We played Gamma Terra on Sunday, heading off to hit the last of the "Unknown" markers on our area map.
"Barbie" - demo/EOD
"Fatbox" - demo/EOD
"Hillbilly" - medical specialist
"Love Handles" - demo/EOD
"Oinker" - demo/EOD
"Short Bus" - computer programmer
"Caveman" - demo/EOD
"Momma's Boy" - computer programmer
"Princess" - cryptographer/sniper
We took about a week off between our Grand Island adventure and this one - we're rapidly hitting targets before the black snows come. Then we'll decide if we want to hunker down for the winter or venture outside of the snow area. Both have strong positives and some negatives as well.
Our last target of opportunity was Unknown #1, a drilling platform out in the great lakes that seems to be drilling up rare metals. On the way, though, Hillbilly insisted we stop at Grand Island to bury the dead Purists we found. We did so. The dead VIP, too. Respect the dead.
We left Softie there, and headed out in a high-tech inflatable raft onto the oil-like waters of Lake Whatever They Call It Now, toward Unknown #1. Short Bus was worried about sinking in his armor, so we strapped a inflatable raft to his back and rigged a pulley for him.
It took about 12 hours of paddling to reach our destination, with each of us taking shifts.
What we saw ahead was this:
(The image orients with the stem of the inverted T facing north.)
We could get a solid look at it with the Bunny Scope and with a TL10 spyglass that Hillbilly owns.
The west side was overgrown, badly so. It was patrolled by birds - actually, when we got closer, fish. We'd later learn those were fleshens and terls - the former flying mola molas and the second feathered barracuda. The south central section was guarded by some humanoid figures we'd later make out to be t-shirted bullpup-gun carrying humans, and the east section was patrolled by drones. That section flew a flag:
After some quick discussion, we decided the best way to go in was right to the guarded middle. We could board a ship then climb up a scaffolding to the top. The other way up was a crane in the fish-patrolled and deserted section. We'd have to bushwhack our way from there and it would seem hostile - and the environment might be very hostile.
So we headed right for the nearest container ship. We were spotted, and waved and saluted. The sentry was joined by two more figures. We tied up our boat at the container ship, which rode very low in the oily water. We climbed up onto it and found it was full of dirt - it had been turned into a farm. We climbed up the scaffolding to the top.
There we were greeted by the three we spotted. They had 20th Homeland tattoos but we couldn't see any Purist tattoos. We saluted and they saluted back. Their leader, Major Loeb, wanted to know what the hell we were and where we came from. We said, "20th Homeland, Van Buren Bunker." He was suitably impressed. He was 20th Homeland, 5th generation. His companions included a green-skinned woman named Diedre. (I said, "She's from Orion. That's hot." Fatbox's player agreed that's how it goes.) We had a chat with them. They said they weren't Purists but were from the east. Er, Purist territory.
We spoke more and found they were actually former Purists. They had been there maybe 2 years? They were closed-mouthed about it but eventually it came out that there were four groups on the platform, which was called A2O - Advanced Alloys Operations - back in the day. They were:
- Purists, in the form of the Corvus Corporation, the science arm of the Purists. They have a suit of LEONIDAS power armor but it's in bad condition, and isn't radiation sealed. They need the Kaskium-269 for Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Station (NPS). They expected relief but it hadn't come.
- these Purist outcasts, who had become "contaminated."
- black-robed white-skinned mutants, who have unknown motives and seem non-hostile to the outcasts but hostility to the Purists.
- Frogmen over by the drilling cylinder called "the Pit."
Loeb was really reluctant to give us information. He'd come around later, but he didn't tell us a lot that we'd have to find out on our own. It was pretty clear we'd need to do that.
But it was late when we arrived, and they nicely offered to let us bunk with them in the building they were in. It was an old medical building with 11 of the outcasts in it.
Fatbox started to be very friendly to the green-skinned woman. Hillbilly picked out the most attractive one - Lynne Ren - and went right for her. He wasn't subtle about it - I rolled a 7 on a default 12 Sex Appeal. She was game to chat Hillbilly right back up but wasn't that quick about deciding.
We had a nice meal of vegetables from their floating garden and fleshen flesh. It was pretty good.
We quickly concluded that we had the armored suit to get into "the Pit," and potentially could resolve this conflict.
The next morning, bright and early, we headed out. Oinker spied on them with his scope. He saw two, marked on their white faces with painted symbols. ("Post-Apocalypic Kiss" - the Kiss Army cannot be destroyed by the apocalypse!) He reported this to us. Hillbilly joked that he should shoot at them in a friendly way, mind you, to attract their attention. Fatbox said, "Standard greeting fire." He watched them slinging something towards the Purist area. That would turn out to be Kaskium-269.
