Monday, June 11, 2012

SESSION VIII - Spacemen Zombies!


The secrets of the the obelisk are revealed, Lemon is paralyzed by the secrets of the universe while Huxley is haunted by his old life and ancient technology.  Finally great treasure is unearthed, but proves a dangerous burden rather than a boon.

Grimgrim – Fighting priest of the fierce God of Dooms, Monstcrom! (M) Cleric 1

Lemon Jackson – A wizard, who prefers to go without clothing, has strange yellow eyes and who tattoos himself with spells. (M) Magic User 1

Huxley McTeeth (Hux) – A gaucho with a past, clad in plains finery, possessed with in strength disproportionate to his years and small frame. (M) F1

“Eyestabs” Nell – A scary woman armed with many poison hat pins and a dead dwarf's crossbow(F) A1

Drusilla – Eleven lass of surpassing beauty(for a creepy eyed, fanged, and noseless monster), disturbingly unpleasant affect and taste for human babies - Pole arm and scimitar (F) Elf 1

The party again encamped in the shrine and reset their traps – expecting a counter attack by the cultists (and not realizing that the cultists were almost out of undead guards, scared and spending the night besieged by ghouls).

Grimgrim speaks to Jackal-mask when he appears and the god seems far less perturbed this time. He tells Grimgrim that his priest seems delayed, but to expect him in another day or two, though after the success of the day the party should have no problem with the remaining cultists, and if they kill them the next day his servants will reward them “beyond all imagining with riches from the ancients.” With a divine promise of wealth in mind the party gathers their equipment and quickly decamps.

Space Zombie - by Soren Bendt, 2010
In walking across the grounds the group is assailed by strange visions of ancient battle, the smell of ozone and burnt flesh are accompanied by explosions and the sounds of plasma discharges. Ghostly figures in fishbowl helmets dart through the fog just out of sight. 

The party is undeterred by these harmless phantoms and makes it to the smoke blacked steps. Bits of burnt zombie appear to have been scattered about and gnawed on in some kind of disgusting feast, but nothing moves. Inside the entry chamber things are even more messy, a strange corpse with blacked finger bones protruding from rotten hands lies on the floor surrounded by smashed skeletons and several splattered corpse fleas. The doors that the party left open are all closed and planks have been nailed across the door leading to the office.

The adventurers search carefully, and their caution is rewarded when Nell discovers that the door to the cloak room has a thin wire attached to it. After snipping the wire Hux kicks open the door and sees that the wire led to a wooden prop holding up a lit bowl of coals and that the floor has been covered in oil soaked rags. Lemon gingerly removes the coals and places the bowl in the vestibule while Nell checks the next door and finds it braced, but not apparently trapped. The band fears that Nell simply failed to detect something sinister, and even after listening at the door and hearing nothing (“well zombies waiting to jump us don't make any noise”) is afraid to press on.

Instead the party goes to the yet unexplored central doors and pries them open. The doors swing easily and reveal a deserted temple with a large central statute of Furter carved out of gilded wood newly installed. Flanking the crude statute of the top hat wearing zombie hand are the rest of the funeral gods done in much finer marble. Drag marks and old stains on the floor make it obvious that the funeral god's statutes have been pushed back from their original central positions into ones subservient to Furter. A green marble altar with a Godseye stands before the statutes, but it is inactive and not even Grimgrim wants to fiddle with it. 

Hux immediately begins trying to chip off the gold leaf, but is stopped by Grimgrim (“A foul God but still a God, desecrate not his image”) but more by the fact that the leaf is very thin. The party searches the room finding some cubes of valuable looking incense (26 cubes, worth 5 GP each) made of feasting tree resin.

There is a huge bronze door behind the altar, the group unanimously chooses not to open it due to the enormous number of protective sigils painted on it and large number of fetishes obscuring a disturbing relief of a giant fanged man slaughtering an army of Sasquatches.

