Session 24 – Into the Jungle

GM: Paul
Players: John-Alex, Brad-Ian, Dusty-Matt, Jon-Simon, Bill-Chet, Laura-Lucy, Paul-Meaghan(NPC)
Game Date: December 23, 2018

Dusty, Ian, Alex and Meghan along with Va Roln, KiSi, Huey and Mahwaew roll into Ironwood with their snowmobiles. The snow is quite high in mid-October. They have two hab units and three manufacturing hubs that are Talolan. The people in the manufacturing building wave them in. The facility is pretty open and they are working on some vehicles. They have big power units like the Hub has which are giving heat and electricity.

Alex asks the two Ironwood men if Talolans are welcome here, nodding to the other two that are traveling with them. They say “of course” and offer to bring the group to one of the hab units for some coffee, though the evening meal is done. One introduces himself as Edmund and the other is Bobby Turner. Edmund seems friendly and Bobby is kind of a goof.

There are several people gathered in the hab as the newcomers come in. One of them is an older Native American-looking man. The four the party are traveling with wave to him, and when Ian asks who he is, they let him know that he is Mac. Ian asks if he is a leader, but they say there isn’t such a thing here, but he’s done some organization into scouting groups and watches — he is a former army ranger.

Coming into the mess hall, everyone sees a four foot pile of granite and some sort of a plant creature. The others are puzzled but Alex explains that there were other races in the Talolan solar system that they also tried to save. The M’ket – crystaline creatures and Kalydians are the plant people. In all, there are eight people who are not from Earth here. There are six people with heavily Native features, a couple of kids and five others who appear to be joiners.

The hosts bring out some stew and coffee for the newcomers. Everyone introduces themselves and Chet asks about Dusty’s dogs. He tells his story about living in north central Wisconsin and as things got difficult up there with equipment breaking down and strange creatures and razor grass, he ended up in Ironwood. He came with a woman named Brynna who also introduces herself, she is an acupuncturist and herbologist.

Ian goes to talk with Mac and salutes, but Mac says “that was a long time ago, sit down.” Ian asks him about his service and he says that he served all over the place in the Marines for over 20 years. Ian was an MP in the army and served in Abu Ghraib but not as long. Ian says that he’s the leader of the group by default as most people come to him with questions. Mac says that he’s in the same boat. He talks about how he was here and several pods fell down and created the buildings here.

Chet asks Alex about the “pods” that have come down, and Alex explains about how the Talolans and others came here, the pods, mutations, etc.

Alex says that he’d like to go to Menomonee Falls to speak with a doctor who might know something about the blue virus. Chet asks about that too and they explain. Meaghan offers that these are “still people” but sometimes we have to put them down.

Ian expresses concern that it’s almost Christmas and they’ve been gone from the Complex for two days. He asks Mac if they have a radio.

They come back a while later and Alex explains that they will head out in the morning to go to Menomonee Falls to talk to a researcher there about the blues, and then head home. Ian says that there are “other things” that happened as well. He lets Meaghan and Dusty know that they spoke with Scotty and he told them that after a cloning accident a Talolan had taken up residence in Simon’s head. Everyone makes light of the situation, Meaghan saying “That’s unfortunate,” Ian saying “I hope the Talolan is okay” and Dusty saying “That’s got to be pretty bad to have Simon inside you, you know about that, right Meg?” She rolls her eyes.

Chet asks to come along to Falls because he might have family that’s still there. Ian agrees, but then Chet starts talking about coming to the Hub. Ian doesn’t seem comfortable with him “inviting himself” to the Hub.

Back at the complex, a doctor (Amir) comes in to check on Simon and he says that the rest of the group made contact and they will be back in the next few days. Simon is in a bad way with his headaches and thanks him, then goes back to sleep.

The folks in Ironwood head to sleep. The next morning a woman named Gracie May is making food for everyone. Brynna is there too. After everyone is finished, Edmund takes everyone back to the manufacturing building and says that he topped up the gas tanks and checked the oil on the snowmobiles. Ian is very thankful.

A blast of cold air comes at them as the garage door is opened. The going is pretty quick to Falls as it’s a big stretch of country and no cars.

There is an old Army listening post west of Falls that is abandoned and it’s now a medical facility. They are welcomed inside but Ian asks Chet and Meaghan to stay outside. Dusty stays outside as well. They meet Lucy who is a scientist. She says that she was infected with the blue virus and she was cured, and they are studying that with the limited facilities they have here. She also serves everyone in the community and spends a lot of time going out to people in the area as well. She also mentions that there are some crazy people up at Holy Hill. They may need more protection.

Ian suggests that those at the Hub help out to get Lucy some power for her facility that’s more reliable or to have her come down to the Hub, and she appreciates the help.

Also, Ian asks for some migraine medicine for Simon, and she says that they have some in stock. She has 20 doses of Triptan that she gives to Ian.

Afterward, Meaghan gets a physical exam done by the staff.

Chet talks with Lucy and asks about his family. They ran a machine shop in Falls and owned a feed store near Germantown. Lucy doesn’t know them in particular but asks the staff and they say that off of Donges Bay Road near Mequon there is an Orlowski farm.

Chet asks Ian if they could make a stop and he’s not sure, because they wouldn’t be getting back home until after dark. He radios Scotty and lets him know that they will be coming back later.

The group heads out from here and goes up to Donges Bay and Granville to the farm. Unfortunately there is no one here. They quickly turn around and head back to the Hub so they can get there before dark. It is a long, cold ride.

Ian loads them into a small shack and tells the newcomers not to come out. They are curious what is going on and Alex explains that there is a security system, and he needs a swab of their DNA to add to the system so they don’t get zapped. Meaghan stays with them.