We walked over and spoke to them. One was waiting to see us - Eleventyseven. He said they were warrior-priests of the Red Death aka Friends of Entropy. They had been brought to the rig - summoned - by a group called the Radiants. Those were the frogmen. They'd been summoned to fight the Purists, who wanted the "manna" down in the Pit that the Radiants worship. The Radiants wanted the conflict won without harming anyone, if possible. So the Red Death were attacking the Purists by throwing radioactive material at them, and slowly irradiating the platform, to contaminate them and force them into exile. The Red Death see themselves as a cancer to destroy the world. And they find that glorious.
We spoke to them for a bit. They were immune to radiation and - if we're willing to come to the Citadel of Greenbay and join them - we could become so, too.
Love Handles handled the negotiations to this point.
We headed to the frogmen next, having told the Red Death we might be able to resolve this conflict.
We told the frogmen the same - one of them, we'd been told, could speak some Ancient. We asked for him - a frogman named Fracker Bravo. We spoke to him. He was a real peace-loving hippie type who worshipped radiation. But he was friendly. Hillbilly told him we could end the war. We could get rid of the Purists - and we promised to try talking first. We would want some manna in return, though. He wasn't happy but that's how he's paying the Red Death, and so he was willing. But he offered metal, instead. He showed us some - a 40-pound lump of Kaskium. Hillbilly etched an "H" in it when FB told us we could keep it.
He let us see the Pit.
The Pit was an elevator down 20 miles. Halfway down is a Kaskium-269 storage area with the "manna." At the bottom were friendly metal monsters with lots of metal. They were "friendly." Okay.
We set up a morse code routine for Short Bus, who can't speak but can use radio in his armor. He went down 10 miles and checked out the radiation - lots of boxes of Kaskium-269, maybe 15-20? - and three open boxes.
He went down to the bottom. It was so hot he had to leave his gear behind. At the bottom it was over 200 degrees C. He met a six-legged mining robot standing in the middle of a bunch of tunnels sideways into the mantle. He asked its status.
"Standby. Doing crossword puzzles."
The robot had three full hoppers - one with osmium, one with Kaskium-269, one with Kaskium. Short Bus explored and found the tunnels had striations of non-mantle rock-material. What? He couldn't tell. He returned.
We went back to Loeb. On the way, we discussed our options.
The Purists needed to go. We could make a deal, Hillbilly suggested. Give them some of the Kaskium in return for them leaving and not coming back. But first we'd just offer them a way home, with their gear but nothing else.
Still, this was sub-optimal for us. They'd leave with excellent gear - Loeb told us they'd enchanced their armor with Kaskium-alloy known as Permium(TM). And they'd know about us. Also something Hillbilly wished to avoid. We also wanted to avoid the Purists seizing Short Bus and his armor to allow them to mine.
We met back up with Loeb and told him we had a plan to end it all. They could come home with us. Or just hitch a ride, whatever. They'd get off. We wanted to talk to the Purists. If that failed, we'd kill the hardcore resisters.
We headed out towards them, after sending a concealed Oinker to watch the negotiations. Loeb told us about a sniper. Oinker spotted him, on the platform on the connecting bridge, and aimed at his face. Hillbilly said that if he said, "So, I guess that's it then" that Oinker should kill the sniper. It was combat time.
Hillbilly handed his max-area preset torc grenade to Short Bus to put in a holster in his armor. If they threatened to take us prisoner to seize his suit, he'd pull it out and say he'd set it off with zero delay and take the suit to his grave with him. Short Bus was onboard with this plan. Short Bus ran off to the Red Death to tell them to come if they heard gunfire, because we were ending it violently in that case.
We walked over, helmets off, MOPP gear off, etc. and weapons slung or carried casually. The sniper spotted us, and people came out to meet us - a guy in a badly battered LEONIDAS suit carrying a shield padded with pillows (to deflect those radiation grenades, I opined, correctly) and a gauss cannon on a back harness mount. We faced them and saluted. He saluted back, and eventually took off his head gear. Sgt. Tauruson was impressed that were were "O.G" 20th Homeland. We talked about going home. We're here to take you HOME. This mission can be over, Sergeant. We could make a deal. He wasn't ranked high enough, so he went to get the military commander.
He did, as we waited. He instructed us to take out magazines and rounds first. Some of us complied, but Fatbox quietly did not. It didn't matter.
We'd been warned that the commander was a "total hardass" named Major Geraldine Cho, who Hillbilly mentally tagged as Maragaret. The Notorious C.H.O. came out to talk. She was equally disarmed and was a tough-looking woman with acne scars.
