Olivia is a Guild Factor, deeply engaged in the day-to-day business of buying and selling artifacts in Nexus. One typical day (well, “typical” being a relative term when doing business within the Guild, within Nexus at that) she receives a letter requesting a meeting. The meeting is with a Guild Hierarch, Quellison, instead of Olivia’s superior Usaten. This is only slightly unusual, and of course Olivia wouldn’t pass up such an opportunity even if doing so weren’t considered a faux pas.
Arriving in the stately, well-trophied and dimly lit office, Olivia puts on her feminine wiles, rapidly winning the admiration of Quellison. Quellison speaks in a husky voice, dimly lit from behind through the window’s blinds, and steadily offers Olivia an offer she can’t refuse. A shipment of artifacts is due to arrive in a few weeks, and she is to ensure it comes into possession of the Guild through any subtlety required. It is in the far north, in a remote forest which has apparently been chosen for its forbidding nature. The artifacts are required for a project that is under development by the Guild, and her success will mean her inclusion in this project.
Olivia sets out and decides to fly north, far outstripping any pace she could take if she were accompanied by anyone or anything. She arrives several days early at the nearest trading town, lightly populated and without any imminent shipments. She rapidly gets to know the entire town, but the Guild contacts in the area have not heard of any incoming shipments, and also warn her that the coordinates she has been instructed to arrive at are deep in a forest range that a local creature protects. The only reports on the nature of this creature are that occasionally a giant silver-tattooed bear will break into the tavern and steal a cask of ale. Olivia identifies this “creature” as a Lunar who she should get under her thumb as quickly as possible.
Olivia flies into the woods to find this “guardian”, but the guardian finds her first. More accurately, the guardian’s owl, Bubo, finds her first, identifying a large flying creature approaching, and spying on it with his owlish senses while Mika, the forest guardian, watches from a distance. He is in his spirit shape of a giant Polar Bear, so he decides to walk out under its flight path. Olivia spots this polar bear and notes it is not in its native habitat, and so flies down to introduce herself. Mika responds by shifting into his human form and introducing himself as well. Olivia tries to get friendly with Mika, which succeeds rapidly, and soon Mika has built an intimacy for Olivia after some X-rated interactions.
On the day of the shipment, Olivia, Mika and Bubo are all flying over the valley searching for a caravan, or any sign of activity at all. Finally, first Bubo, then all of them can hear a rumbling that gets louder and louder, until cracks start to form in the ground. In a single catastrophic moment, a massive pipe fifty meters in diameter opens up from the ground, belching smoke and spraying fumes and fire everywhere. Out of this massive pipe crawls a massive eight-legged robot spider, covered in black pitch, made of metals and oils and soulsteel, and stomping on trees indiscriminately as it escapes its pipe. A second figure crawls out behind it, dwarfed by comparison, a humanoid wearing black metal and carrying large obvious weapons including a shoulder-mounted cannon. The giant spider stops for a moment, creaking and groaning, and extrudes from its rear another humanoid, this one wearing blues and silvers. The monster then continues its indifferent rampage through the forest, infuriating Mika, who lands directly in front of it and issues a Lunar challenge. Olivia, meanwhile, tries to call out to the humanoids to stop.
The monstrosity attacks first, taking one step very close to Mika and battering him slightly with its huge leg. Mika retaliates by leaping up and smashing its face with his Moonsilver Grand Goremaul, which barely causes it to flinch. Olivia calls on the two strangers to stop in every language she knows, but the black-clad figure responds in Old Realm, “Please wait, citizen, this monstrosity must be purified.” The black-clad figure, Dutifully Striking Blade, then fires a blast of essence from its shoulder cannon, causing it to hesitate from the concussive blast. The blue-clad figure, Mithril the Electromaster Accelerator, then extrudes and activates a strange blue-glowing blade and the flight mode of his armor. He then daringly attempts to slice at five of the monster’s legs, but after one failure and two successes, manages to miff the fourth completely and leaves the blade embedded in its leg while going tumbling and spinning into a tree.
Recognizing its damage, the monster hunkers down to the ground and attempts to kill Mika with a double attack, of which the second one connects for additional damage. Blade fires another concussive blast and then starts a charging sprint, while Mithril launches a lightning bolt at the monster for additional damage. Mika then leaps up and plows his massive Goremaul into the monster’s face, destroying it utterly and leaving the rest of the body twitching. Olivia lands in front of him and projects a wall of force to shield him, but the monster simply lies there twitching, so Mika goes around and begins yanking legs off one by one.