A woman in her late 20s comes into the door and says “I’ll take it from here.” She has a clipboard and asks all kinds of questions about their medical history. Brynna is confused as to what is going on but Chet just gabs away telling his whole life story.

After a short while, Chet is brought into the compound. He sees the main building and the pylons all around which look to have major weapons on them.

Ian brings the meds up to the doctor so he can give them to Simon. The doctor says it’s exactly what is needed.

Simon is happy everyone’s back but complains about the pain. The narcotics that he’s on are making him feel better but very foggy. Having someone in his head who doesn’t speak his language has been very hard. Ian is worried that the Talolan may take over Simon’s mind. Alex says that he has a device that creates a field that’s helpful for calming his mind that the Talolans use for meditation. He turns it on and tries to mindlink with the alien, but he can’t quite make it work.

Simon asks to head back to the bunkhouse with the others, and the doctor agrees. Simon feels ashamed that he caused trouble and got sick on the doctor, and thanks him.

The others take Simon back to the bunkhouse and crash. Ian is concerned about Simon having a gun so he takes it for safekeeping for now. Chet is given a spot in the bunkhouse and is happy to have heat and hot water.

As we fall asleep, a strange lucid dream begins. Oddly everyone is there including Chet. Everyone is in their jammies, and Dusty is naked. There is another Talolan here as well, and Alex tries to mindlink with him. Simon doesn’t have a migraine any longer and is very happy.

We look up and see that a huge planet is above us. The Talolan urges Simon to run away and Alex repeats it. We all run and see some strange foliage. Suddenly there is crazy gravity pulling us upward and we try to make for shelter. We see a hollow tree ahead of us but Meaghan trips and falls. Ian and Simon grab onto her and Chet onto them. Chet almost loses his grip but is able to pull us in.

The tree is uprooted and we float upward. We continue going up and after 15 minutes or so there is a bright flash. We seem to go unconscious for a second and after waking up, we feel a weightlessness and we are falling. Alex concentrates and puts up a barrier. We hit the ground and the tree smashes.

We pick ourselves up and Alex tries again to communicate with the alien. He is successful this time and is able to discern that his name is Ser Tomertoni, and that we are somehow in the Crintar system (where the Talolans lived) and we just experienced a conjunction between two of the planets. Ser seems to be reliving the events that he’s already seen, so he may know what to do. He urges the group to go to the “citadel” so we decide to follow his lead.

Session 1 – The best spirits are the ones you drink

Chicago, the year 2053. It’s been fourteen years since the terrorist organization Alamos 20,000 destroyed the Sears Tower, and that areas is still haunted — literally — by the ghosts of the thousands who died on that day, but also by ghouls and other nasties. The area is referred to as the Shattergraves, and the neighborhood by the unpleasant name “the Noose.” The group is located only a dozen blocks away in Little Italy, right near the University.

Bumble (Dwarf Rigger, John), Dusty Raven (Street Shaman, Paul), Zed (Physical Adept, Matt) and Thumper (Troll Street Samurai, Bill) are a group of runners staying over at their friend Shades’ house (Dwarf Investigator, NPC).

The group has been running together for about six months and have pulled a few jobs for different corps, working through a fixer friend called “Grizzly” and otherwise using the local hacker-run “Noose-Net” to keep in touch with other runners in the area.

It’s been mostly smooth sailing with a couple of close calls, particularly on a Shiawase job that almost went sideways when Bumble’s cyberware malfunctioned and one of his drones were seen by security. They got away but are all still getting the scorch marks off of their armor after that one — Shiawase probably won’t be hiring them for a while.

Partly because of that snafu, things haven’t been great for the past few weeks and creds are starting to run dry. Most members of the team have been crashing at Shades’ place, since he is the only one with a nice apartment, much to his annoyance.

On night, the group talks about their history together and the general state of things. Thumper talks about how he has to support his ex-wife and children, which has been hard, but he appreciates being part of the group.

Dusty says that he loves having his spot on the roof where he can see the sky, and that he has all he needs here — he doesn’t want to leave.

Zed says that he doesn’t approve of Dusty’s spirits hanging around, because spirits have it out for him. The only good spirits are the ones you drink, he says.

Finally, Bumble professes how much he likes being with the group and that he will do better during the next run, after his cyberware conked out on him last time.

Early the next morning, Shades rouses the crew and lets them know that a vid-call came in from Grizzly that he has a juicy job for the group — minus his usual finder’s fee, of course — with a Johnson who represents an up-and-coming biotech firm called Grail Biogenetics. He says that if the runners take this job, they may finally have enough cred to stop squatting at his place.

When asked for details, Shades says that according to Grizzly, this corp seems hungry to prove themselves. They have some strong investors but haven’t produced much revenue in the two years they’ve been in business. They seemed eager to get some help on one of their recent projects, and want a team that can be discreet. Shades rolls his eyes at that. Dusty says “So who are they going to get?” Undeterred, Shades says that the Johnson wants to meet at Leroy’s Cafe at noon.

Shades then announces that he will go make some coffee. Dusty comes with him and asks to make it, to which he agrees. Dusty makes it extra strong.

Leroy’s is a throwback cafe with approximations of 20th century diner dishes — still mostly made from soy, of course — but they do the best they can. Once seated with the Johnson, the waitress wearing a large nametag that reads DOLORES pours everyone a soykaf and then leaves them to their business.

The Johnson considers all of them carefully, and then gets right to business. “Mr. Grizzly assured me that your group would be able to handle matters of discretion, yes?” he says with a raised eyebrow. “Grail Biogenetics has a very sensitive matter that they need independent assistance with. As you undoubtedly are aware, the area around the Shattergraves has been unusable for many years due to the…strange creatures that roam there. Grail has been working tirelessly for the past two years to create a compound that these…emanations would be abhorrent to, and their tests have been going well. Unfortunately a rival corp — we suspect it to be Ares — sent a team in and they stole a sample of the test substance, called Spiritbane. Luckily it’s only a small sample, but the substance is extremely toxic to humans as well as spirits, so could be dangerous if it has fallen into the wrong hands. We engaged a local hacker to track it down through net chatter, and set him up in a safehouse. Your first task is to meet up with him and together determine where the sample might be, and then get it back to by any means necessary. For your efforts, we are offering 30,000 nuyen. We hope this sum is acceptable. Here is a datachip that shows the location of the safehouse and the dropoff point.”