We spoke again about home. Hillbilly said our offer was this:
- they go home, or elsewhere if they prefer.
- they take their personal gear and weapons and such.
- That's it.
Hillbilly made it clear that this was somewhat negotiable, but that we didn't have the transport for them to take Kaskium, etc. with them. The "hardass" wasn't. She wanted to go home. The science staff and mission was headed by a Dr. Culp, and he was hardcore Purist and a diehard. She said she'd take our offer and send a trusted person to Loeb to let us know how it went.
We parted and headed back.
We ate with Loeb and company, and left Oinker in position. It got dark.
Then it got friendly - Hillbilly made another pass at Lynne. I made Sex Appeal by 7, she rolled a 17 on her Will. And we were off.
Hours later, around 3:30 am, Oinker radio'ed that four Purists were heading our way. Four messengers?
No, four defectors. Lt. Ellen Colon, Neil Dunne, Sarah Ligari, and Major Cho. The sniper didn't notice them in the dark as he was looking out for Red Death folks.
Hillbilly came down from his room pulling his shirt on and asked them to disarm. They weren't willing. We didn't press it. Loeb trusted them, and Cho offered to have them held by Loeb at gunpoint. Bah. We just let them keep their guns. But they were it. The others wanted to finish the mission.
We told them we'd kill anyone who didn't surrender pretty thoroughly.
And that's pretty much what we did. We moved out right away. Hillbilly got his torc grenade back. We moved out in a wedge, with Short Bus in the middle. As we approached, Oinker shot the sniper in the unprotected face.
We advanced to the base of the platform. We started to shoot down the drones - half of them were armed drones, half spotters, so we shot down the armed ones. They were fragile and Short Bus saw them easily with his enhanced senses. Fatbox and Hillbilly shot them down.
The Red Death sent a couple of guys running up. Love Handles met them and accompanied them, protected by a forcefield generated by one. The other had a bow. The forcefield one had a backpack full of "manna." Great, suicide bomber with a nuclear weapon.
The LEONIDAS suited Sgt. Tauruson came out with his gauss gun. Oinker had been waiting for that. He put two rounds into it, wrecking it. Tauruson instead drew an oversized auto-pistol and ran towards us. He shot at the charging Red Death who passed up. Meanwhile, Barbie climbed up to the sniper roost. Someone on the helipad shot at him. He flipped them the middle finger without looking back and kept climbing ("I climb serpentine.")
Tauruson shot at the forcefield-protected Red Death and mostly bounced rounds off, but eventually killed the longbowman with gunfire and then ditched his empty pistol. He then killed the other one with a force sword of some kind. Short Bus was going to engage with his ninja-to, but then Hillbilly handed him Hoopslayer.
That was a good move.
Short Bus ran up and the two power armored guys fought in melee. Short Bus was hit with the sword, but his duralloy-coated shield bounced it. The LEONIDAS suit on his opponent, though, didn't stop Hoopslayer. In a series of attacks, Short Bus cut his chest apart and left him a bloody, dead mess in seconds.
Oinker kept up fire on two more, killing one and keeping the other pinned.
At this point, Hillbilly had gotten out his bullhorn and told them to surrender, it was over, give up and they wouldn't die, they'd get to go home. All true, if they had. Not on the same terms - "with me before Chicago" rules apply. Not stated, but true.
Barbie reached the sniper station and found his Barrett (!) He used it to shoot one of the two guys on the helipad shooting him. He killed him. The other shot back and some of his suppressing fire raked Barbie, wounding him. Barbie rolled over and red pen'ed himself, and then rolled back. When the gunfire died down, he popped up, sighted his target - out in a well-lit area, the fool - and killed him, too.
With those guys down, we stopped asking for surrender. Short Bus went ahead and killed the other two. We'd finished the combatants off.
The three scientists had locked themselves in the main building with a device called the gamma lathe - a tool to make Permium(TM) equipment. We'd been warned Dr. Culp was a true believer. He'd been contaminated from using the lathe, but saw that as a price he paid to help the cause.
The place was shielded with big blast doors, but not on the upper levels. Love Handles climbed up and smashed out a window. Hillbilly and Fatbox followed. We found the lobby, found the location of the lab (and found we couldn't open the doors from the lobby), and headed to the lab.
At the lab we found Dr. Lennin holding a gun on us, terrified and unable to fire. Hiding behind her was Dr. Vanessa Hodges. Dr. Culp was looking crafty and trying to do something, anything, with his computer console. We told them to disarm. They didn't. We gave them directions to lay down. They didn't.
