The Hidden Price – Part 2

                 The following morning they awoke to a major uproar in the tavern. A woman had been killed in the room next to Harrylock’s. They went to investigate; she was lying on the floor beside a dresser with a large mirror. Her throat had been torn out and she was covered in bite marks. There was blood everywhere. Sonny used his (flexi) Medical Skill to determine that whatever had caused the bites was big. There was no sign of entry or exit and no tracks on the floor. She had few belongings, only an explorer’s pack and some travel clothes. A quick check at the front desk showed she had signed in with the name “Elly”. They left the matter in the hands of the Peacekeepers and headed off to Dracogen’s manse.

 

“You are late”, came the voice from the air. “If you work for me, I expect punctuality. Help yourself to food, and then we shall talk.” There was a single door off the side corridor with a table laid out with food and drink. Everyone partook, except Harrylock, who still did not trust Dracogen.

 

“You did well at the floating island, so I have another job for you. A piece of low-life scum called Millian has stolen an item from me. I want you to retrieve it. It is called a Revitalizer.”

 

“What does it do?” “It revitalizes, that is all. Millian is somewhere in the city, it is up to you to find him.”

 

“Do you want him dead or alive?”

 

“I want the Revitalizer.”

 

Back at the ‘Queens Legs’ they discussed tactics. They started by asking around about Millian; he turned out to be a well-known petty thief and snitch.

 

“He lives in the Challimone Building, out near the city edge.”

 

“You know, you’re the second person asking about Millian today. Some woman called Ehvera is looking for him.”

 

A few more questions established that Ehvera was connected with the criminal underworld and was a gang boss. She was new here, some say she came from one of the islands. She could be contacted by leaving a message at a tenement block down by the docks.

 

They decided on a plan – Judson and Sonny would go and talk to Ehvera; whilst Galadiir and Harrylock would check out Millian at the Challimone Building *

 

The dockside building was a five-storey building straddling a dock. The building was run-down; they entered into a hallway leading to stairs up to the upper floors and down to the quay. The hall was filled with dropouts, scum, layabouts and junkies. The air was heavy with the smell of Bentlam. As Judson and Sonny entered, two men struggled to their feet.

 

“You’re not wanted here. Get.”

 

“We just want to talk to Ehvera”

 

“You deaf? Which bit didn’t you hear? Get out.”

 

Sonny decided to barge his way through to the stairs and moved forward, pushing the man out of the way. The hall erupted; they all stood, pulling out an assortment of weapons. Sonny reacted quickly, pulling his verred and plunging it deep into the man blocking his way; he crumpled to the floor, mortally wounded.

 

“There’s no need for this”, called Judson. “Life is too short, look how short his was. We just want to talk to Ehvera.”

 

“And you’ve found her”. The speaker was a heavily-built woman, wearing black leather armour and carrying a verred. She descended the stairs and looked at Judson. “Let’s talk”.

 

(GM: I’m not going into detail here as I don’t want to reveal spoilers)**

 

Arriving at the Challimone Building, they found that Millian lived on the 5th (top) floor. There was no elevator so Galadiir persuaded Harrylock to carry him up the stairs. *** On reaching the 5th floor they knocked at the door. There was no answer so Harrylock broke the door down. Immediately a ‘beeping’ noise was heard; in the middle of the room was a round metal sphere with a blinking red light. As they watched, the light blinked faster and the sound became faster.

 

“Down the stairs!” yelled Galadiir; they barely made it as the entire top floor exploded in a huge fireball. The blast carried down and the 4th floor was also on fire. From one of the rooms they heard cries for help. Harrylock kicked the door in; they saw a young woman and a badly injured man. Harrylock picked up the man and Galadiir used an Ice Onslaught to try and hold back the flames. They ran down to the ground, but it was too late; the man was dead. The woman was very upset and clung on to Galadiir.

 

“Can I come with you? We were new in town and now I’ve got no-one to protect me. Please? My name is Leema.” Galadiir was not happy with this, but found himself succumbing to her (she was young, frightened and VERY attractive).

 

Back at the ‘Queens Legs’, they had a council of war. Leema was not included but stayed as close to Galadiir as she could. After much discussion, they voted on a choice of action (again; I’m giving no spoilers – sorry).

 

Whilst this was going on, Judson noticed some activity at the bar; a man was securing the services of one of the resident whores. They headed off upstairs; then suddenly all the lights went out. After a few minutes they came on again and from upstairs came screaming. The man was on the floor, his throat torn out and huge bite marks on his body. The whore was sobbing that she didn’t do it and that she heard or saw nothing. Suddenly her eyes widened and she broke free and ran off. Leema joined Galadiir and they all retired for the night,

 

Galadiir: “Where’s Leema sleeping?”