The group agrees to do the job, but asks for more money. Dusty says “That’s a nice watch, you must have a lot of money.” The Johnson agrees almost immediately to do an additional 10k. Thumper stares him down and tells him to give Dusty his watch. The man looks perturbed but agrees. He says that the group must do the job to the best of their ability, to which they agree.

On the way to the safehouse, Dusty tells Bumble to stop at a small shop. He goes in to see his friend Corman, an apothecary. He has all kinds of herbs, mixtures and strange things in his store. He is mixing something and takes too much of a swig, and his eyes go wide. He then sees Dusty and greets him. Dusty asks if the old man has heard anything about a substance called Spirit Bane, but he hasn’t. He does recognize Grail Biogenetics and says that they are a decent company — he knows someone who works there — but they are a bit too eager and are bordering on reckless. He suggests to be careful when dealing with them. Dusty thanks the old man and asks if he has any filtration masks, which he does. Job complete, he goes back to the van.

The safehouse is further uptown, and takes Bumble about 20 minutes of driving in the team’s van. Pulling up, the neighborhood the place looks normal enough — nice, even. They take the elevator to the 40th floor and arrive at 4023, the address of the safehouse. 

Dusty hears the sounds of a struggle within and tasks a spirit to go inside and look around, then report back. It does and says that there are 2 people in the room.

Bumble knocks loudly on the door and at first there is nothing, so he pounds on it. Gunfire erupts through the door and a couple of shots spang off of his armor.

Zed  breaks the door down and they rush inside. There are several Ares corpsec men in here, and the group takes them all down. Thumper blasts several with his roomsweeper shotgun.

From the next room they hear someone yell “back off, or the kid dies!” The group continues through undaunted, and the corpsec guy follows up on his promise by shooting the young man he has captive, an elf. The shot goes through his shoulder and he seems to be in a lot of pain. Blood is leaking from his cheek and he is holding his chest.

The runners take out the last two guards and ask the kid who he is. He says that his name is Zippo and he was hired by Grail to track down the sample. He found out through the NooseNet that Ares fumbled badly and had the sample stolen by a bunch of gangers called the Sewer Rats. He was tracking the rats’ movements with a program but his hard line was cut off when the Ares goons broke in. He will need to find a safe place to finish his search.

The group takes him to a local net cafe, and they try to break into a back room to get some privacy, but the proprietor notices and kicks them out (TWO CRIT FAILS!). They decide to go right from a line in a nearby alleyway, the group doing surveillance while Zippo decks in. He makes quick work of it, getting the data in under fifteen minutes.

When the trace is completed, Zippo tells them that they are likely in the tunnels beneath the old Garfield Park Conservatory, which has been abandoned for twenty years. He gives the runners a likely entry point but there are no known remaining maps of the tunnels beneath that area.

As the runners enter the sewers, it takes them a while to wind their way down into the tunnels, following a trail of footprints that are likely from the Sewer Rats gangers. Descending down a long ladder, they see disused caverns, and the smell down here is horrible. They are orks, after all. The group dons their masks.

Moving further down, they see some bodies here. It looks like they have been torn up. A group of gangers are barely alive in the next room, and Dusty heals them. When they are able to speak, they say that they did steal the sample from Ares, and one of the gangers busted it open down in the tunnels. Strange things started to happen — they were attacked by something and some of the gang members were acting crazy. They ran away but the things attacked them and killed their friends. Then, only a few minutes prior, some “people like you” came — people with guns.

The group surmises that Ares has beaten them here, and rushes down the caverns. They hear gunfire and Bumble sends his drone through the doorway which is slightly ajar. It smells bad in here, and there is a green mist. The drone sees that some of the gangers have been turned into zombies, and the corpsec guys, along with a female elf, are shooting at them.

Thumper rolls a grenade into the room and it kills two of the gangers. The rest of the party busts in and begins shooting, taking out corpsec guys and also zombies. Everyone is fighting each other.

Bumble’s assault drone takes out one of the corpsec guys, but another shoots it down and it is wrecked.

As the battle comes close to the end, the runners hear a sound from the chamber to the west of them. Two strange shambling spirits come through and begin to attack them, seemingly drawn to Zed first. The thing exhales a cloud of poison around it, but Zed’s mask is able to keep him safe.

Dusty comes from around the corner and uses a spell to banish one of the spirits. The other ones continues to attack, but Zed slices it with his magically-enhanced sword.

Thumper takes the last guy down with his monosword, finally changing things up from simply shotgunning people.

Bumble gathers up the sample, which seems to have some chambers still intact. It is sort of like a half of an egg carton, with two of the sections broken and four unharmed. He wraps it up tightly and grabs the remains of his drone, then they head for the surface.

That night the runners go to the drop off point and return the sample, as well as Mr. Johnson’s watch. The courier is confused but accepts it. The runners get their 40k nuyen as well.

Later, Shades congratulates them on a relatively “easy” run, which the others groan at. He says that finally they may be able to get their own places, but Dusty says that he likes it there, why would he move?

Session 22 – Here Be Dragons

The dark elves are out of cannon range at this point. The elves in our party know that these dark elves attack using huge floating fortresses, and sometimes summon deep sea creatures to help them. These smaller ships are sent out to do smaller raids.

