Thursday, July 28, 2022

Savage Gamma World #3

Kong faces off against Furwall

Leaving the airship in the hands of Joe and his villagers, our mutants (see PC profiles here) decided to travel to Dawnsville to attend the wrestling tournament that had been advertised across the zone - the winner would receive a prize of a hundred bullets, and be given a position as an officer in the Army of Dawn, which they hoped would allow them to learn the whereabouts of their friend Mary Juna, who had been sold as a slave.

After four days of travel, our mutants arrived at Dawnsville, a small town surrounded by a palisade wall. As they approached the gate, they saw three bodies hanging from a gallows - two of the victims had a sign with the word "Thief" hung around their neck, while the third had a sign with the word "Psionic" around his neck. Posters on the walls announced that all thieves and psionics found in Dawnsville would be executed.

(map from Kickstarter)

Our mutants made it past the Dawn soldiers at the gate after announcing that Kong - using the assumed name of Long the Great - was there to take part in the wrestling tournament. Immediately the party was spotted by the mutant Jinnie, who volunteered to be Kong's manager for a cut of 20% of the purse. The party agreed, and were led to the sign-up area, where Kong was made to arm-wrestle the house champion The Grey Death, a cyborg. Kong, his strength restored after his dip in the sacred pool, defeated The Grey Death, who smashed the table in a fit of rage and left. Kong was in.

Jinnie led the party past the market area, where free stew was being offered to all the inhabitants of the zone who had traveled to Dawnsville to see the tournament. Kong recognised the smell of the free stew as that which had been fed to him while he was prisoner in Battenburg's Trading Post, which turned him gravely ill, and the party wisely decided to pay for some hotdogs with their own money instead.

The party took up bunks in the free hostel set up for visitors, and decided to browse the stalls at the marketplace. There they were approached by Polly Pockett, a reporter for the Dawnsville Gazette. During the interview, Batte sensed that Polly was trying to read Kong's mind - she was a psionic!

The next morning, the party made their way to spy on Polly at her office, and found that she was conspiring with Mr Bones, one of the participants of the tournament, to help the latter win.

That evening the first round of the wrestle tournament took place at the arena set up just for the event - a hemispherical steel cage sixty feet across at the base. The event was attended by hundred of visitors from all over the zone, and the leader of Dawnsville and the Army of Dawn, Colonel Sari, who watched the proceedings from a dais, flanked by guards.

The opening match saw Kong fight John "the lodestone" Dwayneson, a rock organism with regenerative power. Kong was close to losing the match when Batte intervened, using his Fear Generation power to cause John to abandon the fight. Fortunately for the party, Batte's use of psionic power was not detected.

The next match-up saw Mr Bones, a slim and quick humanoid defeat the boar mutant Swine of the Wild, who seemed to be confused by the former's movements... but the party noticed that Polly was standing near the ring...

Then came Furwall, a four-armed mutant gorilla who, after some initial difficulty, managed to seize her opponent The Zone Tornado with one pair of her hands, then proceed to pummel him with her other pair of hands into submission.

Finally, the house champion The Grey Death came on and easily demolished Delta Max, a droid.

The second day of the match saw Kong pitted against Furwall. As the bell sounded, Furwall leapt forward and quickly seized Kong with her hands... and then the two apes felt an attraction to each other as simian pheromones kicked in. Kong whispered to Furwall to let him win the match, but Furwall was too proud to throw the match; instead, she knocked Kong out with a single blow and ended the fight.

After Kong was carried out of the cage, The Grey Death and Mr Bones entered the ring. Despite his strength and power, The Grey Death was unable to grab hold of the nimble Mr Bones. Then suddenly, Batte felt a piercing headache just as Colonel Sari shouted: there is a psionic among us - find him!

Dawn soldiers entered the cage and arrested Mr Bones, and soon afterwards Polly was arrested too as she tried to flee. The pair was taken to a large metal sphere - an disused LPG storage tank - and lowered into it.

The next morning, it was announced that Polly Pockett and Mr Bones were psionics who had conspired to cheat in the tournament, and would be executed by hanging as a pre-game entertainment that evening.

That same morning, while Kong was resting from his injury at the hostel, he was invited to meet with Colonel Sari. Kong and Vik followed the Dawn soldiers to a water tower that had been repurposed as an office for Colonel Sari and her staff. Here, Kong was offered a position as an officer in the Army of Dawn, which he accepted. Colonel Sari then informed him that he would accompany her to "the bunker" the next day for his induction to the army. Kong asked if Furwall would also be offered a position in the army if she won the finals that evening; Colonel Sari smiled and replied that that would not happen.

Kong and Vik returned to his companions, and the party decided to visit Furwall and warn her that foul play was afoot. Arriving at her shed, they were met at the door by Baccarat, her mutant chimpanzee manager. After receiving assurance from the party that they were not in league with the Army of Dawn, Baccarat admitted them and informed them that he and Furwall had been asked by agents of Colonel Sari to throw the fight that evening or face... consequences. The duo were reluctant to throw the fight out of ape pride, but at the same time they feared for their own safety after the fight.

With Kong's new love interest in danger, our mutants decided they needed a new plan. Reasoning that Polly would have some insider information on Dawnsville and that she had little love for the Army, they decided to rescue her and Mr Bones before the fight in a dramatic fashion, and then flee Dawnsville with Furwall and Baccarat in the ensuing chaos...

Prepping and Running the Game

This was the first session of the campaign where I had all four players at the table.

The plot was based pretty much as per the module, but I had a lot of fun improvising NPCs as the players wandered around Dawnsville, doing shopping and sticking their noses into places. They also made a game out of betting on the outcomes of the fight - the module actually gives you the bookkeeper's odds for the match-ups, which makes it easy for the GM.

This part of the campaign was pretty sandboxy, but easy to run as the module provided a very well-drawn map of Dawnsville, descriptions of the areas of interest, as well as details about the NPCs. There were also events which the GM could trigger if the players were not proactively pursuing their own course of action.

I started the session with no idea of how it would end, but I am pleased with how it turned out and I am looking forward to the finale session next week.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Savage Gamma World #2

As our mutants made their way towards the munitions factory, it soon became clear that Kong was ill (see PC profiles here). He began to suffer from aches and chills, and his eyes turned bloodshot. Kong suspected that it may have been the result of a poison in a red stew fed to him by Battenburg, which was not given to the other slaves. That night, when the party made camp, an anthropomorphic camel mutant suddenly appeared in front of them. He introduced himself as Joe, and explained that he had followed the party from Battenburg's Trading Post.

Joe's village had been taken as slaves by Battenburg's goons and sold to the Army of Dawn to work at their munitions factory, and he was only able to evade capture by using his chameleon powers. Having heard their plan to free their friend from the munitions factory, Joe decided to join them on their mission. But first, there was the matter of finding a cure for Kong's ailment, which Joe had a proposal for: the elders in Joe's village of mutants had spoken about a community of monks in a sacred mountain who guarded a pool of healing, and that the faithful who are pure of heart may be healed of any disease or wound by the water from the pool. Joe had never been to the sacred pool, but he knew where the sacred mountain was. With no other option in sight, our party decided to travel to there.

After two day's travel, our party arrived at the foothill of the sacred mountain, and followed a path that led upwards. By now Kong was severely ill and bleeding from his nose and mouth - the party was running out of time. Halfway up the mountain, at a narrow defile, the party found their path blocked up a two-head giant, who claimed to be the guardian of the sacred pool. The giant explained that only those who were pure of heart and embraced peace could pass, and bade the party to throw all their weapons down the ravine beside the path. With Kong at death's door, the party had no choice but to comply... but as soon as they had done so two more giants appeared on the hillside above them, and began throwing rocks at them! Our unarmed mutants tried their best to fight back, but were almost overcomed by the giants, until Vik used his mutant power to cause the side of the hill to disintegrate, causing the giants to fall and become incapacitated. The use of his power caused Vik to fall unconscious, but with his two accomplices taken out, the two-headed giant surrendered, and confessed that they were just highwaymen who preyed on pilgrims to the sacred pool.

Our mutants recovered their weapons, and continued their way up the mountain. Close to sunset they arrived at a clearing, where they were greeted by the monks guarding the sacred pool. After our heroes passed a test of their compassion (and wits), they were allowed to lower Kong into the sacred pool, which restored him to health.

With Kong healed, our mutants made their way to the munitions factory, guided by Amaltea's map and Rex's super sense of direction.

Two days later, our mutants reached the munitions factory, which they could see from afar due to a airship that was moored above it. Batte flew over the compound and saw that it was a walled compound housing not only the munitions factory and the quarters of the slaves who worked in there, but also the barracks of the forty or so Dawn soldiers who guarded the compound, the quarters for the officers, and also a massive hangar for the Army of Dawn's airships.

With so many soldiers guarding the compound, a direct assault was impossible. Using the chameleon powers, Joe sneaked into the compound and made contact with his fellow villagers. From them, he learned about the organisation of the Dawn soldiers, and their routine. Now armed with information our mutants put their heads together, and devised a cunning plan.

The next evening, when the officers of the Army of Dawn were having dinner in their mess, Teva, a mutant from Joe's village with shapeshifting power took the form of their commandant and entered the mess. Inside, Rex, who accompanied Teva, used his paralysing gas to knock the officers out, and then kidnapped the real commandant.

Then Teva, still in his guise as the commandant, ordered the soldiers to load all the slaves onto the airship. The plan worked for a while, as the soldiers were not used to questioning orders, and the slaves, already informed about the plan, moved quickly. But as the last slaves were boarding the airship, a Dawn soldier decided to check in with the other officers at their mess, and found that they had all been knocked out. The alarm was raised, but by then it was too late. The soldiers started shooting at the departing airship, but soon stopped when they realised that their commandant was missing and might be onboard too.

Our mutants piloted the airship southwards through the night, heading for a place where Joe and his fellow villagers could start a new home. The next morning, when they went to see the commandant to decide his fate, they found him dead with no apparent cause. Our heroes landed the airship and disembarked, leaving it to Joe and his villagers.

Prepping and Running the Game

As Kong's player once again could not join us for the session, I had to come up with a way to have Kong travel with the party without him doing much. At the same time we had another player who could join us for just one session, so I had Joe the Camel join the party.

I used part of the content of the Mutant Crawl Classics module Blessings of the Vile Brotherhood for the first half of the session. The module is quite an interesting one, and involved a literal hexcrawl and chase which I did not use.

The second half of the session was based on the Mutant Year Zero module, although I added the part about slave workers.

The players were having difficulty planning the rescue of the villagers, until Joe's player asked if there were any mutants among the slaves who had powers which might be helpful. I decided that two of them would, and had him roll up random mutant powers for them. The powers gave them the inspiration they needed to plan the rescue, and they managed the rescue with minimal fighting.

Monday, July 04, 2022

Savage Gamma World #1

Our tale begins when our heroes: Batte, Rex, and Vik (see PC profiles here) were called into the hut of Ah Meng, the mutant orang-utan who was the head of the village of mutants living in the desert. Three weeks ago, Ah Meng told them, Kong, Mary Juna, and Yapapa were sent on a mission across the Barrier Peaks to find a new place for the villagers to settle, but they had not returned as anticipated. Now our heroes will have to undertake the journey to the west and to find their friends and complete the mission.

Taking what food, water, and salvaged materials the village could spare, our heroes followed the course of the old highway that humans constructed across the Barrier Peaks. After two days, they came at last to a lake near its summit. While trying to get water from the lake, the party was attacked by tentacled-shark mutants, but with Batte's fear-inducing powers they were able to drive the sharks off and refill their bottles.

The next day they followed the course of the river that led from the lake down the western slope of the Barrier Peaks. From their vantage point they could see that the river led to a long valley below, where there was more vegetation and settlements.