 

GM: “With you. She is VERY grateful that you saved her life today.”

 

In the middle of the night, Judson awoke and sat bolt upright. His timer was beeping and showed three red bars. Within him the Beast stirred and swelled, bursting out of his body, On the other side of the room was Sonny, asleep on the bed. Beast-Judson flexed his claws; opened his maw and lumbered across the room … ****

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GM Notes

* Yet again, they have split the party up!

** Let’s just say, they were on the horns of a dilemma.

*** According to Galadiir, he is not very strong and the climb would tire him out.

**** I had pre-determined this would happen, but from now on I’m going to use a real calendar and look at when the full moon is. If it’s around the Games night then there is a chance that Judson will transform. Easy to do and adds a little randomness to things.

The Hidden Price

Part 1

 

 

                This was run, with a few modifications, pretty much straight from the Core Rules. I’ll avoid revealing any major spoilers.

 

In Mulen, the adventurers gathered round the table in “The Queens Legs” and pondered over the map that Judson had got off Orrando. The target was an island, 50 miles off the coast and 3000’ feet up in the air. Some enquiries revealed that the city of Qi, capital of Draolis, used all manner of dirigibles and aerospheres. However, it was said that the machines would not function outside of the city due to the range of the beamed power towers. It appeared that many people in Mulen knew about the island, but no-one had actually visited it. It was one evening, when they had all but decided to give up, that the name Dracogen was mentioned.

 

“You want to get to the floating island? Dracogen’s your man. He’ll see you right, for a price”

 

“What’s his price?”

 

“Dracogen? Oh yes, he’ll help. But be warned, his price may be more than you’re willing to pay”

 

“What’s his price?”

 

The following day saw them heading for the outskirts of the city, where a curious coiled and twisted building rose above the surroundings. The top of the tower flared into a flattened bulb. As they approached, a door in the base slid silently open. Inside was a circular chamber, lit in purple and green from a dome in the centre of the ceiling. Seven smaller domes surrounded it and there were seven shallow niches in the curved walls. All of them pulsed in purple and green in a long, slow rhythmic pattern. In the centre of the chamber was a low circular table, flanked by two semi-circular sofas. After they entered, the outer door slid shut.

 

“Welcome”, said a soft voice from out of the air. “Please be seated”. From a passage in the wall opposite to the entrance entered a male human. He had dark hair and a short beard. His left eye was a construct of synth and crystal. He wore a trim tunic of grey cloth and a silver metal sphere hovered over his left shoulder. “How may I help?”*

 

The adventurers explained their dilemma and Dracogen considered. “I may have a solution, but it will take two or three days. Are you prepared to pay the price?”

 

“Here it comes”, thought Galadiir. “What is the price?”

 

“Any Numenera you find on the island, you will bring back here. You will place it all on the table and then you will spend the night here in the guest rooms. The following morning, you can collect your items and leave.”

 

They stared at each other suspiciously and then at Dracogen. “That’s it? What’s the catch?”

 

“There is no catch. That is the price. Do you accept?”

 

That evening, in “The Queen’s Legs”, they discussed this at length. ** They decided to do a little more asking around; Sonny used his Skill Flex to pick up some street gossip.

 

“Dracogen? He’s a sound guy; always keeps his word and delivers the goods.”

 

“He’s done good for himself. Don’t cross him though. You ever heard of Bajoz’s Boys? Well, you won’t hear of them again and they’ve never been found.”

 

Two days later, a small ball rolled into the tavern and bounced up onto the table. A small grille opened in it.

 

“You are wanted by Dracogen at the manse immediately. He has what you want”. The ball burst with a small ‘pop’ and smell of burnt cinnamon.

 

Inside the manse, on the table, lay four small packs with harnesses attached. On the buckle of each pack were four white crystals.

 

The voice spoke. “These cyphers will allow you to fly. Each has four hours of power; this is enough time for you to fly to and from the island and do some exploring. Remember the price”. The voice stopped and the outer door opened again.

 

Harrylock put on the pack; the crystals glowed and a small pair of wings sprouted from the pack. He ran his fingers over the studs and sliders set into the harness and shot up into the air; quickly followed by Sonny. Judson and Galadiir were not so adept; they collided on take-off and, hopelessly tangled together; careened off the top of a nearby building and spun into the air.

 

About an hour later they spied the island ahead through the drifting clouds. It was a rectangular slab of blue synth, with a large conical structure in the centre of the upper deck. The deck was slippery and wet but they all managed to land safely. Harrylock investigated the cone whilst Judson looked for any access through the deck. ***

Finally Harrylock and Galadiir managed to get the hatchway in the cone open and they entered. The inside was full of crystal and glass shapes, cones, rods, planes and blocks. At one point Sonny was dazzled by an intense flash of light and he stumbled; causing part of the structure to collapse onto the others; who took some damage.

