Sunday, January 31, 2010

Episode Nine (part 1) - The Thin Red Line

Dramatis personae:

Spielmeister – Mutant Lord

Putanesca- Mutant Plant

Kyoshi – Mutant Human

Link Seyz – Android

Ratchet – Android

Mirage- Android

Marcus Truman- Pure Human

Max Plissken – Pure Human

Zed- Mutant Human

Albus- Mutant Human

Orua – Autistic Pure Human

Shai – Pure Human

Last session:

After hurriedly being picked up on Ratsputin’s air boat, the characters return to the Mine and are plunged in the thick of a ferocious assault by Captain Krat’s Panther mercenaries.

Our story:

The airboat descends swiftly into the crater. Everyone sees Rats scurrying about agitatedly below. Ratsputin skillfully sets the airboat down and steps out, nervously followed by the party. It is soon made clear from the Rat troopers that Captain Krat’s offensive has succeeded and the Panthers are almost within the Rat warrens of the Mine. Ratsputin sends off his Rat officers with terse commands and speaks to Shai earnestly, with his eyes a-gleaming.

“We have to hold off the Panthers from the cave entrance. We need time to organize a defense. This is why I flew out to collect your entire party – we need help holding the cave entrance up on the cliffside.”

Reluctantly, the party agrees to buy the Rats time.

Ratsputin, accompanied by his entourage of harassed Rats, as well as the adventurers, exit from the crater into a narrow pathway hanging from the mountainside. They climb gingerly downwards until they arrive at a familiar cave entrance. Ratchet, Mirage and Shai immediately recognize their surroundings – as they are back to where they first made contact with the Rats. Zed, Marcus and Max confirm that they have been here before: as this is the secret entrance they discovered into the Mine of the Brain Lashers .

Everywhere, the rumbling sound of artillery can be ominously heard.
Bloody and disheveled Rats rush to and fro from the cave. Ratsputin and his officers try to get things organized. Mirage sees a line of scrawny Rats shuffling forward towards an officer standing beside a pile of weapons. Every other Rat gets a rifle thrust at him and a handful of ammo. The next one in line gets a handful of ammo and an unsheathed bayonet. As the line moves on, the officer repeats a shouted litany, which, to Mirage, sounds like this:

“Every other Rat gets a rifle. When the one with the rifle gets killed, the Rat following him picks up the rifle and shoots!”

“This doesn’t look good,” mutters Max darkly. Ratchet and Mirage can only grimly nod in agreement.

The Rats, with their ears hanging limply and tails dragging heavily behind them, are bullied by Ratsputin down the trail leading away from the cave. They disappear from sight around a wooded bend.

“Here,” says Ratsputin urgently. “You’ll have to hold the line here and by the Great Mikhii- don’t let them get into the cave!” With that, he returns to the trail leading to the sky boat hangar taking Putanesca and Kyoshi with him.

ML’s note: After conferring with my players, we agreed to take Matt and Prin’s characters out of play first as they were still unfortunately delayed due to car trouble.

Ahead of the group is a low wall of rocks which the Rats appeared to have set up earlier in an attempt to fortify the area. After a hurried conference, Shai and Max direct everyone to the wall which, at least, gives them partial cover from frontal attacks. Everyone has managed to pick up a rifle from the weapons and ammo left behind by the Rats. Unfortunately, the rifles come in various calibers and makes – and ammo is in short supply.

ML’s note: To be exact, I rolled for what they managed to scrounge up and came up with six single-shot lever actions and two magazine-fed semi-automatic battle rifles. Antique equivalents (to borrow a Classic Traveller term) of these guns were Martini-Henry rifles and M14s, respectively. Curiously, Henry managed to identify the single shooters ahead of everyone else – could it be due to the rifles’ name? One thing that really appeals to me in Mutant Future is the randomness factor – I tend to do a lot of dice-rolling to come up with something when I’m not sure what I should give the players. The sheer unpredictability of the random rolls is really part of the fun!

They didn’t have long to wait. After a while, it seemed that all the firing stopped. It was deathly quiet- like the calm before the storm.

