December 17, 2013

Numenera: The Lung Machine and the Primicarium

This is part 2, part 1 is here and part 3 here.

Descending down a spiral ramp the party discover a body slumped against a wall. It was a man, alive but near death. On his neck gaped a set of gills. They were able to revive him by pouring water on these gills, but he was too weak to answer any questions. The stairwell opened into another large chamber, but the way was blocked by an invisible barrier. The jumble was able to push the numbing field and disable the barrier at great physical cost. He disabled the field by tearing open a panel. Atop a pedestal inside was a rectangular device bigger than a man, sitting atop a quartet of heavy wires. The machine shuddered into life as the party inspected it, lifting itself on the articulated cables and opening a door like a great mouth. It swallowed the jumble whole, bound him with metal restraints, and slammed shut with a boom. He managed to keep one arm free and began to hack at the machine with a knife.

The rest of the party tried to free him from outside, slicing through the cables and trying to force the door back open. Meanwhile, the poor jack trapped inside quickly discovered the device’s purpose as a heavy collar locked his head in place and began to remove his lungs. Yes. Remove his lungs. He was able to break free of half the collar with his knife, but the other began to auger away at his neck. The floating kid was able to slide his blade into the crack of the door and with a burst of gravitic force blew the door open. They tore the jack from the machine, slicing through the restraints in a shower of sparks and pale blue gel. The dashing man pulled the stricken jack free then destroyed the machine with a flurry of crossbow bolts into its internal mechanics. The pitiful jack scrabbled at the collar around his neck for a moment before pulling it free, trailing several feet of tubing from the long slits cauterized cleanly on his neck.

The man had gills. Only one set. That pulsed ineffectually in the thin air on one side of his neck.

Everyone freaked out for a moment then.

Picking over the remains of the Lung Machine they discovered an artifact, another collar. They discovered it would work like as a gas exchange, and returning to the dying man in the hall fitted it around his neck. It unfolded like a jacobean ruff and almost immediately color began to return to the man’s face. He introduced himself as Gabex, a numenera hunter who had traveled to these ruins with a group. All he could remember was pushing through the field, then everything going black. He begged the group to take him along, and they let him follow along behind.

Finding no other exits they went back outside to try the other passage. The other passage smelled of woodsmoke. A wide room beyond had been turned into a camp, the remains of a fire smoldered on the pale floor, and gear and blankets were strewn about. Also a body, chewed up like the remains at Genson’s steading. Beyond was a long hall with several adjoining rooms, some broken open, some still sealed. In one room they found large cubes of ancient material that horn when touched and seemed lighter than they should have been for their size. Using a cypher they looked through the walls, and decided to break into a chamber of deep blue pools. This proved to be something of a mistake as the water in the pools animated and attempted to drown the group. They were able to keep the water weirds at bay with their esoteries, and managed to sneak past them and collect a cache of cyphers from a pool of acid by luring the weirds into it.

In another room they found a long silvery device made of coiled cables and plates nearly 8 feet long, resting on a series of short pedestals. On one end it had something like a saddle but in the place of reigns it had only a series of inset holes in a mysterious pattern. By experimentation with the holes the group discovered that it could be made to float into the air. Deciding to leave it for further study later, they traveled further along the hallways to a spiral ramp that led upward. They found dark cylinders filled with dark shapes In alcoves set in the outer wall of the ramp. When touched they began to dissolve, releasing one of the dark creatures that attacked them at the farm. Turning to flee they found their way blocked by more of the flying things descending from the ramp above!


The Lung Machine (Level 5)
Gill Ruff
This slab-like machine moves about on four thick articulated cables. It has a large door on its front which is usually leaves ajar, tempting the curious to investigate. Its original programming corrupted eons ago, and now it lies in wait like a crocodile. It will attempt to snap up anyone who comes close (GM Intrusion.) PCs have one round to escape before the Lung Machine’s  internal restraints lock in place. After that it will begin to bore out the character’s lungs and replace them with a set of gills. This takes 5 rounds and will deal 2 Might damage a round. If deactivated the Lung Machine contains 5 cypers including a Gill Ruff, a device worn around the neck that allows a gilled humanoid to breathe air safely. Should the machine be more drastically dispatched the ruff has a 50% of being damaged and unusable.

The Primicarium
Taking the form of a seven foot long needle composed of tightly wrapped cables and plates, the Primicarium is a flying machine from a lost age. It has a saddle-like indentation at one end inset with a series of deep holes in a precise configuration. These are actually controls for ascent, descent, and speed, and with some experimentation anyone can learn to pilot the vehicle. It handles and accelerates slowly, but the upper limit is beyond a human’s ability to stay on. On discovery it will have power for up to 1d6 hours of flight, after which it will become inert. Refueling a Primicarium is an adventure in itself.

Primicarium controls

December 06, 2013

Numenera: the Scuttling Vivisctors and the Aquarium

For the last few months I've been running Numenera. It’s been a lot of fun, the system is light enough to grasp immediately but with enough hooks and crunchy bits to keep it all from feeling too samey. It’s setting drifts far enough from standard fantasy to let me go very weird early and often. The one rule my brain can never remember is GM Intrusion. Any time you would pixel bitch or whatever a player in another game you instead offer a GM Intrusion. If they accept they get XP and bad things happen to them. If not then nothing. All those times my players should have said “We search the room!” and instead walk into certain doom I must preface with “Would you like to be hosed?” I should give my players a little flag to wave when I screw them over to remind me about it. A session report follows:
Meanwhile, in the Ninth World, word had begun to spread that a cache of numenera had been discovered somewhere outside Jaston. Being of a parochial sort the locals wouldn't touch the stuff, so traders, thieves, and greedy folk of all sorts were descending on the town. This included the party, a dashing jack in a hat, a shady nano cobbled together from spare parts and meat, and a chilling glaive wielding a glass sword. After a short stop in Jaston, long enough to piss off an entire bar, punch their way out, and pick up a floating local nanokid, they set off in the direction of the crevasse where the numenera had been found. After a day’s travel they stopped at Genson’s farm. The place was deserted, with nothing but a half-mad, badly wounded aneen still alive. The discovery of a trapdoor in the main house led them into the basement, but not before releasing a pair of shadowy, flying things into the evening air. The remains of Genson and his family were found below with horrible weals and deep bites marring their forms.
Their paranoia raised, the party barricaded themselves inside the farmhouse and set watch for the night. Soon a tremendous banging began at the windows and doors as somethings tried to force its way inside. The black squamous things had returned with their brood, forcing up the door and windows and flying inside. The group repelled the creatures with esotery and bolt, and was nearly overwhelmed before a timely kitchen fire drove the things off, leaving one of their number oozing black ichor and sparking in its death throes. The party decided to sleep the rest of the night in the open air, protected by a roaring bonfire.
After an uneasy night in the open the group continued on to the crevasse. It cut a deep scar across the rolling plains, bisecting an ancient ruin. A long hallway lay open to the air, pale stone or synth gleaming at the bottom. After a short climb they reached the closest tunnel. Through it was a large round chamber filled with glowing symbols that made slow pirouettes around the room, while smaller gleaming discs scattered and wheeled like schools of fish. The discs were attracted the party, but gave painful shocks to whoever they touched. This distracted everyone from the scuttling vivisectors hidden behind the swirling holograms. These lobster-like synthetics had arrays of scalpels and surgical tools on long articulated arms with which they attempted to implant the discs into the group’s bodies. After a confusing melee the vivisectors and most of the discs lay in pieces on the dusty floor. We ended the session there.
The Aquarium
This circular room is full of confusing holographic displays and a cloud of schooling AI. Hiding behind the displays are scuttling vivisectors.

Schooling AI are small discs that float freely in the air and deliver jolts to whatever they touch. They are controlled by simple processes that keep them moving in schools throughout a set area. These are level 1 foes, but they cannot be hit by normal weapons. PC’s in the area of a school of these things take a point of Might damage each round from electric shock, ignoring armor.

Scuttling Vivisectors are synthetic creatures that look similar to marine lobsters, but bristle with surgical tools. They are level 2 foes, but hide at Level 3. They will attempt to implant Schooling AI discs into PC’s on a successful attack. Implanted discs deal an extra point of damage each round. PC’s with 4 or more discs implanted will be lifted into the air and all actions will be one step more difficult.

This is part 1 of 3. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.