 

Searching the chamber was not easy due to the razor shards of crystal and glass. They found some cyphers (a blue crystal pendant, a clear glass bauble and a synth rod tipped with a pointed gemstone), plus an odd curved piece of glass that spun round when there was any sound near to it. Harrylock took the spinning glass; there was a brief burst of intense light when he did so that dazzled him and Galadiir. Galadiir, meanwhile, was examining a glass tile with a micro-fine tracery of wires embedded in it. He couldn’t work out what it was, so Harrylock smashed it.

 

“Wait! Isn’t this island flying? That’s probably what was keeping us up.” The hastily made to leave; at this point they were all dazzled by an intense burst of actinic light.

 

They returned to Mulen safely; shortly after they landed the last crystal on the buckles faded. **** The door to the manse was open and they piled the Numenera onto the table. The other passage led to a dead end with four doors off; each led to a luxurious bedchamber with a table set with fine food and wine. Harrylock refused to eat anything; the others dived in. Judson saw to his horror that the Beast Timer was on two bars.

 

In the morning, after breakfast (not for Harrylock), they collected their items (which were all there and untouched) and left. They did not see Dracogen.

 

A week or so later, another ball rolled into “The Queens Legs”. *****

“Dracogen wants to see you immediately”.

 

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GM Notes

* Interestingly; the only suggestion of “let’s take him and loot his stuff” was actually shouted down by the others (“I think this guy is a bad-ass and way more powerful than us”).

** Some of the discussion was hilarious, but far too long to repeat here. It centred around “what’s he going to do in the night / why does he want us to stay the night / what’s he going to do to us in the night?”

*** Judson didn’t notice that his Beast Timer artefact had beeped; one bar had turned red (Judson has Howls at the Moon and the artefact warns him if a change is imminent; there are 5 bars, each gives a cumulative 20% chance of the change happening that night.)

**** I was going to put in an Intrusion where a pack failed prematurely and there would have to be a mid-air rescue, but we were running out of time (we only get 2 hours on a Tuesday due to work and college commitments).

***** They call these Dinklebots. I don’t understand the reference, but they think it’s funny

 

Numenera

Fear the Ocean – Part 3

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 …

 

Harrylock readied his crossbow arm and the others drew weapons; however the creatures ignored them and poured straight past and into the ocean. When it became apparent that no more were coming out, they moved towards the doorway. It was an irregular pentagon, straight-sided and wider at the base than at the top. From inside came a soft blue glow and a faint “brrark” noise.

Inside was a pentagonal chamber of grey stone with another archway in the opposite wall. Ledges lined the walls from floor to ceiling; on these roosted hundreds of blue/green birds with tentacles instead of feet. The air was filled with the rasping, croaking “brrark” sound. They watched the “tentacled chickens” for a time; then Galadiir stepped over to the nearest one; drew his sword and killed it. He picked it up; it bled purple blood all over him.

“I wonder what they taste like.”

At this point, something burst against the wall behind him. He turned, to see the gooey remains of an egg sliding down the wall. Several more burst around him, on the walls and on the floor. He ran for the inner archway; dodging flying eggs being hurled by the angry chickens. Alas, his luck ran out and he was pelted just as he reached the archway; not only were they sticky but they stank as well.

“Maybe you shouldn’t have killed the chicken”, commented Sonny and he and Harrylock picked their way through the mess to join him.

Beyond the archway, a sloping ramp led to another pentagonal chamber, bisected by a shimmering plane of light. The floor, walls and ceiling were covered in rectangular and trapezoid blocks, seemingly exuded from the grey stone. The blocks glowed in a variety of hues of blue, purple and green; slowly fading then brightening again. Harrylock shot a bolt through the plane to see if it disintegrated (or something), Sonny stepped forward and vanished from view. On hearing his voice the others followed into the second part of the chamber. A pentagonal archway was flanked by two glowing crystal Dendron trees; their branches and fronds moving in a slow, complex pavane. Galadiir approached the archway; the movement of the fronds became more agitated; then with blinding speed a crystalline spear lanced out from one of the trees and pierced his chest. He retreated quickly and the Dendrons resumed their leisurely waving dance.

Harrylock tried shooting it, but the waving fronds were difficult to target. He attacked it full on; a mass of razor-sharp dendrites lanced into him; one snapped off and remained embedded in his leg. Galadiir threw several Ice Onslaughts; the main trunk cracked in several places but to his amazement they healed within a few minutes. A mass rush; using the carcass of the chicken as a diversion (animated by Galadiir’s Hedge Magic), saw Harrylock and Galadiir get hurt and Sonny only escaping by the skin of his teeth. They retreated to the other side of the plane to rest and recover.