We see Giovanni coming out on a war horse loaded for bear. He has six other mounted warriors with them, all with heraldry of the hound. They have lances and cavalry spears with plate mail. They seem to be surveying the damage.

We speak to Giovanni and Jean asks if the elves raid here often. He says not usually, they must be probing the defenses. He says that we should meet him at the palazzo as soon as we’re ready.

We head back, and they don’t ask us for our weapons this time. Giovanni arrives and shrugs his armor off. He simply says “Dazzle me.” Jean says “We need to talk to the elves, dwarves and others to see what we can raise from them. We need to get some security on the road and also have people come here to help. The dwarves we know are also very fine armorers, which could be a good source of trade. Is there anything you can do to help send the word?” Giovanni says that he has a ship that’s bound for Britonia that is leaving in three days.

Jean spends the next three days copying the maps that he’s done so far and also a letter to Duke Adalhard. Our plan is to follow the trail north and stop off at Din Borim and grab some more of the treasure.

Giovanni calls out for someone named “Guido” and has him bring in a huge box the size of a coffin. He says that he will send some of the Hounds along with us on our trip, and if we run into Sasha’s raiders we will kill them and plant the things in the box on them — they appear to be greenskin weapons.

An apothecary asks to see Brokk. He warily agrees and is led to the man’s office. Apparently he was put up to this by Tobruk. The man explains that he can “cut” the insanity out of him, and explains that he’s done the surgery for others successfully in the past. Brokk finally agrees, thinking that nothing can be worse than the nightmares he’s had. Miraculously, the surgery is a success and after three days he’s gathered most of his strength back. The nightmares seem to have ceased.

In the meantime, Jean has sent off his package and Giovanni’s men have mustered with all of their equipment. The captain’s name is Lorenzo and he has twenty men. They have packed provisions for us as well.

Brokk gets some manacles and a few extra daggers before we leave.

We head north with the company of Hounds and move through the mountains for several days. The night before we arrive we are camping on the road and suddenly we hear a sound of massive wings. A huge dragon comes over the hill and begins attacking us. The group fires off several shots right away, hitting him in the head and arm many times. Brokk runs up and tries to scramble up and hit him, but can’t. It flies down and roasts three of the men and singes a few more. Jean fires an arrow through his eye and kills it. (He has 85 wounds and we killed him in 2 rounds.)

We cut off the head and take it with us. We arrive at the keep the next day and the dwarves go in only. We preserve and mount the head, then we move on.

Later we arrive at the forge of the two dwarves and let them know that the keep is open (and chaos dwarf free) and that we’d like them to go there and run the forge. They agree without question to pack up and head to the keep, and will bring others. Tobruk and Brokk give them the master craftsman tools. They are extremely excited to see it.

Session 21 – Beard-kini

We wake up the next morning, most of us at The Borderlands, and the elves at Phandyth’s Chalice. Maruviel and Vedasi speak with the elf maid and talk to her about their homeland.

Jean hears back from DeSalvo that we are invited for dinner at the palace. Many of us get new clothes and get cleaned up as would be appropriate for a fancy event like this. We come to the palace and they ask to take our weapons. We agree and head inside.

Giovanni himself is a well built older man with salt and pepper hair. He talks like he is straight out of Brooklyn and is quite casual. He asks Jean to explain who we are and seems to have no patience for pleasantries. He certainly doesn’t seem to like Hauptner or Sasha. He is surprised to learn that we were able to get into the keep to the north and that we made it through the mountains, but is concerned that any trade route may be another method for Sasha to come through to his lands. Brokk agrees that we must find a way to secure it.

Jean mentions that Sasha wants the chaos items we have, and Giovanni’s ears perk up when we talk about that. He asks us for the flat truth if we have them or not — Tobruk says that we know where they are but they are safe from Sasha for now. Giovanni reveals that Sasha is a chaos cultist who has a bunch of followers of Slanesh.

About 20 years ago, he was working with Hauptner and was tasked with attacking a stronghold of a group that had a chaos item but refused, and the two parted ways. Hauptner is in it because he is enamored with her — originally he wasn’t aligned with chaos but eventually he became corrupted as well.

Giovanni says that he can’t fight against both Sasha and Hauptner by himself, and he hasn’t been able to get anyone’s attention from home. He has always had a code of honor, and some people have flocked to that banner, but he doesn’t have that many people in his employ.

Giovanni says that there is lots of opportunity for dwarves in the region. He has his own copper mine and is willing to share that wealth with those who help him out.

We agree that we can talk to the dwarves and the elves to help. Jean says that he will get a message back to Duke Adalhard and let him know about the situation and perhaps his countrymen can help as well.

Suddenly we hear the loud booming of distant cannons. Someone bursts into the room and lets Giovanni know that the harbor is under attack. He excuses himself and says he must take care of this situation. We volunteer to help and he thanks us.

We go back to the hotel and grab our gear, then head down to the docks. We hear someone calling that there are dark elf corsairs attacking the city. We see them coming up the docks. The elves in our party are offended by the mere appearance of these abominations. So far they have been attacking the town guards, but they kill them quickly and move toward us.

We are able to take care of them, and we see down the other docks that the we had the highest concentration of them here, and the guards have taken care of the others. The remaining dark elves on the boats in the bay turn and flee.

Checking on the dead dark elves, who call themselves Druchii, we see that they have sea dragon scale armor, which is known to degrade quickly if it isn’t oiled with a slime that the elves use. They also have some good quality scimitars.

Session 20 – I’m a Dapper Dwarf Man

We decide that the dwarven hold Din Borim would be best served as a forge and trade station with the dwarves we met near Groghaven as its keepers. We plan to discuss this with them, and also the improvement of the trade route by widening, etc. when we come by there again.

Our immediate goal is to head into Giovanni’s land, however, so we set of to the south the next morning after a night of rest in the keep.