Not sure where to go the party returns to the door beyond the coat room and throwing caution to the wind bashes it open. Huxley's shoulder bounces off, but when Huxley, Drusilla and Nell pick up a marble bench as a battering ram the door, even braced, gives - after a severe denting. The room is occupied by two cultists standing behind a line of three zombies and nine clockwork skeletons, three of whom are armed with crude sharpened bone javelins. The bench holders make a mighty effort to throw the bench at the zombies and it shatters crushing the lead attacker, damaging a skeleton and stopping the rest of  melee attacker's charge. Lemon takes a thrown spear to the gut and falls to the floor unconscious and bleeding while the other two spears clatter off Drusilla's armor. Rather than aid Lemon, Grimgrim raises his iron cross and attempts to drive off the undead. He is partially successful as a burst of holy black flames pushes back all but one skeleton. The two zombies plunge forward still and one smashes Nell to the ground, bleeding and broken. Huxley responds with a mighty stroke, decapitating a zombie. Drusilla is also filled with rage and using her scimitar manages to cut both arms off Nell's attacker before cleaving it's head in two. One acolyte begins gesturing at the cowering skeletons while the other rushes forward with the remaining skeleton to attack Hux. Grimgrim uses his divine magic on Nell and she surges to her feet as if struck by lightning, her fractured skull audibly crunching back together. Drusilla turns to help Lemon and pulls out the spear, staunching the bleeding with her thumb and the pain jolts the delicate Lemon to conciousness. Huxley seems to go berserk, and his wild strikes, while failing to connect, drive the attacking skeleton into the advancing cultist's path. Whatever the remaining cultist is doing to the turned skeletons it is ineffective.

Drusilla continues to give Lemon first aide and he stabilized but in a great deal of pain (2HP of his 3). Both are out of the battle.

The battle seems to stand still, Nell, Grim and Huxley glaring balefully as the skeleton and cultist untangle themselves. The other acolyte's gestures are unsuccessful still and only the clatter of bones and Lemon's cursing breaks the silence.
With a shout Huxley leaps forward and dispatches the startled acolyte while Grimgrim's flail smashes the skeleton down. The other cultist finally gets seven of the turned skeletons back into action and they turn to face the three active adventurers. Nell flings a poisoned hairpin at the cultist and strikes him in the throat, the poison rapidly reducing him to an ugly bloated greenish corpse. Grimgrim again attempt to drive off the charging skeletons and again Monstcroms power forces them to cower in the corner. The party takes several minute destroying the cowering skeletons by pelting them with broken bits of the marble bench and well placed hand-axe throws.

Angry and depleted of healing magic they drop a rope into the open pit followed by a burning chunk of the cultist's robe. Nothing moves below, but the light reflects off of piles of bones. The party is unaware, but the remain cultists are few, terrified, unaware that their advance guard has been annihilated while they desperately try to raise a few more zombies to stave what they now fear is an intrusion by hardened bounty killers in the service of a junta of mad gods led by Monstcrom.

After bandaging Lemon up as best they can, the party descends the rope to find themselves in a room filed with piles of bones, both stacked neatly and scattered. Generations of dead are represented by the cavernous ossuary's' stacked bones, but the party hurries through after spotting a door on the other side of the bones with a neat path leading to it. Another path branches to the back wall and the adventurers follow it to stand before a monumental plaque. Drusilla recognizes the strange writing on the plaque as a carved spell, reversed so that it can't be read directly from the stone, but able to create a rubbing that will be useable if it properly is flipped. Both her and lemon quickly copy it into their spell-books, Lemon vaguely understanding that the spell is more powerful than he can cast and has something to do with the dead.

The party presses on, ignoring the massive stacks of bones, and finds a thick wooden door plated with bronze. It's locked, but when Nell examines it she can tell that there is something wrong with the lock. Further examination and prodding determines that some kind of pneumatic dart trap will fire through the over-sized lock hole if the door is forced or picked. The band proceeds with the simple expedient of having Grimgrim hold his metal clad tower shield against the lock while Hux gives the door a hard kick. Sure enough, a burst of three darts fires out the key hole and embed themselves in the shield. All three appear coated with a red dust that Nell is able to identify as “poison, likely corpse dust. Nasty stuff, kills darn quick, rots the eyes and brain”. Whatever it is, Grimgrim washes the dust off his shield very carefully with some brandy and the darts are tossed into a corner. Additional bashing breaks the door open with no more trouble - except for a flight of three crude spears. The spear glance harmlessly off of Grimgrim, Hux and Drusilla's armor and the party sees four shadowy robbed figures retreat through a door at the end of a colonnaded hall.

The halls contains a series of carved pillars, and recently a number of hammocks have been strung between them. There are footlockers under a few of the hammocks, but the players do not stop to loot. When the characters reach the middle of the hall a trap is sprung. A net drops, catching Huxley and Grimgrim (Nell leaps free with her uncanny reflexes) and a pair of zombies with sparking neck bolts emerges from behind the pillars, one in front of the party and one behind. The door that the figures escaped through also begins to swing open. Everyone is stunned, but both zombies miss their swings. Grimgrim and Huxley begin to struggle free but are forced to cower as three more spears slam into their shields. Nell's reflexes again allow her to make an amazing shot, placing a crossbow bolt neatly into the eye of the forward zombie and extinguishing its unlife. Drusilla is equally vicious as her crescent lops off a zombie at the kness and the butt pulps its head, saving Lemon. The three skeletons at the end of the hall prepare to throw another set of spears, while Lemon draws his silver dagger.

A spear catches the distracted Huxley in the arm bruising him badly and leaving a nasty cut, but failing to penetrate his armor completely. The other two spears whiz past clattering among the pillars. Nell is unable to load her crossbow quickly enough to fire because she is dodging, but Lemon's dagger flies true and strikes the acolyte directing the skeletons in the thigh. The acolyteturns to leave, cursing, when Nell's crossbow bolt explodes the back of his skull. The three skeletons run forward as Drusilla steps to meet them with shield and Scimitar. Huxley and Grigrim are still tangled and seem to be making things worse with their wild slashes and futile struggles.

Nell puts another bolt in exactly the right place, and one more skeleton goes down. it's clockwork heart reduced to springs and cogs. Drusilla meets a Skeleton mid-charge and neatly slices through it's backbone, kicking its windmilling torso into the darkness. Lemon's dart misses the third skeleton, but it is shattered when Grimgrim, half out off the net and furious smashes it against a pillar with his shield

The party stops, exhausted form the combat, but certain they are almost at the end of their quest. Hux's cut is bandaged and soon the group forces their way through the remaining door. The adventurers enter the next room, finding a hastily tossed barracks, and catching a glimpse of a robbed figure darting from the door at the other end into a curtained alcove on one side. The party advances on the curtain, and pulls it aside to reveal an array of enemies prepared for battle. Three Franken-zombies, one with enchanted thread still dangling from its stitches, are flanked by two men in decorative bone splint armor with four cultists making a second line and a figure in robes kneeling before a statue of Furter in the rear.

There is no time for words as the party leaps to the attack! Lemon's sleep spell drops three of the cultists and one of the armored guards, while Drusilla sends a dart of moonlight that resembles a striking hawk towards the second. He is staggered long enough for Hux's saber strike to open his belly. Nell's crossbow bolt rips into the standing cultist in a burst of gore. Grimgrim fails to drive off the three zombies, a miasma from the icon of Furter interfering with Mostcrom's power. The zombies rush forward and flail ineffectually against Grimgrim and Huxley's armor.

Huxley slashes at a zombie cutting off it's left hand, Nell sends a poison hat pin at the kneeling figure, but it misses, and Lemon prepares his final bottle of oil. The kneeling figure rises, turns and pronounces a dread phrase. Grimgrim is paralyzed with visions of his own death and the essential loneliness of the experience of being a decaying corpse. Lemon is likewise held with contemplation of Das Ein, and Huxley barely shakes off the effects – his brutal battle rage pushing through all philosophical considerations.

The remaining party is frightfully effective, dropping the three zombies and closing on Furter's high preist, who raises his chin and readies a mace made of a petrified human hand caged in gleaming black steel. A thin circlet rest on his brow, it's evil sparkle distracting attackers with arcane flashes. The fanatic priest is clad in a fine suit of copper scales. Before the melee begins the priest intones “forgive them, though they abandon the gods above” and gestures at his mace. It responds by taking on an evil red glow and flexing its stone fingers.

Huxley lashes out with a brutal slash that would been mortal to a man not infused with divine rage, Drusilla's thrust is blocked by the priest's mace, but Nell puts a crossbow bolt into his calf. The priest drops to his knees, and touches Huxley while glaring into his eyes while stating “I curse you, feel the death off all you've slain for gold”. Huxley reels backward flailing feebly with his sword. Nell steps forward calmly and puts another bolt, point-blank, into the priest with her characteristic nonchalance. Drusilla misses, as does (barely) the priest's swing at her. Screaming, Huxley cannot connect with his sword, and gets in front of Nell's shot. The priest smashes Huxley with a grazing blow of his mace but miraculously fails to seriously injure the maddened fighter. Drusilla drives her weapon into the priest's back and the fight is suddenly over. With Grimgrim and Lemon standing paralyzed, eyes brimming with terror, and Huxley on the edge of madness, the party's two most merciless members brutally massacre the cultists disabled by Lemon's spell.