That night, while camped by the river at the valley floor, our heroes were interrupted by a deer-headed mutant fleeing from pursuers. After ascertaining that the party were not with "the Army of Dawn", the mutant introduced herself as Amaltea, and handed them a map and bade them to bring it and a small metal box to Truffaut's bar marked on the map, and then continued its flight to draw the pursuers away.

Soon the party saw three mounted men charging towards Amaltea. Using Batte's fear-generating power and Rex's paralysing gas power, our heroes managed to defeat the pursuers, and take their weapons and ammunition as loot.

Amaltea thanked our heroes, and revealed that she was a scout for Truffaut, a mutant bear who ran a bar and settlement a day's walk tot he north. Concerned about the rise of the Army of Dawn, an expansionist force operating out of the town of Dawnsville in the west. Dawnsville was a nondescript town like many others in the valley, but a year ago it began to convince surrounding settlements to come under its banner, and recruit an army armed with firearms, and create a whole economic system using bullets as a form of currency. Truffaut had sent scouts to find out more about them, and after weeks of work, Amaltea had learned that the Army of Dawn operates a few factories runned by slave labour. Our heroes learned that mutants matching the description of their friends had been seen being led by slavers to one Oscar Battenburg's trading post a week prior.

Our heroes accompanied Amaltea to Truffaut's bar, where they were welcomed by the mutant bear. Truffaut gave our heroes more information about the Army of Dawn, and gave them some salvage equipment to help them rescue their friends.

Our heroes traveled westwards to Battenburg's trading post, and arrived in the evening two days later to see slaves being led to an airship owned by the Army of Dawn, but their friends were not among them. Our heroes counted at least four mutant minions with Battenburg, a human. They decided not to risk a confrontation, and instead came up with a scheme to pass themselves off as buyers, using the salvage they have received from Ah Meng and Truffaut. After the airship had departed, our heroes approached the trading post, with Rex wearing costume jewellery and perfume, Batte swinging a make-shift incense censer, and Vik in attendance with a teapot filled with cactus tea. Announcing himself as Rexona, Rex asked to buy an ape mutant and a couple of plant mutant. Battenburg at first said that they were out of stock, but when Rex declared that he was a rabbit of means, Battenburg revealed that he did indeed have an ape mutant, and asked for a price of 300 bullets. Rex bargained the price down to 210, and soon Kong was led out and handed to them.

When they were out of earshot of the trading post, Kong told the rest that they had been ambushed by Battenburg's slavers two weeks ago and taken to the trading post. Mary Juna was sold to a group of psychics known as "the Brain Trust", and Yapapa was sold to a munitions factory owned by the Army of Dawn, while he was kept by Battenburg, who intended to field him as a champion is a prize fight organised by the Army of Dawn.

Armed with the information and the map from Amaltea, our heroes resolved to travel to the munitions factory to free their friend.

Prepping and Running the Game

This campaign is based on the Mutant Year Zero module The Gray Death, but instead of setting it in a winter landscape, I have transplanted the campaign to a post-apocalyptic California valley.

There were two combats in the session, the first being with the sharktopus at Lake Isabella, and the second with the Dawn cavalry. The Dawn soldiers in the module are depicted wearing WW1 British helmets style, which is the look my Warzone Imperial figures sport. Both fights were short, due to the PCs' powers, which on the one hand was a little disappointing, but on the other hand allowed the players to feel that their characters were heroic.

I had planned the session for 4 characters, but as Kong's player had to drop out last minute, I modified the plot to have Kong and two other potential guest player characters being captured by slavers in an earlier mission. This gave the players an extra motivation to complete the campaign instead of just turning around and going home once they learned about the situation in the valley, and also allowed me to direct them to the various locations in the module.

One of the fun part about this campaign (at least for me) is the use of random salvage loot/equipment. By chance the players rolled up items which were "posh" but seemed useless, like costume jewellery, perfume, incense, and a tea set, but the common theme among these items prompted them to come up a way to save Kong that didn't involved a fight with Battenburg and his slavers. Again I was a little disappointed, as I had actually generated stats and mutant powers for the slavers, but the way the players pulled off their rescue was quite cool.