Ark projects, zone exploration and a deadly trap!
Our Ark look like this, except that our ship have split in the middle section.
- Brando (played by Sylvain M) is still learning how to be a good boss. Ordering people around is harder than making a stand for the people. His big dream is that one day the Ark will be strong enough to dominate the zone.
- Clarissa (played by Annick P) have fully regained control over her instincts. Her big dream is to have a secret safe place.
- Fillix (played by me) is slowly learning how to sense emotions and how to shoot (because she felt helpless during the encounter with the robots). Her big dream is still to uncover the truth about the elder and Eden. She pass a lot of her time with her chronicler friend Juna to try to learn how to read.
- Allia (played by Dominic C) is more and more interested by our car. She still dream about making her master proud of her: Brando.
I finally checked the equipment list in the book and I have spend around 14 bullets of gear. Basic stuff that will help us a bit: scrap binoculars, a shovel, a knife, a pair of boots, a lantern, etc. I wanted to get a scrap riffle but our Ark have no armory. So instead I had buy a jury-rigged rifle from a NPC gearhead. The big difference is that jury-rigged stuff break once you use them (except if you spend stunts on them).
I was expecting the characters to mutate like crazy during the campaign but in 8 sessions we only had one new mutation (or feral power). Since Otiak mutated and died during our second session, none of our characters gained new powers (for this to happen you have to roll 1 twice on a d6 when you use your power).
We finished all of our projects! But we are still a bunch of uncultured barbarians.
Brando trained our militia, Clarissa and Allia worked on our barricades and Fillix worked on the temple.
Since I was working on the temple I asked the other to check the video camera they had found in the mushroom contaminated factory. I used the batteries from the underground base and we managed to watch the footage contained in the artifact. It was a sequence showing the Elder walking out of Eden with other humans and hundreds of young children. It was us! The GM showed us a picture and we recognized some of the NPCs (nice touch!). Fillix, Juna and Allia were really moved!
The neat thing about the mutants is that they are all childhood friends, they are like a entire high school that was left to themselves. Lord of the Flies style...
Naturally this triggered my manipulative instincts, I used some dirt I had on Boss Nafta to get a new battery and to jury-rig the video camera to show the images to everyone working on the temple. Doing so I put the Boss Zidane, the rabbit seer, in charge of the ceremony and I used the occasion to humiliate the Chronicler's boss, Astrina by trusting the care of the sacred camera to Zidane instead of her. With the help of Allia I put under her nose that hiding in the Ark is a error, that we have to venture into the zone to learn the truth. I nearly felt bad for her (damn my new sense emotions skill!)
With the barricades and the militia we rolled super high to rise our warfare score but sadly, again we rolled low on our cultural development points. Having a low culture score is really starting to limit our Ark. But the Ark is getting a character of it own and this part of the game is starting to get super involving. Finishing those projects felt like a achievement.
That said I note that developing the Ark is really random, especially with the projects that award 2d6 points of development. Earning 2 points or 12 points is a big difference. So even if you build the same projects in different playthroughs, each campaign must feel different. Like for our Ark, the only cultural project we have left now is to build a museum, if we roll under 3 on our d6 we will have no choice but to explore the zone to find cultural artifacts to try to raise our culture score above 10. I like this since it build a narrative of it own if you take the time to "read the bones" of the dice results.
A big Threat!
After working hard on our projects we went to our crappy tavern to drink some disgusting booze.
There, Thomaz the mind-terror mutant, attacked Juna, she tried to fight him of with her telepathy but he overwhelm her with his mind-terror power while telling her that they were alike with their mind powers and that should always have been together. Clarissa jumped in and tried to smash his head in a table but he unleashed his power on her making her believe she was drowning in a bag (naturally). This gave the opportunity to Fillix to close in and to use her parasitic power to steal Thomaz's mind terror power and to give him a taste of his own medicine. I went for a really nasty mind-terror and I inflicted him the hallucination that the Elder was beating him with a crowbar while telling him that he was totally worthless. That was really vicious, since the Elder is our only father figure. Fillix felt disgusted with herself after this (well for a brief moment at least, I mean she can be quite nasty sometime).
