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.

1 comment:

dissertation services said...

I hope you don't mind but i would like to suggest that you change the colour theme of your blog. Its really hard for me to read and may be for others with such a dark background. Bring in more Light !!! :D

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