Link Seyz angrily broke the silence by alerting the group to Orua, who wandered off during the lull, towards the cave entrance. Then, it was too late for the Android to lead River back to the wall as the Panthers began their attack.

They came at them at a run – black Panthers roaring their blood thirsty cries with claws and fangs bared for the kill. Leading them is a four- armed Leopard officer in a steel cuirass. Brandishing a sword-like weapon with a glowing blade of coruscating energy, the mutant officer can be seen chivvying his cats forward.

“Let ‘em have it!” cried Shai, firing away with his M14.

The group cut loose with rifle fire, felling a few from the attackers’ front rank. Despite this, the assault continues ferociously as the cats appear to be caught up in a blood-mad frenzy. Soon, they close the distance half-way to the wall, firing from the hip. Shai curses as his M14 jams up. Then, Link Seyz’s M14 is also out of action. Much to Ratchet’s consternation, his modified musket also fails to fire.

ML’s note: For some reason, my players came up with an inordinate number of natural ‘1’ die rolls, indicating a ‘fumble’ on an attack roll. This, I translated into a high incidence of weapon malfunctions. Who knows, maybe the Rats got gypped into accepting a batch of bad ammo and powder! It was also at this point when I managed to score the needed die roll allowing Orua to slip into ‘Serenity -savant’ mode for 4 melee rounds.

With the nearest attackers only a dozen feet from the defenses, Orua picks up a rifle and blasts the nearest Cat off its paws. She drops the empty gun and picks up another, blasting way at the next closest target.

ML’s note: Patton, who was playing Mika’s character first, seemed to hold true to the adage that the best reload is another loaded gun!

Then, the Cats are reinforced. The group hears the thundering sound of hooves and are aghast to see Krat’s Jackalope Dragoons bounding forward to reinforce the attack. They count at least six Panthers in crimson jackets, strapped to ornate saddles, bounding into combat riding giant horned mutant rabbits, with lances couched.

ML’s note: The Jackalope Dragoons made a brief appearance in this episode, but now, they are the enemy.

The Jackalopes are nothing like any warsteed encountered by the adventurers thus far. They are astounded at the mutants’ prodigious leaps which carry them over the defensive wall and into their rear! Now, they have enemies at their front and behind.
With nothing else for it, they decide to let loose with all their firepower. Zed’s plasma pistol, two lasers, an auto-firing AK47 and Marcus Truman’s pump action shotgun are brought out and fired like there was no tomorrow- adding their weight to the fire being dished out by the Rats’ rifles. To these are added the mutations of the party’s mutants and androids- but the enemy keeps coming on!

Shai grabs Max’s rucksack carrying the blocks of C4 previously issued by Captain Krat HERE. Max confirms there are no detonators, whereupon Shai hurls it with all his strength at the oncoming attackers.

“Blast it with the plasma!” yells Shai at Zed, hoping that the electrical discharge riding along the plasma bolt detonates the lot.

Zed takes careful aim at Shai’s improvised demo charge which is now sitting in the midst of a wave of roaring Cats. He fires, and, although his shot hits true, merely vaporizes Max’s rucksack and its contents.

“Fakes!” screams Shai with consternation. “The bloody felines passed us a bunch of fakes!”

ML’s note: Sooner or later, my players were bound to find out that the good Captain seemed to have his own ideas by passing off some disguised play-dough on them. Funny thing is they never even bothered to ask me about blasting caps or detonators that should have come with the C4. Maybe that should have alerted them to the true nature of the goodies.

“Try this, then!” yells Max, hurling the ancient, seemingly unreliable hand grenade salvaged from the Buggem’s lair. Although dangerously unreliable, the frag goes off with a blast, downing a Jackalope and two Panther infantry.

By now, fighting is at deadly close quarters but the group is still fighting from protected positions. Again and again, the concentrated fire of the energy weapons blow away many of the dragoons from their rabbitoid chargers. In the ensuing melee, Shai breaks ranks and leaps from the stone wall straight at the four-armed mutant Leopard officer. So swift was his attack that the mutant is surprised, providing Shai and opening for a well-aimed vicious cut. Moments later, standing over the headless corpse of the four-armed mutant, Shai bends to retrieve the officer’s Warp Field Sword.

