Numenera

Fear the Ocean – Part 2

From outside, a heavy bell began to toll. Hols jumped to his feet.

 

“That is the alarm. Something is coming”

They crowded to the door of the longhouse and looked out. The village was in chaos, screams and shouts interspersed with guttural sounds filled the air. Groups of villagers were being dragged off into the ocean by fat-bellied sea creatures; the guards were being dragged out of the towers. A group of the creatures headed towards the PC’s, they had clawed, greasy fingers, smacking lips, chattering, pointed teeth and tiny, beady eyes. Harrylock readied and shot his left-arm mounted crossbow; killing the lead creature instantly; Sonny pulled and fired his buzzer at another. The creatures charged forwards and belched out a cloud of noxious gas whilst scything with their claws. Judson took a raking wound across the chest and the creature belched out another cloud of gas into his face; again he managed to hold his breath. Sonny wasn’t quite so lucky; using the verred that Judson had lent him, he plunged it deep into a creatures guts; the creature burst like a balloon and Sonny got the full effect of the foul gas; he doubled over, vomiting and gasping for breath. Two creatures attacked Galadiir; he was clawed but again managed to avoid breathing in the foul breath. He cast an Ice Onslaught and took down another creature and then formed his Sheen of Ice armour over himself and Judson.  Another creature fell to Harrylock’s forearm blade and the last went down to a combined attack from Judson and Galadiir.* Finally it was all over; the creatures were all dead and the characters took some time to catch their breath.

Hols said “You see what we have to face, each night of the Haunting Tides. This is why we need your help”

Judson experimented with cooking one of the creatures; it smelt disgusting and tasted of burnt squid. He didn’t eat very much as his stomach churned and he was violently sick.

“So, they are still poisonous even when dead”, commented Sonny**

At this point there was a commotion near to the gate and in walked the woman in white.

“I had the strangest dream,” she said in a sleepy voice. “I dreamt I fell for an eternity, and then I hit a lake of fire where I was torn apart by some powerful force. Then I was put back together again, and the next thing I know I am pulling myself up on the rocks outside the village, awake and wet.” Harrylock contrived to brush by her and decided that she was not a ghost. Hols was confident that the rest of the villagers and guards would be back by morning.

The following morning, as predicted, the missing villagers and guards were lying sprawled on the docks; half-asleep and soaking wet. None of them could remember anything. Judson was chosen to carry the signet ring found on Rando’s body back to Orrando in Mulen, whilst the others investigated the reef/island*** Hols introduced them to Soren, who owned the boat they were going to use.

“What is the name of your boat?” “It is called Soren’s Boat. I am Soren and it is my boat.”

“We are going to rename it “Queen Anne’s Revenge”.

“Why? Then no-one will know that it is my boat”

Soren rowed them out to the island; it was early morning; the sea was calm and a mist lay heavy upon the water. The island looked like an upturned hand made of rock, the fingers pointing upwards. The fingers were blurred; as they drew closer Galadiir realised that they were blurred because they were slightly out of phase. In the centre of the island, in the ‘palm’, was a small domed stone hut. Growing over it was a blue-green moss that Galadiir recognised as growing around dimensional rifts. They persuaded Soren to go into the hut first; then followed him in. There was a table, a chair, a fireplace and a bed. At the table was a skeleton, wearing the robes of a Aeon Priest; in front of him was a book made of some kind of synth. Galadiir pushed the skeleton to one side to get at the book; it collapsed to the floor and something fell out of the robes with a ‘clink’. Sonny picked it up; it was a cypher called a Reality Spike. He was already carrying two cyphers and the air around him began buzzing like a million wasps. He dropped the Spike and moved away. Galadiir gave Soren a Stim cypher; then picked up the Reality Spike. He then turned back to the diary. The priest was called Fankre and it was his diary. The first date is over a hundred years ago, and it lasts for 15 years. It begins when he arrives at the island. He is very eager, since the study of things out of phase with reality is his main interest. The island was renowned for its effects on reality. At first the priest was fascinated by the various animals and plants on the island, most of which partly existed in adjacent phases to our own. There were some monsters too, but he had learned to stay away from them. His hope was to discover why so many such creatures were attracted to the place. After a few years he states that the island had become plagued by monsters. He later discovers that there is a machine under the island which sometimes activates. The machine creatures monster in a different reality, and then activates an event in which all the out-off-phase things become hard reality, before phasing them out again (this part was quite badly written). He discovers that when this event happens, it is possible to access the machine through a cave in the cliffs, and he even manages to shut the machine off. A few years later his research is done, but he is afraid to leave, in case the machine starts again. As far as you can tell, he dies of old age, since he is noting his deteriorating health, and then the diary just stops.

