Saturday, March 9, 2013

'Flailsnails' Player's Introduction - HMS APOLLON



Strange and artificial environments await


Thrashing in the dark waters, the taste of salt overpowering, burning the nose and eyes as the light recedes above. A straining pain in the lungs and the sounds of the surface world blotted out.   It seemed endless, struggling against sinking, struggling to reach air and light again, and finally you burst forth head above calm dark water, gulping in the air with explosive breaths and weak with exhaustion.  All around a miasma of fog, tinged with purple and reeking of the rotten sea.  Something nibbles at your feet tugging momentarily, as you scan the mist for a sign of something to swim for.
It’s hours, or maybe only minutes as time is without meaning in the numbing waters, but staying afloat seems easier than before all the same, when you hear a bell in the fog.  Soon accented voices and harsh croaking can be heard coming closer.  A long boat, seemingly cobbled together from parts of other vessels, looms from the left and aboard it you hear a familiar sailor’s shanty, as the rowers push the strange fishing boat closer to you.  

The hands that pull you aboard the fishing vessel are strong, and the sailors aboard mostly pallid, hairy and clearly human.  A few however appear amphibian, with wide frog mouths, bulging eyes and dangling limbs with slick green and brown skin.  Both man and frog are dressed in ragged clothing of a clearly nautical cut.  Pea coats, striped jerseys, cabled sweaters and seaman’s boots abound.  Your rescuers say little to you, but taking advantage of your weakened state exchange your of weapons and armor for a large mug of a black salty broth and a block of bread that tastes of iron and the ocean.
Few see the deck aboard the Apollyon
As you recover slowly, half under a tarp in the back of the fishing boat, you notice that the sailors are rowing with purpose, done gathering in nets of oddly proportioned fish and pulling up traps of grey blue lobsters that thrash and scuttle in the boat’s small hold.  Soon it becomes clear where you are rowing towards, an endless wall of rust splotched steel rises from the sea, above the ever-present fog, with rows of lighted openings visible as your boat approaches.  As you sail closer it becomes obvious that the wall is the hull of a gigantic ship, its deck invisible a thousand feet above the sea, and its prow lost in the fog.  The hull is ancient, warped brine and barnacles on the outside, and corrupted from within by decay.  Despite it’s obvious age, the vessel still manages a brutal majesty, and the hundred foot tall letters across its stern still shine with ancient gold beneath layers of rust stains and the tarnishing of sea spray.  The letters read “HMS APOLLYON” and in your mind they thunder a sense of hopeless dread. 

The entire fishing boat is soon hauled up from the water into a shallow pool within the vessel, and as stern, scarred soldiers in laminated bronze armor and red and white striped pantaloons drag you gently from the deck, you hear the guard’s leader congratulate the fishing scow’s captain, a tall woman with short grey hair and a leg replaced with mechanical bronze struts, for “Pulling in a another bit of useful flotsam”.  Beyond the boat you catch a few feverish glimpses of a bustling fishing quay, nets drying, factors bidding on the catch as it’s unloaded and carts attached to dull looking dogs the size of ponies ready to carry it away, all built inside the cavernous hold of the giant vessel.  

The guards prove kind enough, despite their rough appearance, indifferent but careful not to harm you in your weakened state.  A week follows tucked in a clean bed, lethargic but unconcerned from something in the food, as men dressed in the striped pants of the guards, but wearing high collared coats ask you questions about your life, skills and intentions.  Once a short woman in a green dress and wearing a ridiculously tall top hat examines you from across the room, obviously performing some sort of mystical ritual by pointing various crystals, bones and strange objects at you.  She soon speaks to the room’s attendant in hushed tones but neither seems concerned.
Former Theater - Deck 10
You learn you are aboard the HMS APOLLYON, a ship over three miles long that has plowed endlessly through haunted seas, with the human population aboard reduced to this town, located in the stern and cowering from the monstrosities that stalk the rest of the hull.  You must make your way in this world, seizing survival and then fame and fortune from beyond the town’s gates amongst the twisted gangways and lost holds to the Apollyon.  Miles of twisted passages, shafts and vaults await, with lost treasures and terrible dangers.  Humankind is not alone aboard the ship, and besides its allies: the guarded Frogfolk and the servile Flying Monkeys, numerous strange races such as the Nyarlathotep worshiping fishmen, Diabolic Princes escaped from the control of long dead masters, and the gaunt mottled cannibalistic Ghoula roam the hull, none friendly to humanity. Cleared from magical, physical and mental quarantine, your equipment is returned and you are marched into the slums of the Rust Gate neighborhood, forbidden from entering the better parts of town and told to seek your place among the scavengers .  

6 comments:

  1. Overwrought? Nah. Nicely done!

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  2. Is there a page or pdf of all your HMS Apollyon in one place? I want to read it all!

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    1. You can get a list of all the posts tagged HMS Apollyon on the sidebar, but no there is no PDF of everything together. It's worth noting that there have been multiple incarnations and significant rule changes. Thus the class skill trees were radically simplified and redesigned from the early versions and the system switched from B/X AD&D sort of hybrid to a OD&D based system using gamified resource mechanics. The Combat and exploration PDF comes the closest to a systematization of the current game which is in hiatus.

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