Within minutes both Lemon and Grimgrim come around, but no amount of brandy or consolation will calm Huxley. He appears to have been permanently effected ( Bestow curse! – a bit of insanity, Wisdom -2, and -1 to hit for each thing he's slain that day up to -4) as the voices of all the men he's killed for greed rattle about in his mind.

With the party almost whole, they begin searching the niche, finding that the icon of Furter was made of solid gold with gemstone eyes, (500GP) and that the dead priest carries a beautiful platinum holy symbol of Furter's undead hand (200GP). Examination off the corpses finds gems worth 150GP on the guardsmen.

A ransacking of the barracks reveals 122GP in assorted coins and 5 bottles of quality cactus wine (50GP). When the party pushes open the unexamined door they find a strange lab, with a steel operating table, Tesla coils, mysterious jars of fluid and various parts of bodies. A quick search reveals that one of the components of the soul clockworks used making skeletons is an engraved platinum gear, and 35 of these can be found (125GP). While the scientific apparatus is also obvious valuable, the PC's recognize that they have no means of transporting it, and that mucking with reanimation science might be unhealthy.

Moving onto the unlooted upstairs crypt the players smash open varous vaults, finding another 900 GP worth of assorted grave goods, and avoid messing with a creepy corpse that appears to be filled with blue jelly (dormant black pudding actually). Opening another vault manages to awaken some kind of rotting giant made of stitched together corpse parts and reeking of formaldehyde. Luckily the brute ignores the terrified party and stomps off into the woods with its own agenda. They also find the mummy of an elderly woman in a black dress and black fringed shawl wearing the locket described by Dawn. Grandma has more than just a locket though, there's a silver Athame and copper plate bound spell-book tucked into the niche with her. In the final tomb they discover the corpse of a Moktar Holy Tom, clad in dinosaur leather robes and wearing a gold nugget necklace (200GP). The party takes it all.

The adventurers are perturbed that Jackal Mask hasn't made diamonds and platinum materialize for them, but Grimgrim suggest that the party give the priest and cultist bodies to the corpse flea pit in order to remind the god that they accomplished their quest.

The corpse fleas are disgustingly happy, hopping up to the characters and rolling onto their bellies as the band drags a surprising number of warm bodies up to the surface. The fleas even begin to help move the bodies to the pit. A persistent flea nudges Grimgrim to the edge of the pit and waits waving its antenna in a wildly happy manner. Lemon is wary of a double cross, but the divine promise of gold is a bit much to resist and the party descends into the hole.

The corpse flea hive is terrifying, as rank upon rank of monster bugs stare at the PC's. There are at least 40 of them by Grimgrim's count, but they are all peaceful, worshipful even, and soon the bug that nudged Grimgrim appears leading the PC's towards an oddly straight wall in the cave. The cave itself is spectacular, with bits of coffins and bones jutting from the walls and a slick layer of some organic substance cementing the dirt in place. Several small passages lead off of the main cavern and all the while fleas are industriously burrowing into the bodies the PC's have provided.

As the PC's approach the wall the fleas begin to scratch at the surface and soon reveal a pale blue ceramic expanse. Nell's tapping shows that the blue wall is a thin layer, and brittle. Grimgrim hammers at the wall with his flail and soon smashes it open.

Within is a strange chamber, four capsule like coffins, one covered in gold leaf (That Hux scrapes off – what's with that habit of his anyway?), contain ancient mummified warriors – an officer with many jeweled decorations, a pilot wearing a strange purple metal jumpsuit and fishbowl helmet, a private clutching a laser pistol and an officer with a fine saber made of ultra hard white material that is still unnaturally sharp.

The party takes it all and climbs to the surface, while fleas dart back into their hole, with chitterings undoubtedly meant to be friendly. The adventures examine their finds and discovers that they have some very valuable jewels, an ancient sword, a durable jumpsuit and a corroded laser pistol. Huxley, because he is the most robust and cursed decides to test the pistol, but the rest of the party is (rightly) afraid and retreats behind gravestones. Predictably, the pistol explodes, incinerating Huxley, but miraculously not killing him (-4HP). The party tries to stabilize him, but he's on the very edge of death and Grimgrim can't channel divine power to nudge him over to life's side.

Note: You were waiting for a space zombie huh? Sorry a party of level 1 adventurers has no hope against the might of SPACEMEN ZOMBIES - I just forgot the "&" above. Spacemen & Zombies should be a trite Star Frontiers clone I think - with zombies and no wired flying squirrel chewbaccas. Lots of 'gyrojet' pistols though.

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