Blade activates her optical shroud and creeps around the massive dead gremlin, looking for any sort of entry hatch, but finds none. Mithril flies up to its top and carves a circular hole into it with his Beamklave, finding inside the vault he was trapped in until recently, now devoid of all the artifacts from the expo. After investigating around a bit, he determines the floor paneling is modular and has been moved very recently. He carves another hole through the floor and finds a tunnel has been bored into the ground. Mithril drops an electrical charge to see how far down it goes, and can tell it’s at least 30 feet deep and possibly deeper. He jumps back out of the vault, suspecting the artifacts have been taken down into the ground.
There’s a bit of a side issue that forms as the pattern spiders recognize an error in this story and rewrite Olivia’s bonus points so that she is fluent in many languages including all the ones the various party members speak, which of course she has been able to all along.
Olivia finds Mithril and tries to endear herself to him, but perhaps acts a bit too seductive for his tastes and he disregards her with a puff of smokescreen and activating his cloaking device. He then sidles up next to Blade, who he can see with his essence visor, and asks her if she is from Kamak as well, which she is. They scoot up a bit higher onto the dead gremlin and talk tactics for a bit, and Blade advocates for taking on these two strangers since they must know the area better. Mithril is reluctant since one of them seems a bit “chatty,” but sees the obvious benefit of having more intel. Blade drops the optical shroud and invites Olivia and her friend to join them in their pursuit of the gremlins. This produces some confusion but Olivia can tell an in when she sees one.
Mika is reluctant to go into a hole, away from his forest and to somewhere where he may be cramped, but Olivia turns and says “Pleeeease?” Mika grudgingly assents. The four of them head into the belly of the gremlin spider and examine the tunnel, which appears to have been bored into solid permafrost and rock by some kind of drill. Blade, eschewing subtlety, fires her cannon down the hole, and Olivia can estimate from the time that it’s about 60 feet deep. Blade then tries to jump in and slide down by holding her arms against the sides, but slips, and Olivia catches her. Olivia gives a friendly wink, which starts the process of winning Blade over.
The four of them (plus Bubo) make it to the bottom, and find the tunnel has led them into a cavern. They find abandoned at the end of the tunnel one of the artifacts from the expo, a portable collapsible adamant-tipped drill that has apparently started to break down due to the fact that it wasn’t really designed to drill through sixty feet of solid rock. Mithril stores it in his Technomorphic Integration Engine. This catches Olivia’s interest, and she asks what they are doing. Blade and Mithril stonewall her initial question so she rephrases to be less direct, merely observing that it seems these things were taken from them, to which they both agree.
As they peer into the cavern, Blade is finally struck by the obvious question: “Where are we?” Olivia replies innocently, “This is Creation.” Blade’s head explodes for quite some time processing this fact. This also leads to an excellent crack about the architects of “Creation” being really terrible ever since Autochthon left.
The cavern seems huge and is pitch-black, though the residual glow of the anima banners is lighting it well enough for everyones’ night vision. The cavern opens out into a massive slow-flowing underground aquifer and the number of routes around or through it appear endless. Mika has just the thing, however. When asked by Olivia, Mithril produces the drill again, and Mika smells it with his enhanced sense, smelling two distinct scents. One is poison and smoke and metal, the other is human. He decides to focus on the gremlin smell and activates Blood on the Wind. He is now capable of tracking this smell to the ends of the earth, and finds the scent takes off directly across open water of the underground river/lake. He casually swims into the water after the smell. Mithril absorbs his armor and swims after him, while Blade marches along the lake floor (since she doesn’t need to breathe) and Olivia and Bubo fly overhead. They proceed deep into pitch blackness in formation, following Mika’s nose.
To be continued…
Question for everyone: when did YOU figure out what the “shipment” was going to be? 😀
Most Badass Moment Candidates:
- Mithril’s attempt to sever five legs at once (though it didn’t really go as planned…)
- Mika’s massive final attack, rolling 18L damage for enough successes to finish the monster.
- Olivia’s rapid deduction that she has been sent here not to collect artifacts but to die.