After traveling for one day, we arrive at a small town called Tefana, the inn here is called the Harper and Goblet. The place looks old and not well maintained. The bartender looks Tilian.

We see a bunch of men at the bar, and after speaking with them they say that they are not in the employ of Giovanni “right now” as they are not on a job. Brokk recalls that Tilia has many mercenaries, and it’s kind of a main export of theirs. In fact Giovanni himself was a mercenary captain, and he still calls himself a captain.

Jean says to them that we plan on traveling to Castinea tomorrow. They say that there are patrols but if we don’t cause any trouble there shouldn’t be cause for concern. Castinea is the biggest city in the region. It has a lot of shoreline for ships and a big stone wall all around it. It’s well fortified. We finish up and stay the night here, then leave for Castinea in the morning.

We go through another small town and continue on to the south. We make it to Castinea and find a place to stay (the Borderland Inn), then spend the next several days finding things out about the area, mostly by socializing and greasing some palms, before we meet with Giovanni.

Giovanni resides in a keep on the east side of town, across the river. His personal mercenary company is called The Hounds, and they are all Tilian. (Other mercenary groups have been from varied nationalities.)

We find out that Giovanni was in the employ of Hauptner, but there was some kind of falling out between them. There was supposedly a failing by Giovanni during a battle that caused the rift, then he came here. This was an abandoned area due to some attacks, but he has rebuilt from ruins in the time he’s been here. He’s been here 20 years, but the city has only been built back up for about 10.

We find out that Urmino DeSalvo, the town castellan, frequents a restaurant called Mazetti’s. We work on setting up a meeting with him. Jean goes to the restaurant and buys DeSalvo a flagon of wine. He explains who we are and how we want to setup trade routes, the issues with Gilemet, etc. Jean passes DeSalvo a map that he made of the region and tells him that he can give it to Giovanni. The man agrees and heads out.

Meanwhile, nearby in the “Steps” (the rich neighborhood) Vedasi sees a door in  a nearby tree and lets Maruviel know about it. It says Phandyth’s Chalice on the door. Inside they find a tavern that is of wood elf design. An elf maid is here and she says that no one has been here in over 90 days. They enjoy the drink and she says that she has rooms to let if they are interested. Vedasi and Maruviel feel at peace here and decide that they will stay.

Session 19 – Smokin’ Pope with a Junk Musket

We continue on through the Black Crags, moving west toward the Desert of Spectres. We arrive at Din Borim, an abandoned dwarven stronghold. The front of it is a giant stone dwarven face with a drawbridge. It is currently sealed shut.

We search around for the mechanism to get inside but it takes a very long time. Brokk finally finds it, which is a small rock to push and there is a loud grinding sound as the dwarven face slides into the ground to reveal the opening.

We head inside and it features the standard dwarven architecture, and it smells terrible here. There braziers along the walls and empty weapon racks. Apparently nothing has come through here in quite some time. At the far end there is another stone door.

We head through the door and see flickering light like firelight up ahead. Vedasi heads up the stairs to take a look and he sees a room with a large table in the center. Two huge creatures are here, and they look like centaurs with the torso of a dwarf instead of a human on them.

Tobruk and Brokk realize that these things are called Bull Centaurs, they are a form of Chaos Dwarf. We defeat them after a brief combat and check the room. Jean looks at some of the tapestries and sees that the ones honoring the god Grugny have been defaced.

We head through the rest of the lair and see a kitchen, barracks, a forge, and finally a bedroom. Here we see a box here labeled “Feldbar  Grimhammer, Forgemaster of Din Borim.” Inside are mastercraft forging tools. Clearly this dwarf was a runemaster.

Jean finds a loose brick and behind it is a key. There is a metal door nearby that the key opens and this is the armory. Some weapons are in here which we take. A switch opens and a breastplate of gromril (star-metal) is revealed. A rune is inscribed on it, which says “fortitude.” Brokk dons the armor which increases his toughness quite a bit.

We continue looking through the lair and find a barracks with three beds that were slept in, so we think that we have gotten all of them. We head back to the main room and suddenly see the tapestries moving. From behind them pop out four chaos dwarves — clearly we didn’t think to look behind! Some of them have blunderbuses. One runs up and fires off toward everyone except Tobruk. A rain of metal shards and old chicken bones strike them but no one is seriously injured.

Brokk comes forward and throws a bola at the man which wraps him up. Another dwarf comes out of the tapestry and he is wearing a pointy hat like the pope. He starts muttering a spell but it backfires on him.

After defeating the dwarves, we check out the space where they came out of. It is a secret door and there is a huge amount of treasure here. There are 14,000 gold crowns and gems worth between 22-25,000 crowns. We also find three weapons – a hammer of returning, a bow and a sword.

Decked out in our new vestments, we spend the night in the stronghold.

Session 18 – Meatballs & Manticores

Jean says, “Now that we know Sasha Gillemet is really just a thug, it is unlikely we will be able to work with her. We may have bought a month from my gift of a map, but it is just a matter of time until she comes looking for the dagger and the mask. As for Hauptner, since he is in bed with her, we will probably also have a difficult time convincing him to help us. That leaves Giovanni. If you look at the map you will see that Gillemet controls all of the most direct routes south, both by river and by road.

“We will probably not be able to sneak by her to get to Giovanni if we go that way. However her forces are not well organized. It is unlikely that she has much control of the western part of her lands, once you get away from the roads and inns. If we can find and chart a path through the Black Crags we can bypass her stranglehold on the region.” He traces the dotted line on the map.

“This could have large trade implications for Giovanni, and is the reason we came to the Border Princes in the first place. For the dwarves, we may find some of your kin in the Crags, or at least some green skins and giants to slay. And for the elves, what better way to see more of nature. Once we discover it, we would not be able to protect or improve the way by ourselves. But if Giovanni is looking for more trade, and is worried about the threat to his north, then he may help us with the manpower to do that. What do you say?”

We complete the planning for our trip to see Giovanni. We will circumvent Sasha’s lands (and patrols) by going to the west, but we will visit the dwarves first to get our armor.

We head south to the Crossed Lances and announce our intent to leave the area and go to the east, to give any potential spies incorrect information. We gather supplies for the trip including food, tools, horses and a mule.

We set off to the east as we had told people, then turn south to go and visit the dwarves we had previously met and pick up our armor and weapons. After a few days we arrive there unmolested and let them know of our plan. The dwarves let us know that there is an abandoned dwarven keep in the mountains.

The next day we come across a group of hill people. We decide to approach them to see what they might know about the area. They speak Kislevite (Russian) and then switch to Tilian (Italian). Only Maruviel knows Tilian but he is able to converse with them. They say that no dwarves have been in the area for many years, but there is a keep about half a day’s march south and west of here. It has been abandoned for many years. He says that a few people have come through here recently, a few dwarves, but not many others.

We ask if we could stay around here for the evening and they point us to a spot which is a flat dry riverbed. They say that sometimes night goblins and bears come through here otherwise it is mostly safe.

After we start our camp, we notice a light off in the distance. It is a light moving up and down like a lantern. As they get closer we see four humans carrying torches and lanterns. They are all armed.

They approach and see us, then call out to ask who we are. They say that they are mercenaries who do business with Giovanni. Jean explains who we are and they decide to come and share the fire with us.

Vincenzio is the leader, along with Nunzio, Giancarlo and Antonio. They are friendly but a bit wary of us so they do not want to share much info on Giovanni except that he is fairly hands-off.

Suddenly Brokk hears a sound like the beating of wings. A giant winged creature with the head of a lion alights on top of a nearby standing stone. It is a manticore! It roars and flies down, impaling Nunzio. Brokk is petrified. The others take care of it with a few swipes.

Maruviel lets the rest of us know that the tail of the manticore is quite poisonous, and they are born of chaos so they are prone to other mutations. This one is fairly standard. The poison gland can be useful, however we don’t know how to find it. We decide to push it off the edge into the crevasse.

The next day we continue moving, saying farewell to Giovanni’s men.

Session 23 – Sno Cat No Go

GM: Paul
Players: John-Alex, Brad-Ian, Dusty-Matt and Paul-Meaghan(NPC)
Game Date: December 23, 2018
Originally published on: Published on: Aug 3, 2020 at 17:46

The morning started a bit stranger than most days lateley. The group in Genesee Depot welcomed in four new visitors. Two Talolan aliens and two humans of the Menomonee Nation. As is often the case with initial contact both sides apprehensively proceded with establishing a conversation. This was expidited by Alex and the other two Talolans who were communicating at the speed of thought. Alex began the introduction and everyone followed suit. In the new group there was Va Roln a female Talolan, KiSi a male Talolan, Hewitt “Huey” Lambert, and Dire “Mahwaew” Simonds.

The night before it was decided that the group would need the last snowmobile and sled from the Hub. The group radioed back to base to let them know. Dusty and Alissa Sharp volunteered to drive the snowmobile up in the morning to help. This left a couple hours for the group to get to know each other.

As Huey and Mahwaew removed their heavy coats Ian, as he does, looked them over with an assessing eye. Huey was short stature well spoken older man with long black hair containing streaks of silver. Ian noticed noticed a Greek letter Psi “Ψ” on his left inner forearm. Mahwaew was a tall man with green eyes and shoulder length black hair. This man had many tattoos on both arms but the one that stood out was the prominent display of the US Marine Corp on his right arm.

Ian keyed in on this and began a conversation with Mahwaew. Soon they were swapping service records and stories about their times in the service. Besides the war stories, it was discovered that Huey and Mahwaew were part of a pow-wow group that was supposed to perform at the Potowatomi Casino from Christmas to the New Year 2012. When it all hit the fan they stayed for a few days but then their leader Marcus thought it might be better for the group to make for his relatives place in Brookfield. They met up with his relatives where they stayed for awhile. Then, after meeting up with some other people, they all moved out to an area next to the Ironwood Golf Course north of Pewaukee.

Alex, Kisi and Va Roln had a similar exchange but it involved much more information about what each group was up to and it took only minutes via telepathic conversation.

By the end of the reminiscing the new visitors had extended an invitation to the Hub group to come up to their base. Ian decided that since they were over half way to where their new friends were located that it would only make sense to go now.

Dusty and Alissa showed up late morning. After sorting out who would be going were Alissa, Zerk, Kira and Kira’s crew hopped on two of the snowmobiles and headed back to the Hub. Everyone else hopped on the remaining snowmobile and sled (large pull behind sled) and the Sno Cat the other group had been traveling in.

The north bound group was making good time toward the Ironwood golf course north of Pewaukee. They were just about to I94 when the Sno Cat cut through the side ditch to get around a long past multi car pile up in the an intersection. As a result of doing this the Sno Cat suddenly came to a shuddering stop. The crew on the snowmobiles pulled up along side. There was obviously something wrong with the Sno Cat. As they looked it over they saw that the Sno Cat had picked up some barbed wiring which was attached to a metal post. The wire had wrapped around the tracks drive mechanism and the post had been hurled against a support which broke and disabled that drive mechanism.

This was fixable but they would need parts and hopefully a welder or torch. Ian and Dusty had both recalled that there was an auto parts store about a mile or two east of their location. The Hub group volunteered to get the parts since Ian seemed to know what they need and the Ironwood group would work at prepping the machine. Though it was earlier afternoon both groups worked with haste not wanting to be caught in the sub zero outdoors once night fell.

