobsterman came striding out of the lake, carrying a hi-tech assault rifle in one of his claws.

He greeted the players and jokingly asked what they were thinking wandering into a radioactive, monster-infested swamp. They didn't have an answer for him. Instead, everyone decided to immediately start lying to the guy who saved them. Since Wilfred and Devereaux were both journalists, they tried to convince the lobsterman that he'd been picked as a contestant on a new reality game show. He would be competing against several other eligible bachelors for Devereaux's hand in marriage. He was instantly seduced.

Lovestruck by the elf woman wandering into his swamp, he led them up the shore while telling the party what a great candidate he was. He had been living in the swamp for a few years by that point. He and his previous wife moved out there when he got a job at the local dam. Back then, a huge river went through the desert and the swamp was a fertile delta. But after a series of intense earthquakes the river was rerouted and the marshes started to dry up. "All that's left" He said. "Are the stagnant pools here. When the earthquakes shook us it cracked the dam right down the middle and threw up the radioactive dust clouds. That's what killed me first wife, bless her soul."

Devereaux kept feeding him lines about what a strong, crunchy lobsterman he was. But Wilfred wasn't listening. He was just eyeing his rifle the whole time. I made a point of describing the gun as very unusual looking, like an FG 42 made of advanced polymer plastic, something it shouldn't be possible to build on Chmatra.

And it wasn't actually; it never came up in the game itself but the gun was actually a IPTA assault rifle designed for astronauts. Chmatra drifts across the multiverse, with wormhole storms opening in the upper atmosphere all the time. Junk from all over the multiverse comes raining down on the planet all the time. Sometimes it's Beanie Babies, which local shamans hoard as powerful totem animals. Sometimes it's alien home appliances, advanced pieces of technology they assume are powerful weapons and death rays but end up being something like a pasta strainer. In the case of the lobsterguy, it was an InterPlanetary Trade Administration gyrojet rifle, firing 13mm rocket propelled bullets. The gun was from the moon Titan in the year 2137 AD (and incidentally, from my science fiction setting which remains mostly unrelated to this game). Again, the players never knew any of this.

Meanwhile, the lobsterman was telling the players his life story. Before his wife died she laid a clutch of eggs they kept hidden in the least polluted part of the lake. Since then, a new group of people moved into the dam and started stockpiling all the fresh water for themselves. "If I don't get clean water soon I don't know if the kids'll make it." he said.

Lobsterdad lead them to the ruins of the old dam. "There," He said. "I don't know what their deal is, but they've been hogging all the junk, all the good water and everything for themselves. They won't even let me back up there and I practically ran the place. No respect for honest working people, I tell you..." So, the players snuck up the wall and peaked inside neighbor's camp.

A bull man was giving a speech on a cobbled together stage, extolling the virtues of society based on the scientific method. His peers, a cow woman, gnoll and a dwarf were sitting around him. Each one of them were bristling with cybernetic augmentations; robotic limbs, electronic eyes, metal plates grafted haphazardly onto flesh and bone. The players weren't impressed though and happily barged in on the rally. Immediately, they tried to convince the cyborgs that they were filming a documentary and wanted an exclusive interview with them. Otom Blackrock, the one speaking was all too happy to start lecturing them on the obsolescence of elected leaders, how a new ruling class of apolitical engineers would take control and that soon, a new order of scientism will reorganize society along new, logical, scientifically formulated strata. Again, the players weren't interested.

"Hey," Twitch said. "What if we just killed these guys?" Haydn was hesitant at first but then Nick joined in. Chanel still wasn't paying attention. Before long, most everyone was okay with killing the Technocrats and Haydn was forced to relent. Suddenly, Obtuse Goose butted in.

"Hang on," He said. "I know you, you're trying to start something."  Before then, Wilfred had been the driving force of evil in the party and only Omaru had done anything to stop him. Sure, he helped burn down the thorn thicket and sure, he never looked into the mysterious disappearance of all his babes. But whatever was going on he wasn't going to let Wilfred get away with it. I let him roll to fire a low power laser blast to stun Wilfred in his tracks. He got a six, and the tiny lizard fell to the ground, unconscious.

With the unexpected voice of reason silenced, Minamillian and Mikial launched fireballs at the cyborgs. Their electronics started to melt. Their servos ground helplessly as they tried to flee, their screams were distorted through their melting vocoders, muffled by the sounds of burning flesh, and sputtering vacuum tubes. Omaru did nothing.

The lobster man started to panic, pleading with the wizards to stop.

"Why not kill him." Nick said. Lightning flashed, and the lobster fell to the floor, sputtering and seizing. As the game master, I couldn't really forbid my players from taking certain actions, but I could definitely hint that they were taking a few steps down the slippery slope:

"Alright, you roll a five and mercilessly fry the single father as he pleads with you to stop killing people."

He was still squirming as the players were getting ready to finish him off. Wilfred was still unconscious. Chanel wasn't paying attention. I realized it was up to me. Me, and the little gnoll sitting in Devereaux's backpack. Suddenly, Johan leapt out and stood defiantly between the wizards and the dying lobster. He threw his little arms up to stop them and putting as much power into his meek voice as he could, he gave them an ultimatum.

"If you kill him, you have to kill me too!" He cried out. It was up to him now. If I had to sacrifice my favorite character to make them see reason, so be it. Live or die, Johan wasn't going to let this go any further. The smouldering remains of technocrats continued to convulse around him. The last survivor fled into the junkyard. Meanwhile the lobster was coughing up ichor, shuddering as sparks danced across his carapace. Omaru did nothing.

But Chanel heard Johan's name. I knew she was protective of him. I could count on her to change her mind about this senseless slaughter, even if it was just to protect him. She put herself between the lobster and the other players, scooped the little gnoll up...and went to the back of the group.

"Okay, now do whatever you were doing." She said.

Another pair of lightning bolts flashed and the lobster man slumped over, smoking from the joints in his shell. Omaru did nothing.

Wilfred started to wake up just as their guide stopped twitching. He took a look at the scene around him and without a word, stood up and started walking away.

And I knew in that moment, that the gods had abandoned these adventurers. Whatever noble quest they may have had was at an end. Whatever goodness was in them had vanished. All that was left was to take this as far as it could possibly go.

And I told myself, never ever let someone take control of an NPC again.