There was nothing else in the hut, so they headed towards the ‘spires’, realising that they probably ‘phased in’ at nightfall. Soren stayed to look after his boat.

Meanwhile, Judson was jogging northwards towards Mulen. He had made good time when suddenly his head filled with buzzing, seething white noise. He stopped, clutching his head as the pain increased. From the shadows three cloaked and hooded figures; humanoid yet not human, with huge black eyes perched above a sharp, dirty yellow beak – Murden! The leader pointed a hooked finger at the signet ring; the intent was clear. Desperately fighting the pain in his head; Judson ran off to the north; using his running skill he was able to outdistance the Murden; from behind came a shriek of anger.

On the island; night had fallen and the spires slowly shifted into phase as the rest of the island phased out. A rectangular doorway became apparent in the base of the middle spire; as they watched a horde of the sea creatures poured out towards them …

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GM Notes

* I love this Game! This combat was the first real use of GM Intrusions; basically each time the PC’s attacked a creature and missed I had the creature belch a cloud of gas, which meant the PC had to do a Might save or be nauseated (and take Speed damage). They started to build up a stock of XP; then went through a phase of bad die rolls and spent most of them on re-rolls (true comrades; they did spend XP on others re-rolls as well as their own.)

** Why wouldn’t they be?

*** Yet again, they have split the party up

Numenera GM Notes

GM Notes 1

As Ben has the ‘Howls at the Moon’ Focus (this means he changes into a raging uncontrollable beast around the full moon), I had to set up a calendar. The Numenera World Guidebook suggests a calendar which is somewhat different (year has 313 days, moon has a 28 day orbit, day has 28 hours etc.) as the Earth has obviously been changed and reformed and the Sun has been tinkered with (it’s still yellow and should be a red supergiant by now.) This means that the calendar is different each year as 313 does not divide by 28. The Guide also suggests that you just use a normal calendar, but this is boring.

I wanted things to be easy so I could make a calendar and print it off when needed each year. My year has 360 days, 10 months of 36 days. Each month has 6 weeks of 6 days each and each day is 28 hours long. The moon has a 24 day orbit; meaning that the full and new moon occur in an alternating pattern on the 6th, 18th and 30th of each month. The last day of the year is still Safe Haven (from the Guide; a day where all transgressions are forgiven and all debts cancelled, usually in return for a piece of Numenera.). I named the months Pretor/Tor/Ator/Prevaen/Vaen/Avaen/Premon/Mon/Amon/Fre

The whole thing fits neatly onto a piece of landscape A4 and allows me to warn Ben when his transformation might happen (he owns an artefact that warns him). I can also put in some random events for the future, using d10 and d6 to pick a month and day.

Next: To work on the seasons.

Numenera

 Fear The Ocean – Part One

                This adventure is based on the adventure of the same name run on BGG in 2014 by Karl Larsson and used with his permission (thanks Karl!)