“We can’t fight it, we can’t dodge it. How do we get past it?”

Galadiir rummaged in his pack and pulled out a Detonation Cypher (Singularity). “This might do it”.

“You’re going to set off a black hole with us at Ground Zero? Great plan, not.”

Sonny suddenly looked up. “We can’t fight it and we can’t dodge it. Maybe we have to THINK our way past it.” He went back into the next room and sat down, studying the Dendrons. At last he saw it; there was a pattern to the movements of the fronds. With careful thought, it should be possible to move through the ‘holes’ in the pattern. He got to his feet and ran forward; diving and twisting. He nearly made it; he rolled through the archway; but had a huge dendrite rammed through his forearm. As he watched; the flesh around the shard began to turn crystalline. Galadiir followed him and set about removing the dendrite; he managed to do so and it fell apart into glittering sand in his hands. Harrylock made it through safely and Galadiir removed the pieces of crystal in his leg. Harrylock needed some repair work doing and Sonny was able to step in and provide this.

Meanwhile, far to the north, Judson had reached Mulen. He stopped off at a tavern for a pint and a platter; then headed for Orrando’s house. Orrando welcomed him it and offered refreshment; then asked for news. When told of his son’s death and the manner in which he died; Orrando wept. He took the ring and paid over the agreed 40 shins. As a bonus; because they had killed the Vapes; he handed over a square of synth with a map on it.

“This was to be Rando’s inheritance. Now it is yours. Make good use of it”

Having rested for a short while; Harrylock, Galadiir and Sonny headed off down the ramp, which spiralled downwards, ending in an impossibly tall pentagonal chamber (at least 50m high). Black stone slabs covered every surface; deep within them could be seen miniature lightning bolts; like brain synapses firing. In the centre of the chamber were five pentangle – shaped stones, set in a pentagon. One had a curious five-part headset attached. There were no other exits.

Sonny’s danger sense was tingling “There’s something not right here”.

Galadiir pulled up the headset (it moved freely, but was somehow moulded to the stone), and put it on. It was a five-armed device and clearly not intended to fit a human skull. There was a soundless burst of light inside his head and he now knew how to turn the machine on and off at will as long as he was connected to it. He also knew that the machine could create any creature he was familiar with. He concentrated and in the centre of the pentagon began to form a tentacled chicken. The effort was a tremendous strain on Galadiir’s mind and he couldn’t hold the concentration; with a scream he jerked backwards and the chicken faded from view. He put on the headset again and turned the machine off.

“Wait”, called Sonny. “Everything is phasing out again and we’re going with it. Turn it back on.”

After some discussion involving rolling the detonation cypher down the spiral ramp (“it’ll probably turn round and roll back up”), they decided to turn the machine off; then use the Reality Spike to jam the headset down so that it couldn’t be used. Sonny elected to do this, as he had the best running ability; the others retreated back up the ramp. They dived past the Dendrons and through the chicken chamber; Sonny was hot on their heels. He lost his footing on the slippery egg mess and fell; Harrylock went back and dragged him out just as the spires phased out and the doorway vanished.

There was no sign of Soren or his boat; looking across to the shore, they saw that the village had gone as well.

“Everything was a creation of that machine. But what was it for and who turned it on again? Guess we’ll never know”.

Epilogue:

Sometime later they met up with Judson in Mulen. Judson paid over their share of the money and they studied the map.

“Orrando said it was Rando’s inheritance and that a great treasure was there”.

“Well, it appears to be an island off the coast, I’d estimate about fifty miles. We can get a boat.”

“It’ll need to be able to fly then. According to this; the island is three thousand feet up in the air.”

Next Adventure: The Hidden Price

 

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GM Notes

I need to work out the XP awards; they did gain some during the adventure but also spent a lot on re-rolls (in combat, so using extra Effort wasn’t an option).

Overall, everyone really enjoyed the Game. I found it really easy to run as GM, there are very few stats to keep track off and creatures / NPC’s are simple 1 or 2 line entries in my notes. This entire adventure fitted on both sides of a single sheet of A4!

I also made some reference cards with the creature artwork on out of the books so the players could have a visual reference. This went down well and I’ve got about 50 pieces of assorted artwork on index card that I can use. I am fully aware that the images are copyrighted and no challenge to that copyright is intended. If anyone has serious issues over this them please PM me.

The players loved the free-form descriptive nature and that they did all the die rolls. I started by telling them the level they had to beat; by the end they were working it out themselves. This has become our preferred Game and they can’t wait until the next session.

The Hidden Price is going to be (more or less) straight out of the rulebook. My next Adventure I’m working on is called In The Key of Time.