Fatbox just walked up and took away her gun. "We're done here."
Culp surrendered, too, but Hillbilly didn't trust him. He took aim. Fatbox went to duct tape his hands. Culp lashed out with a vibrodagger!
And Hillbilly fire full auto into him. Nine rounds, six hit. He died. Dr. Hodges went catatonic.
We asked questions to Dr. Lennin. She said she'd never tell us anything. Okay. Hillbilly showed her his eyes. "Do you have a problem with this?" he said, and pointed at them. She was scared but seemed firm.
We brought them back and left them outside and went to talk to Cho and Loeb. They said Lennin was a true believer. Hodges we brought inside. Hillbilly went outside to talk to Dr. Lennin. He tried to reason with her but she kept saying she'd tell us nothing. Hillbilly made it clear this was her life on the line. She got stubborn.
So Hillbilly shot her in the face.
Ugh. Not where I wanted that to go.
We did some talking - the whole group of them will come with us and try our life. A post on that tomorrow, I think. The Red Death will leave, taking their dead with them - dead? Love Handles spoke to them. "They'll be fine." "Oh, you mean their souls will be fine." "No, they'd be up and around."
Turns out the Red Death can come back from the dead. A little weaker, sure, a little "smaller," but back. Wow.
We left it there - the hard-core Purists killed, peace restored. We had a bit meal of flying mola mola and we'll resolve the way off and the resolution by email. We need to manufacture some stuff for us, and decide how to leave it. Sadly, we probably need to disable the gamma lathe so the conflict doesn't re-start. We're not strong enough to garrison it.
We had an exchange by email during which Barbie's player mentioned how attractive Barbie was. The GM pointed out he wasn't. So Barbie's player invested 5 points in Attractive. Hah.
We rolled to level up - at least most of us, who had previous played a multiple of 5 sessions. IIRC Barbie rolled +2 Striking ST, Fatbox +1 IQ to bring him into a tie with Hillbilly at 13, Oinker and Hillbilly both got +1 HT. I can't recall what Love Handles got, if he in fact leveled up. With the +1 HT Hillbilly has HT 15 and Very Fit, which helped immensely in the session to follow.
So it turns out I'm the player who wants to know if there are any cute girls in the bar to hit on. Hey, Hillbilly probably didn't get any action the day he was frozen and it's been 155 days since then. The Restorationists weren't interested for some reason, so he was going to keep trying. Momma's Boy has his porn, but Hillbilly has a solid Sex Appeal default.
Omnium is actually a cycling race term.
Kaskium, I assume, is named for Tim Kask. We need some Wardium. It's bound to be really powerful but not enough to counter the DM's machinations.
We took turns as speakers today - Love Handles did some of it, we did some as a group, and Hillbilly took over in the end for the direct negotiations. I'm most interest, and my best, when I'm focused on a goal and negotiating. Hillbilly and Love Handles had some differences about the utility of white lies. Hillbilly prefers not to lie, so people believe his facts. Love Handles likes to spin things a little differently so we don't let on what we know until we've fished out some from the others. Interesting contrast I think. He's at his best just being conversational and asking for general information, in my opinion.
We used the map above as a handout. The GM didn't have this much clearer map ready. Honestly, it makes a big difference - seeing this I have a different idea of where I was. Less Zaxxon and more habitable platform.
When the LEONIDAS suit-wearing Purist readied his force sword and attacked the Red Death warrior-priests, I asked Fatbox's player for sound effects. "A Wilhem scream?" I said yes, but I meant a light saber effect. Oinker's player jumped in with that. So every time he hit a warrior-priest they played the sound effects. Woooosh. AAAAAAAH! Fatbox's player kept up the screams with each killed Purist combatant. We don't do MVP but they were MVP.
That's just one of the funny things in game. We had so, so many. Some of us - especially including me - just kept laughing really hard for big chunks of the session. "Standard greeting fire" was a classic Fatbox line - that player is the same one who came up with "Wizard Court" and "Wizard Jury Duty" in our DF campaign.
After the session, I thought of some ways we could have potentially turned or used Dr. Lenin. Ways we could have appealed to her, and made her convince herself that helping us really helped the Purists, too. They might not have worked, but it was late and I was in a rush so I just didn't think of them. Oh well. Great game. Very satisfying, even if Hillbilly ended up doing something I'd rather not have had Hillbilly do. I'd personally have felt as bad about it if I'd just handed her over to Fatbox, who'd cheerfully have cut her into pieces with his chainsword. Not a good way to end. At least it's a new beginning - we have our first new recruits!