Judson, Galadiir and Sonny were sitting on Harrylock (who they had mistaken for a park bench) in the Tralia Gardens in Mulen, capital of the kingdom of Iscobal, when they were approached by a scribe wearing the livery of Orrando the merchant. Orrando needed to hire some people to do a job for him

Orrando mainly deals in icewater candles; made of solid ice of various colours, they burn with a steady flame of the same colour as the candle. Galadiir inspected several of the stock but did not buy any.

Orrando quickly got down to business; his son Rando was travelling with a caravan of four glidors and ten men from Rachar. They were carrying a valuable cargo of phased candles intended for Queen Thera’s Midnight Party. The caravan is overdue and he wants then to go south along the coast road and look for it. He offers 10 Shins each.

It was Wane (late afternoon) the following day when they came upon the smashed remains of the caravan. Two glidors; their mysterious levitation mechanism destroyed, lay on the ground. Around then were the slashed and torn bodies of the caravan crew, lying amidst the destroyed cargo of candles.

“Looks like the motive wasn’t robbery”, said Galadiir.

Harrylock scouted around for tracks and found many deep cross-crossing grooves cut into the ground. He looked at one of the bodies; it wore the signet ring of Orrando. “Looks like Rando didn’t make it”.

Judson and Sonny looked over the cliff edge; smashed on the rocks they saw two other glidors and the Aneen that had pulled them.

“Something spooked the aneen and they ran right off the cliff! But what?”

At that point, rising and falling off to the northeast, they heard thin piercing howls, steadily coming closer. Judson quickly climbed a tree and looked, but saw nothing. The howling was almost upon them when he saw a flicker of movement; at first a thin vertical line but as it twisted he saw the full horror; a snarling, howling fanged head with a sinuous snake-like body behind. Again it moved; seen head on it looked like a thin line. Being experienced in the outdoors, he knew what the creatures were.

“Vapes!” he yelled, “three of them I think. Watch their bodies; they are sharper than a scalpel.” With this, he loosed an arrow through the nearest one

Galadiir gestured with his hand and a flurry of ice shards engulfed the nearest vape. Sonny drew his verred and struck at the one nearest to him; the creature twisted as he struck and the molecule-thick spine sheared straight through the verred’s twin blades. Harrylock made to punch the one attacking him*, changed his mind and activated his wrist blade; doing a serious injury to the vape. The vape struck at Harrylock, his “I’m ok, I’ve got armour” turned to horror when the vape’s body, several magnitudes sharper than a scalpel; sheared straight through and inflicted a deep wound. Galadiir also took a slashing wound; Sonny dived out of the way at the last minute.

Judson saw that Sonny was weaponless and put an arrow into the vape; a full-on shot that killed it. Harrylock got in another massive blow; doing extra damage that killed the second vape and moved to help Galadiir. Galadiir cast a massive Ice Shards , severely wounding the last vape; Harrylock finished it off.

They spent some time resting and healing; Judson did a backflip out of the tree and joined them. He looked at the vapes; the bodies were slowly sinking into the ground.

Night was falling; in the distance to the south, they saw the dim lights and smoke of a village. They headed to the village; intending to return to Mulen the following day. Just then, on the cliff path walking towards them, they saw a woman dressed in a white shift. She was walking slowly, then turned and headed for the cliff edge. Judson used his Running skill to try and get to her but he was too late; without pausing she stepped off the cliff. He looked over; the cliff was a forty – foot sheer drop to the crashing surf. There was no sign of a body.

“I bet she’s a mermaid”, said Sonny. The others just looked at him.

“What’s a mermaid?”

“I think something drew her here and made her jump”, said Galadiir. He used all his abilities to sense for anything unusual; but found nothing. Harrylock marked the spot with a boulder her pulled out of the ground.

The village was a typical; if somewhat old-fashioned, fishing village. Several longhouses surrounded a central longhouse; there was the flickering light of torches and smoke rising from several chimneys. A wooded palisade surrounded the village on the land side; two guard towers looked out to sea. The guard on the gate did not take much persuasion to let them in to speak to the village Elder. When asked, he did not remember a woman in white passing out of the gate.