Funniest Moment Candidates:
- Several times Alejo just started quoting Iron Man 3, feel free to ignore him when he does that…
- Alejo: “Jason, are you aware that you get more than one dots worth of artifact for every dot you spend on it?” Jason: ” ….. O_O …. What??”
- Alejo: “Jason are you getting the shoulder mounted cannon?” Jason: “Yes, and that’s the ‘small’ one!”
- Alejo, to Louis’s character sheet several times: “What the HECK?”
- Jason: “I’m a Space Marine!”
- Louis: “I have determined for flavor that the silken armor is lingerie, but it still provides the same amount of protection!
- Someone: “So basically Jason’s playing War Machine?” Alejo: “It’s Soulsteel Patriot now. THAT’S WAY COOLER!”
- More than once this same exchange: Louis: “I do intend to seduce as many characters as necessary.” Jason: “I’m so glad I chose a female character.” Louis: “That won’t stop me!”
- Quellison: “I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse.” (Reactions were mixed, but I’m pretty sure most people saw it coming)
- Quellison: “There is an artifact shipment coming through that location.” Alchemical players: “….”
- Olivia’s attempts to get Mika to form an intimacy seem to work out just fine for everyone.
- DM: “Finally as the rumbling becomes almost deafening, cracks begin to appear on the ground below you.” Louis: “Oh god.”
- As a DM, I live for moments like when everyone realizes what the “shipment” actually is.
- Jason: “I bought sixteen dice… I don’t have enough to roll damage!”
- The Pattern Spiders rewriting Olivia’s character sheet when everyone realizes there are some serious linguistic barriers here.
- Keith: “I don’t have a lot of willpower.” Alejo: “Yes you do!” Keith: “Okay, I don’t have a lot of self-control, how about that.”
- Debbie: “I rolled 3 successes on Perception + Awareness. Am I at a penalty since I’m not there?”
- Taylor: “I deploy my Chemical Fog Generator from my palm and then my Cloaking Device.” DM: “Okay so essentially you’re saying ‘talk to the hand’ and then disappearing in a puff of smoke?” Taylor: “Yes.”
- Mithril: “Are you from Kamak? Your accent is—” Blade: “You lack tactics, you have revealed my position!” Taylor: “Wait I’m cloaked also!” Alejo: “Oh god the Dragon armor cloaking” Jason: “Wait so he’s invisible too? So I see him disappear in a puff of smoke and then I hear his voice next to me?” Alejo: “Yes.” Blade: “… Yes.”
- Mithril: “I don’t know, that one is a bit… chatty…“
- Jason: “But I have exoskeletal armor as well.” Alejo: “So both the ladies have armor under their armor? Hey Jason, is your under-armor also lingerie?”
- Louis: “No I’m not like stripping off the armor right away.”
- Taylor: “But flying types are weak against lightning!” Everyone else: “….”
- Mika: “I’m really reluctant to go in there.” Olivia: “Pleeease?” Alejo: “Haha Louis is getting ready to roll it!” Keith: “Do you bat your eyelashes at me?”
- Debbie, like five times: “Did you remember your wound penalty?”
- Taylor: “I consume the drill.” Louis: “Wait, you can eat artifacts??“
- Blade’s head asplodes from finding out she’s in Creation.
- Jason: “Do I have any concept of a “river”? DM: “Yes, you’ve seen tunnels filled with fluids, including water, and pipes, and standing pools. It’s this “rock” stuff you’ve never seen before. As far as you’re concerned, this is a huge, terribly disorganized, irregular pipe of water.” Someone: “That’s a new way of thinking about it.” Blade: “Man the architects of Creation really suck… guess it’s because Autochthon left!!”
- Louis: “Oh and if anyone here needs drugs, the Guild can help with that.” Alejo: “‘They said they could help.’ ‘They said they’d get you clean?’ ‘They said they’d get me more!'”
- Someone: “Mika misses Kami, and he doesn’t even know him yet!”
- Jason: “I sink like a giant metal bar of metal.”
- Jason: “So I’m trying to make sure I have everyone straight, the gentleman on the couch is Keith?” All: “Yes.” Jason: “And the gentleman playing the bear is?” All: “Keith!” Jason: “Oh!” Louis: “Basically the guy who looks like the bear is the one playing the bear.” *Keith waves*
And of course, a picture of the participants! Top L-R: DM, Keith, Louis; Bottom L-R: Debbie, Jason, Taylor