The Hub team made good time and were made it to the AutoZone parts store in about 20 minutes. The group cautiously stopped their easily noticed (i.e. loud) snowmobile about a block from their objective and slogged the rest of the way through the deep snow.

The AutoZone was mostly intact. A few of the windows and the glass doors had been broken the brick building looked solid. The four made their way to the building and proceeded to view in to the dark store from the windows. Dusty, his two dogs went in to the left while Ian went to the right and Meaghan made her way to the middle isles. Alex hung back by the doors. Everyone checked the isles looking for useful items – tools, an acetylene torch, parts, etc. Ian had made his way to the back isle when he pulled out a flashlight and shined it back to the farthest opposite corner of the store. This startled a large creature that had been nesting there.

Upon seeing the creature Ian and Meaghan began firing at it. Dusty looked to dive behind the service counter with his dogs. The large creature which looked like a cross between an 18 foot crocodile and a polar bear hastily clawed its way over the racks and down the isle toward Ian. Ian and Meaghan continued to fire at it while it took a swipe at Ian. Alex put a barrier up between Ian and the creature just in time to prevent Ian from being sliced in two.

Dusty, who was now behind the counter, quickly looked for the items that they needed. He figured if they just grabbed what they needed they could all get out of there and leave to the beast to its home.

With the barrier up and only large enough to block most of the area the beast was like a cat pawing at a mouse under a door. Though Ian did take a wound in doing so, the space gave Ian the ability to duck around it and blast it with his shotgun. After a couple rounds of that Ian was able to hit it enough times and eventually blast one of its limbs off. That was enough to take it down.

Once it was confirmed that the creature was down the group tended to Ian’s wound and then continued to search for the needed equipment. Dusty had found a lot of great supplies but it was Ian who found the acetylene torch. Of course it was in the isle that Ian had killed the beast. The group grabbed all that they could carry and made their way back to the snowmobile and sled.

After another 20 minute ride back to the other group they were set to begin fixing the Sno Cat. The Sno Cat was all set to be repaired having had a set of blocks placed under it to hold it up. Mahwaew expertly grabbed the torch and began cutting the barbed wired and post free. A length of steel that Dusty found in the AutoZone was used to weld the broken support arm back together. Va Roln provided the workers with environmental protection which really sped things along. In less than a half an hour the vehicle was operational and the group continued on their way.

After an hour and a half of careful driving the group arrived at the Ironwood complex.

Session 22b – Alone in the Wilderness

GM: Paul
Players: Bill-Chet
Game Date: April – December 2018

When winter became manageable April of 2018, Chet Orlowski had enough of his isolation. The long, hard winter had gotten to him and he decided it was time to leave his retreat north of Merrill. He packed as much gear as he could on his two horses and began making his way southeast. He had relative in the Menomonee Falls and Mequon area so that seemed like a good destination. He had a solid 5 months of travel time which seemed reasonable for that distance.

By the beginning of June he had made it about 10 miles southeast of Plainfield. It was a beautiful sunlit morning. The light glistened off the dew covered grass field that he was crossing. About half way across the 40 acre field Chet noticed that his horse was experiencing some distress. He reined up and suddenly the horse faltered and fell over. Chet was able to roll off the horse in time not to be pinned under it. He stood and brushed himself off just in time to see his second horse fall.

He rushed to the horses and looked them over. He could see that they had small paper cut nicks on their legs. He also noticed that there was a slime on them. That was not dew on the grass. He retrieved a bottle of whiskey from his belonging and proceeded to wash off the slime. Chet too began to feel woozy. He grabbed his go bag and rifle to try to make a dash for the edge of the field. When he stood up from grabbing his gear the toxin hit him like a train. He passed out on top of the horse.

As Chet faded in and out of consciousness he thought he saw someone on the edge of the field.

Brief consciousness again; all he could see was sky. He was being carried in a wheel barrow or wagon.

______

Bryna had been out on her usual walk around the farmstead when she noticed some fool in the middle of the dew-grass field. She quickly ran to get her hip waders, raincoat, rubber barn glove and face protection on. After ensuring the duct tape had all the seams sealed, she grabbed the wheel barrow and hastily made for the person in the field.

It was not a good scene. Two horse down and one man. The man and one horse were responsive. She took two epidural pens and injected the responsive horse. Then she quickly loaded the man into the wheel barrow and made her way back to the house as fast as she could. She was glad to see that he responsively swallowed the herbal tonic mixed with antihistamines that she kept on hand. She stripped him down and washed him off. Then she applied another herbal paste to his legs, arms and face. Given that it was a warm day she left him lying there as she put her gear back on to try to save the horses.

When Bryna got back to he horse the one horse was definitely beyond saving. The other horse she duct taped trash bags to his legs and was able to coax it back to standing. She led the dazed horse back to the farm where she, once again, performed the same ritual she had done on the man.

She hauled the man back into the house and put him to bed where he stayed sleeping for 4 days.

_______

When Chet awoke he could hear someone in the kitchen. Every joint in his body felt like it had been hit with a hammer and his nerves were on fire. It took all of his effort just to sit up. He could see his cloths on the dresser next to him. He tried to stand to dress himself but that was not happening. Instead he just called out to the person in in the kitchen. Bryna, a nice looking woman in 40s or 50s, walked over and stated “It is good to see you up and around”. As they talked Bryna explained that it would probably be a couple weeks before he was full strength and ready to travel.

As Chet recovered he got to know Bryna. By the time he was full strength they had talked about and agreed to move on together. Bryna was also tired of the isolation and Chet seemed like a good person.

The last week of June the two packed their provisions and belongings onto 4 horses and began to make their way for southeastern Wisconsin.

The trip was slower than they had anticipated and by mid September they were about 20 miles northwest of Hartland. They thought it best not to push their luck and they began scouting for a home they could winter over in.