So desperate is the fight that both Link Seyz and Ratchet’s built-in mutations kick in and allow them to perform prodigious feats of strength. Both Androids grapple with the bull-sized Jackalopes and bring these down crashing to the ground.

ML’s note: Link Seyz and Ratchet respectively called up their Ability Boost and Body Adjustment mutations allowing them to doublet their already considerable Strength scores, whereupon they started wrestling with the Jackalopes.

However, the Cats have a final card to play. The Dragoons’ commander had been, until now, content with laying down harassing fire with his automatic shotgun. Now, she was revealed to have a further mutation – Plane Shift! She begins concentrating, and in the midst of the melee, opens a hazy, shifting tear in the fabric of reality.

ML’s note: Quite frankly, I left the Planes of Existence known by the mutant Panther blank when I pre-generated this NPC. I then rolled on Kid Monster’s excellent 75 Random Plane Shift Destinations found at the Goblinoid Games' Mutant Future Forums in July 2009, which I had been saving up for just the right occasion. Rolling on a d100, I randomly came up with this result:

“92: Nurr’Gar’Rak’Ki (Alien Dimension) A Brain Lasher homeworld. The surface of this (possibly once Earth-like) world is a blasted, desolate waste of jagged black glass, roamed by Lasher tripods and nasty alien monsters. Underneath, the planet is riddled with millions of miles of tunnels, which at their deepest levels lead to one of the vast and terrifying cities from which these horrors rule their plane-spanning empire“

Imagine my surprise at arriving at this result. Considering that the cave entrance being defended by my players, was, until recently, the Mine of the Brain Lashers, the opening of a trans-planar gateway to the homeworld of the Brain Lashers, was an awesome coincidence! As you could imagine, the resultant maniacal cackle of the Mutant Lord raised the hackles of not a few of my blissfully ignorant players. Armed with this most intriguing result, I proceeded to run with the ball…

My thanks goes out to Kid Monster for such a wonderful and useful random table. Using this actually served to push the fun factor of the game even higher!

Ratchet and Mirage are the first to notice the horrible things lurking on the other end of the planar gate. Another well-aimed plasma bolt blasts away the mutant Panther but her gateway remains open. Orua, lapsing back to autistic mode, is fascinated by the alien vistas on the other side of the gate and walks towards the undulating tentacle-faced humanoids who beckon to her.

With a scream of horror, Link Seyz grabs Orua and pulls her back swiftly, while their companions open up with a fusillade of beams, bolts and bullets at the Brain Lashers closing in from the other side of the gate. Two of the alien abominations are felled by their fire, but the third is concentrating on a mental attack. Luckily, it is killed by a plasma bolt from Zed’s weapon which is critically running out of juice.

ML’s note: Now it can be told – the third Brain Lasher had that rare (5%) variety of the Ancestral Form mutation which allows it to regress targets down the evolutionary path. Again, I rolled on the spot for the three critters and the last came up with a “05” on a d100 roll. What a night of fantastic dice rolling this proved to be! Lucky thing they plasma-ed it when they did – it was altogether possible that one of the humans or mutant humans could have been reverted to a dim-witted Homo Erectus if that last Brain Lasher lived to get off a mental attack…

At this, the tear in the fabric of space-time snaps shut!

The attackers broke off their assault shortly thereafter, having sustained horrendous casualties. Our heroes did not pursue, being content to hold the line at the stone wall. They suddenly found themselves standing in a blood-stained field littered with bodies of their slain foes. Many are wounded but none so grievously as Ratchet who suffered quite a large loss of 6 hit dice of damage.

Of their Rat allies, they see nothing. The firing has just about stopped but they feel that their foes are regrouping somewhere nearby for another push. They also notice that ominously, smoke has begun to rise from the cave entrance they were detailed to defend. Echoes of gunfire and explosions could also be heard from within.

Now, it appears that the Cats have broken through to the lower levels of the Mine through another entrance.


  1. Thanks for the Game and awesome post :D
    Do we have a game this friday?

  2. Yes, we're on this Friday, barring any unforseen changes in plans. Same time and place. See you there buddy!