Game session on 29 December 2009
The party continues to advance down the darkened passage with their lamps fully lit and weapons at the ready. Clem spots movement up ahead, and as one, they drop to a crouch. Two Buggems show up further down the passage, weapons at the ready. This is no surprise encounter for anyone.
They cut loose with bolts – lots of bolts, but the Buggems are firing back too, with deadly effect. Albus squeezes the trigger of his assault rifle repeatedly and sends round and after round away but he keeps missing.
ML’s note: Doc Ben-g was rolling really badly for this encounter. He virtually went through the balance of one magazine for his AK with nothing much to show for it!
Finally, one of their insectoid adversaries drops. The other, sensing that the odds have dramatically shifted against him, begins backing off quickly, all the while pelting the party with bolts. He takes shelter at a nearby curve down the passageway he emerged from. From there, he holds off his attackers.
“Somebody take him down!!!”
ML’s note: I failed my morale check but only by one point, so it was a fighting retreat for the remaining Buggem. He took refuge in the curve up ahead and kept firing away till they took him down. However…
The last insectoid goes down, but not until he had started up a weird noisy keening scream which echoes throughout the tunnel complex. Zed, crouching fearfully in the rear rolls his eyes and mutters ominously.
“Now we’ve had it. Becha all that screaming’s gonna alert the whole nest to us now.”
It is eerily silent. Everyone is expecting trouble in a big way. Only the flickering light of Clem’s lantern fills the yawning darkness.
They hear a muffled thump beyond the curve of the passage, then many running alien feet. Then… silence.
“I don’t like the looks of this,” mutters Max Plissken, drawing sword and laser.
They round the corner, stepping over the last Buggem they killed. They see the passage go on a little distance more and then branch into a three-way split. It is deathly quiet. Albus and Clem spot an object lying on the ground right in the center of the branching passages. From where they are, it looks like a silver- colored backpack of average size.
ML’s note: None of my players really could make sense of this so they got into bickering and a lot of speculation. After some arguments, they just decided to walk up to it (as a group!) and have the point-men poke the silver bundle with a stick.
After a hurried discussion, the party marches forward until they are only ten feet away from the silver bundle on the floor – whereupon without any warning there is blinding flash and deafening WHA-BOOOOM!!!
ML’s note: The trap really got them bad. This was one of the last encounters in the mini-adventure contained in the module. Unbeknownst to the group, the Master Buggem and his troops got wind of the party’s foray and decided to take proactive steps in countering them. The silver bundle was, of course, a Satchel Charge Type B (p. 120, Mutant Future rules) which was deployed by the Master Buggem with a proximity detonator activated. I was just really surprised how careless everyone got and just waltzed off en masse towards the Satchel Charge!
The blast knocks everyone sprawling, destroying their lamps and blowing out their lights. The deafened, stunned adventurers have only moments to spare as the Buggems charge right out of a side passage, waving cold steel in anger.
Clem gets up and, while taking some hits from the assaulting Buggems starts dishing out some of it back with his Damage Turning mutation. Albus starts blasting away with deadly effect at close range with the AK. At this point, only Albus can see his targets with his Thermal Vision mutation. Zed, at the end of the column can also see in the dark but refuses to look up in fear, and instead concentrates fervently on lighting a torch. Along with poison-skin Clyde, two torches are lit and raised in the dark.
By now, fighting is close in and deadly – but suddenly, out of another side passage there is an impossibly painful flash, followed by the wash of a cyan actinic beam of energy that is fired and impacts upon Clem. The flash of arc-light shows another Buggem farther down the passage; this one smaller-seeming yet sneaky, aiming an oversized pistol-like artifact at Clem. Clem is badly burned but still in the fight, thanks to his Damage Turning power.
ML’s note: We had a slight dispute at this point as Henry’s interpretation of the rules (per pp. 28-29 of Mutant Future) was that Damage Turning any incoming damage to the origin of attack – which is what the rules say verbatim. My take on this was that the Damage Turning power happened only to melee or touch-based attacks. That said, I exercised ML’s fiat (a decidedly old-school concept my players have generally accepted) but ruled that for the purposes of this encounter, Clem’s Damage Turning ability may reflect the damage away like an energy shield (but did not affect the Buggem firer). I do admit that this was a less than satisfactory ruling but I felt that a compromise was in order as I did not find it fair to punish Henry for believing in good faith that his Damage Turning ability applied even to missile attacks. Anyone ever had a chance to use this mutation in his game?
At this point, Zed fails his Phobia attack and runs off for a combat round, his torch dropping to the ground and going out. The party carries the attack to the Buggems and Albus concentrates fire on Master Buggem- whereupon he is also singed badly by plasma pistol return fire. Zed re-rolls his Phobia and comes up with a berserk result. Together with everyone else, they swiftly cut down the Buggem drones and swamp the Master before it could deal more fiery ruin upon them. Soon, the fight is over and some healing from their stock of Ancient medicines is in order, considering how much damage they all took.
With the death of the Master Buggem and its retinue, the party carefully search out the rest of the caverns but only find one dying, bloated human who was left in a cavern warded by a trench of flaming coals. The cavern turns out to be the Buggems’ hatchery. Plissken, after crossing over the coals, finds the remains of adult Normals who tragically bear a resemblance to the children they rescued earlier. These, they sadly conclude, are the remains of Miko and Nica’s missing parents.
ML’s note: Henry kept missing his dexterity checks when leaping over the coals and burned his characters coming in. In disgust, he piled the dead bodies of the Normals on the coals as a gruesome bridge, much to the rest of the party’s dismay. I always knew those Muties were a pretty callous lot.
The rest of the time was spent clearing out the caverns and looting what remained of any useful items or relics to be found lying about.
ML’s note: I had a big laugh when the group chanced upon a herp egg chamber and one herp larvae in the process of climbing out of its egg stuck to the wall. In their eagerness to kill the herp, the front melee attackers kept getting hit by crossbow bolts fired by their buddies at the back (bad rolls in combination with bad tactics – shooting over your friends is not a good idea). What really amused me was that Clem got shot by Max Plissken who rolled a critical failure. The bolt turned out to be poisoned and Clem failed his saving throw. So much self-inflicted damage for so little returns. Maybe my players were just tired already.
The group finally cleared the caverns and returned to Jeffton. A hero’s welcome awaited them and rightfully, the goodwill of the village folk. Now, their group arsenal is steadily growing with the addition of the Mayor’s reward of a serviceable pump-action shotgun and a civilian-issue laser pistol.
ML's note: Sometime during the roleplaying session with the villagers in Jeffton, the party was asked about any remains of the children's deceased parents. I had a big laugh seeing everyone keep silent and look at the Muties Clem and Clyde who, without batting an eyelash promptly answered: "I'm afraid the bodies were, er- cremated."
Post game talk: This was our last game for 2009, being a few days from New Year’s day. I was happy to see that Nikos and the rest of the group finally grabbed up my hand-drawn hex map and started pointing at areas of interest for future games. I filed these all away with pleasant thoughts of future adventures just down the line. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll have more time to play with work and all.
Surprisingly, Henry convinced everyone to return to the Mine of the Brain Lashers they successfully completed sometime back. It appears they have not forgotten the operational Regeneration Tank which they had to leave behind in the Mine. Last thing I heard was that our group of intrepid wasteland warriors are gearing up for an extended land expedition to retrieve the Regen Tank back up north.
But then, that’s hopefully the subject for this Friday night’s game, and another story altogether.
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