Eventually they found a great house. It had one of those giant fireplaces with a cooking swing arm already in place. The two spent the next couple weeks gather wood, food, and scavenging supplies that they would need for the long winter.

In the early hours of December 6th Chet and Bryna awoke to a fire in front of the fireplace. An ember must have popped over the safety screen and landed on the floor starting the rug on fire. The fire was already beyond a manageable state. They could try to fight it and chance loosing their gear or they could just grab their gear and get out safely. They chose to get out.

Hartland was only 20 miles away and they could easily last for 7-10 days on the move. The deep snow was hard on the horse and they only made a few miles each day before finding a building they could use for shelter.

By the morning of December 11th they had made it all the way down highway 83 and were near highway 16. The winter silence was interrupted by a call for help. Bryna noticed a slight movement on the overpass in front of them. They plowed their way through the snow toward the calling girl as Chet readied his gun.

At first glance the two noticed a young woman dangling in her backpack by a piece of rebar. As they got off their horses and got a closer look they could see that there was also a young man who had fallen to highway 16 below and was impaled on a piece of rebar sticking out of a chunk of road that had fallen sometime before.

Blood covered the scene below and time was critical. Not able to use his horse to drag the woman up over the edge of the hole (due to the rebar and other sharp hazards) Chet positioned himself next to the hole and attempted to pull her up. He grabbed her backpack and pulled. She was just about to safety when her nylon backpack began to slip out of Chet’s snow covered gloves. Bryan seeing what was happening and grabbed the pack. This allowed Chet to get a better hold and they two pulled the young lady over onto the overpass.

Chet and Bryna then ran around and down the snowy embankment to the road below. The young man was bleeding out. After quick assessment they pulled him off the rebar and Bryna began to apply first aid. Chet could see she was having a hard time of it. As Bryna caught his look she said “What? This why I do herbs and acupuncture.”

Out of the corner of his eye Chet noticed movement. He looked east down highway 16 and saw 3 people on horses making haste toward them. They stopped about 200 feet away and called out. “Are you guys OK? Do you need any help?” Chet responded with “We could use whatever help you can give.” With that they began riding forward again.

When the new arrivals got the the overpass they hopped off their horses. The group was made up of two women and a man. The lead woman quickly slid off her horse and threw the reins to the man. She jogged over the the injured man and began pulling items out of first aid bag. She obviously knew what she was doing. She mentioned to Bryna that she had done good work but needed to do a couple of adjustments. After doing a bit of repacking of the wound the woman stapled it shut. “That should hold until we get him back to our base.”

On the ride back Chet and Bryan found out that the young man and woman were Lisa Sabre and Mark Leonard and the three on horse were Michelle Bacallao, Gracie-May Middleton, and Farid Sargsyan. They rode next to Gracie-May and she filled them in. Michelle was the group leader and a member of the Menominee Tribe. She and Farid had joined up with this group over a year ago. Then she dropped the SciFi on them. The base was actually set up by aliens. There are three species at the base. The Talolan, the M’ket, and the Cotyledian.

The group arrived at the base just after sundown. The base was built in the middle of the Ironwood golf course. You could see the complex by the rising moon and it was amazing.

Session 17 – En Flagrante

We arrive back to the keep and find that the guards are not on the battlements and the portcullis is up. We advance in, on our guard. We see a person strung up and dead, we recognize him as one of the workers from the Crossed Lances.

Heading inside, we see a wagon with supplies from the Crossed Lances on it. This may have been a “Trojan Horse” to let them gain access and then attack. We do not hear the sounds of battle, though. The kitchen has food that has gone cold and Sleeves is not there. The horses are fine.

Heading down to the jail, we see that Sleeves and Thomas are down here in a cell. We release them and they say that Geeves has gotten stranger with his behavior in the last few days, and has invited some people here. They were chanting and taking their clothes off. Thomas is completely catatonic. We mention to Sleeves that his stew is on the fire and he goes to check on it.

We head upstairs and on the stairwell we see Otto and Reinhardt. We hear an orgy going on behind them. They warn us that there is a sacred ritual going on and we can’t go in. Brokk says that he wants to go in but they aren’t buying it. They move to attack us and Vedasi tries to disable them. Jean shoots and arrow right through Otto’s eye, killing him instantly.

Brokk ascends the stairs and sees a disturbing scene of the orgy, and Geeves en flagrante with one of the barmaids from the Crossed Lances, but it doesn’t seem to be exactly him — his skin has a pinkish sheen and his tongue is elongated. He has a huge lobster claw where one hand should be, and goat’s legs. He reaches behind him without breaking stride and grabs a marionette. He manipulates it and causes Tobruk to attack Maruviel.

Geeves rears back and spits gobs of blue-green blood out of his mouth toward us. Tobruk is still charmed and starts attacking us. He finally snaps out of it and the elves and Jean light up Jeeves with arrow shots until he falls back, bleeding from both arms.

The villagers close in on us and start stabbing. We take a few of them out but there are too many. Brokk is stabbed in the leg and passes out on the floor, bleeding. The fight comes to an end and Jean tries to help Brokk but is not able to do anything. He is unconscious and breathing steadily.

Jean looks around and sees only three people that he recognizes; the rest must have been picked up on the road. We take the bodies out and burn them.

We go up into the tower bedroom and Geeves has redecorated there as well. A strange symbol is here, it is the symbol of Slanesh. His armor is discarded in a pile. Maruviel takes it. His backpack is here as well. It has some healing draughts, poultices, fey eyes, and someone’s actual eye.

Brokk tries one of the vials that says “Cure All” on it but it’s a spoiled potion and causes a strange condition for him. He decides to rest up.

The rest of the group buries the mask and the dagger that Geeves had in a branch off of our secret tunnel. And after cleaning up the keep, we plan on visiting Giovanni.