In the community longhouse they were met by a big, imposing man with dark hair and a beard. He was very charismatic and they got the impression that he was the village leader because the villagers wanted him to be.

“I am Hols, Elder of the village of Galadir”**

The party were welcome to stay the night in the community longhouse. It was then that they mentioned the woman in white. The leader went pale and sat down. When he spoke, his voice was heavy.

“So it has begun then, the Haunting Tides, it has been two year since the last time; it makes sense. We do not know why, but every couple of years the ocean decides it is time to take something back from us. Thus begins a week of phantasms and horrors. We are invaded by nightmares from the sea, and some of us are even drawn into the sea. It always begins with someone throwing themselves off the cliff”.

He stood and crossed to the door, looked out for a moment, then closed it again.

“At the end, most villagers return alive. But there is always one or two who never come back.”

“Why do you still live here? Why don’t you go somewhere else?”

“We are a fishing community and this is our home. Where would you have us go? Will you help us?”

From outside, a heavy bell began to toll. Hols jumped to his feet.

“That is the alarm. Something is coming”

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GM’s Notes

Our first Game and it was an absolute blast! Numenera is so easy to run it is beyond belief. As an example, this is Hol’s stat block from my notes.

HOLS. Heavy build, black hair, full beard

Village Elder / Level 2 / Level 3 vs. lies and trickery // Strong personality, born leader

This means that to attack him the target number is 6+, to defend against him the target number is 6+, if he hits you he does 2 damage, but to successfully lie to him the target number is 9+. He has 6 hit points

All dice are rolled by the players. The GM rolls nothing. This feels a little weird at first.

* The others persuaded him that punching a living razor blade would not be a good idea.

** Galadiir looked puzzled at this – why was he named after a village?

Numenera

Pre-Game

The players created their characters. Matt has been following a podcast of a Numenera Game and so was very keen to play.

I’m not going to describe the setting in great detail – it’s already been reviewed in lots of places. This is the overview I gave to the players.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”

In this game you are on Earth in a very distant future, in the Ninth World. You are living in this age, using the technologies of the previous ages. Most of the people look at these technologies as if they are magical.

The world itself is strange and wonderful; the Game is about discovering these wonders. Look to the horizon – is that a mountain or part of an impossible monument to the forgotten emperor of a lost people? Feel that subtle vibration beneath your feet and know that ancient engines – vast machines the size of kingdoms – still operate in the bowels of the earth.

The people of the Ninth World mostly humans, although not all that call themselves human truly are. There are likewise abhumans: mutants, crossbreeds, genetically engineered, and their offspring. And then there are the visitants, who are not native to the earth but who now call the Ninth World home, and who have no more understanding of the past (even their own) than anyone else.

Forests of crystal shards, cities supported on beams of power, brave Glaives, the various types of Numenera, knowledgeable Aeon Priests, strange flora and fauna, dangerous Nanos, mysterious ruins pulsating with hidden energies, cunning Jacks, terraforming and stellar engineering on a gargantuan scale and thousands of other things make the Ninth World and exciting and dangerous place.

(To give some perspective, the Ninth Age is around 1 billion years in the future. This is enough time for the solar system to have orbited FOUR times round the galaxy!)

The characters are: –

Sonny Silver, a Clever Jack Who Rides The Lightning, played by Joe

– A Jack of All Trades with an innate power to cast lightning bolts

Sir Harrylock, a Strong Glaive Who Fuses Flesh With Steel, played by Harry

– A walking biomechanical tank

Galadiir the Crystal, a Mystical Nano Who Wears a Sheen of Ice, played by Matt

– A strange nano with ice powers; hates the Aeon Priests

Judson Deathdancer, a Rugged Glaive who Howls At The Moon, played by Ben

– Each month he transforms into a raging uncontrollable bear monster

Character generation is fun, interactive and relatively quick. A lot of leads and background information was decided on, with many leads left open to build upon.