Before we could leave the scene, the GM drew a Threat card and Geeko the boss of the NPCs stalkers stumbled in the tavern, bleeding badly. His group was ambushed by the Hell Drivers! Dog-Face (NPC enforcer), Ratchet (NPC gearhead) and Charlene (NPC badger gearhead) were taken prisoners! (Ratchet is the NPC that Allia want to protect and Charlene is the NPC that Clarissa want to protect). Shit! I mean the Hell Drivers... This is bad.
Clarissa was ready to leave alone to rescue her badger friend/lover. But we decided to take the car and to go together. Anyway we need to recon those Hell Drivers, they are too big a menace to ignore.
So we made some preparations and the team left for the zone (Brando brought his side-kick buddy: Spoutnik, the beagle warrior).
Into the zone
With the car full of booze, we quickly traveled through the explored sectors up to the ruins of the temple of the Law of Lob. From there we went north. We passed near some crazy rams, a rot pit and we got stuck in the mud.
The travel was uneventful we discovered no artifact to tempt us to mess with some of the threats we encountered. I wanted to check the Zone Ghouls Den, but the group wanted to avoid any additional trouble.
Exploring the zone and mapping is still fun, but sometime I wish that the zone was a bit weirder, but I guess this is just a question of random rolls. We still have a lot of sectors to explore. :)
When you travel through already explored sectors there is no random encounters or new threats. At first I was a little bit let down by this, but after 8 sessions I think this is a good design choice because this put the focus on the unexplored sectors. There is so much things to do in the game, you don't want to get bog down in already explored sectors.
A deadly trap!
So the Hell Drivers! We sneaked up to their lair, a multi-story parking lot. There was a lot of people with brightly colored hairs (I joked that we should steal this cultural technology) and many cars, trucks and buggy!
Clarissa scouted the place and learned that our friends were held prisoner in the basement of the parking. We decided that Clarissa should go alone with Allia to try to sneak in to free the prisoners. Allia is our best fighter (beside Brando) and she can fly away if things get too ugly while Clarissa can always find a place to hide to sneak out of trouble. The rest of the group will remain outside as backup.
Clarissa and Allia passed by some guards down in the basement until they found a van guarded by a hell driver. They tried to surprise-kill the guard, but with a twist a bad luck Allia rolled badly on a 10 dice attack roll, she pushed her roll only to tax herself with 3 points of damage! They wounded the Hell Driver but he banged on the Van and a gigantic women with a huge meat cleaver opened the door of the van. Inside the van: the giant woman, her assistant and our friends chained to the wall ready to be transformed into meat rations!
Scared by her bad roll and her damage points Allia really did not confident enough to take on the Boss of the Hell Riders. We panicked at the table: "Shit! Pull out! This is a TPK trap!"
Clarissa and Allia hesitated a moment but there was simply no way for them to win this fight against 3 NPC including a boss. And the two other guards from above would rush in once they ear the fight.
So they diced to abandon their friends to their fate and they pulled back. They managed to get out of the camp that quickly went into full alert mode!
We regrouped, jumped in the car and we hit the gas pedal to the ground. A scout buggy was on our trail menacing to find us and to send the Hell Riders armada on our trail! But I used my new scrap jury-rigged rifle and I managed to shoot it damn search light! The rifle broke, but still, best use of my money ever!
Oh shit we were scared, frustrated and angry! We wasted our resources for nothing and we barely escaped alive! Now what to do?? There was talk of war at the table.
For my part I was more thinking about trying to make a alliance with the Lighthouse Ark of Amazones or to try to cut a deal with the zone ghouls to try to buy back our friends if they are not already eaten.
One positive note: we rolled no casualties for the Ark.
We ended the session and we distributed the XP.
Allia spent her XP to change her role, she went to the den of Ratched to take her tools, now she was going to work on that car to become a gearhead!
Clarissa will also have to find a new NPC buddy and Annick was talking about changing her big dream.
Brando is grinding his axe and thinking about how to use our militia...
Fillix is still learning how to read with Juna. I am thinking of making peace with Astrina to become a chronicler. Or maybe I could make a deal with Zidane to become a seer... Both options are tempting.
Oh and winter is coming! It started to snow...
Fillix learning her alphabet with Juna her semi-translucent skinned telepathic friend: