Sunday, March 29, 2015

City in the Mirage, Chapter 1

Pi 2-50
What follows is a write-up of my group's playtest of the new game I'm working on: Exiled in Eris.

I am running them through the introductory adventure I included with Swords of Cydoria, adapted to Exiled in Eris. Not to mention some final playtesting and fine tuning of the rules.


Rage Bourne Crusader, Human Artifact Hunter
Theris, Human Celestial Guardian, searching to recover lost artifacts of the Celestials.
Jip-Jip, Tintazi Scout with a slave-bond to Theris
Pi 2-50, Cyberdroid Aerine and sniper
Thyra, Barbarian warrior from Gatas, land of the Amazon women.

"The City in the Mirage"

When we last saw our intrepid band of artifact hunters, they had returned to the free city of Acik-Sehir after a successful mission. After spending a few days of down time recuperating, Rage Bourne Crusader decided to do a little bit of research at a well-stocked library. He was looking for information on the lost city of Hrosek, the greatest city built by Yalzhas the Architect. It was a legend, no one had ever found it. Yet he had just seen a model of the city in the tomb of its builder and ruler. 

The library had only one book that mentioned anything about Hrosek, and the librarian indicated that it was currently in the possession of that man over there.

Rage asked the young privileged academic about the book. The young man introduced himself as Dentir Osso, a student of antiquities from the University of Vrildar and asked Rage why he might be interested. Rage explained that he was an artifact hunter searching for the lost city of Hrosek. Osso explained that he was part of an expedition from the university searching for the lost city and that they were in need of a guide. He asked Rage if he would be interested. Rage agreed.
Dentir Osso, you just want to punch him in the soul patch!

Later, Rage and his team met the members of the expedition in a private room at a local restaurant. The leader of the expedition was a older professor named Magister Kulik Reeg. Accompanying the magister was Osso and four young Vrildarian students.

Magister Kulik Reeg

 The expedition was being funded by a Norukarian aristocrat named Lord Garrus Kendrik. Lord Kendrik was a famous adventurer of the previous generation who had explored many of the ruined cities of eastern Cydoria until he lost his arms and eyes in an explosion. Today, he has artificial bionic hands and eyes supplied by Rhakadian technology.
Lord Kendrik enjoying a smoke.
The team also met Lord Kendrik's bodyguards, Trin and Kabak, and his two retainers, Dergo and Frunk.

Also in the room was a Demetrian airship captain, Kak Resko, master of the cargo airship named Tonbo.
Captain Kak Resko is totally played by Timothy Hutton in the movie!
Captain Resko's crew included young Fornaxian navigator Xuxa Kaym.
Xuxa Kaym

The bald and burly Zinjani engineer Dys, who of course has a valid guild license with the Syntechnium. Would you like to see it?
Dys, bald by choice!
There was the dashing, handsome, and roguish Mancean pilot, Dosay Matin.
Dosay Matin, "Well, Hello there!"
And finally there was the laconic Bakaran ship's purser, Bannis.

After introductions, the magister laid out his backstory and plan. He explains that through careful research and interviews he has deduced that a previously undiscovered Aeonian city, possibly legendary Hrosek, is located in the heart of the desolate region known as the Wasteland. For some reason, airship engines will not work within the wasteland. To that end, he has chartered the Tonbo to take them as far as the small village of Sweetwater. There, they will procure several girah and wagons and the expedition will travel overland to the northeast. The journey will take two days. The first day will include a 25 mile hike to the edge of the wasteland where they will camp. The second day includes a 15 mile hike over the burning alkalai flats to the center of the wasteland, where he hopes to find a previously undiscovered Aeonian city.

Rage and his team would be paid 2000 Aus each to act as guides. All artifacts and treasures will be the property of the university of Vrildar. During the mission, they would be allowed to carry and use a Rhakadian plasma rifle belonging to Lord Kendrik. Any other reasonable equipment would be provided at the team's request.

Rage and his team agreed. They were to report to the Tonbo in the landing field at dawn. 

Bannis overseeing the loading of the Tonbo
The next day, they boarded the rusty boxy airship and lifted off, headed southeast. Their journey would take roughly 8 hours, taking them near the busy Imperial territory captitol of Feng and the iron fields of Tzan where hundreds of machines and thousands of slaves scraped the rust red surface sand so it could be smelted for iron and other metals. They arrived at the small walled village of Sweetwater late  that afternoon. 

Their landing was met by several rough-looking thugs carrying ballistic rifles. The thugs greeted the expedition and demanded to see papers. Their sole purpose was to look intimidating in case of trouble and to make sure nobody started any trouble.

The town of Sweetwater was built around a pump that drew water from a deep aquifer. A small power transmitter supplied electricity to the area and a wall kept marauding bandits, barbarian tribes, and Tintazi at bay. A fortified manor house built of basalt overlooked the village from a nearby hill. The team started unloading all the equipment. A large blustery man with a wide military helmet came down from the manor accompanied by a few more retainers. The man was friendly but imperious. He introduced himself as Baron Donahee of Sweetwater. He spoke mostly with Lord Kendrik and Magister Reeg, giving them a tour of the town and pointing out its many shops and entertainments. The rest of the team were left to their own devices until morning.

The town had few choices. You could get a meal and a drink at the Golden Goblet saloon or you could find more carnal entertainment at the Desert Pearl brothel. Other locations in town included a Syntechnium guild house run by a lone hydraulics engineer, a dry goods store run by a Bakaran bookseller, an apothecary, a mining assayer, and a wine shop that had very little wine for sale.

The team decided to check out the Golden Goblet.

The Golden Goblet was run by a diminutive red-skinned Jinx named Cyril who stood on a raised platform behind the bar. An intimidatingly large but dim-witted brux named Gunter stood by the door.

As they entered, Pi 2-50 noticed Osso meeting with a handsome woman in her forties wearing a fine dress made of Mancean silk. Osso and the woman began walking toward the Desert Pearl brothel. Pi made a comment towards Osso about the mystery of the human practice of mating and expressed his desire to observe. Osso scowled at him, made some kind of defensive remark, and left. Pi 2-50, still curious, decided to follow them more discreetly. To his surprise, he saw them enter the cellar door in the back of the Desert Pearl.  Pi 2-50 then approached the cellar door and listened. He heard nothing. After a moment, the cellar door suddenly opened and Osso exited. Osso was surprised to see the cyberdroid standing at the cellar entrance. He scowled and glared at the Ohnan. Pi 2-50, still curious, expressed his surprise that the act of mating would be so fast. He had heard that it took longer than a few seconds, and complimented Osso on his efficiency. Osso ignored him and pushed past. Pi 2-50 shrugged and re-joined his companions at the Golden Goblet.

While they were enjoying a drink and a meal, a hunched old man with matted hair and wearing tattered robes staggered into the saloon and began asking patrons for drinks or money. Theris could sense attunement in the old stranger, perhaps he was a Celestial!

Cyril yelled at the old man, "Ismir! I told you you weren't allowed in here! Gunter! Throw the old man out and don't let him back in!" Gunter then grabbed Ismir and pushed him out the front door and into the dusty street.

The team asked Cyril about the old man. Cyril explained that he was some war veteran who did ten years in a prison camp. He's got no money and contributes nothing to the town. He lived in a shack back by the waste processor.

Theris and the rest of the team left the Golden Goblet and, despite being thrown out only seconds before, could find no trace of the old vagrant. They tracked him down in his shack, where they found him muttering to himself. They asked him a few questions about his past and what happened to him but could get no coherent answers. Eventually, they gave the poor old man a few dozen Aus and left him to retire for the night.

The expedition assembled the next morning around the the tree girahs. They left through the town gates and trudged to the north-northeast. It was a long day of hiking across the rocky desert with little to see but a few scattered wild girah grazing on dry lichens and a few rattlesnakes.

About ten miles out, Thyra stepped on a hidden trap-cactus buried under the sand. The trap-cactus snapped shut, missing Thyra's feet and legs, and retreated into its burrow. The team was a little more careful thereafter.

Thyra failed her awareness check but the trap-cactus rolled a 1 to attack.

Later that afternoon, after hiking twenty miles across the dry rocky landscape, they passed between two steep ridges and turned to the northeast. Ahead and below, they could see the vast white expanse of the flat dry lake-bed known as the Wasteland stretching away below them. A rocky ridge could be seen on the horizon in the far distance.

It was near dark by the time they reached the edge of the wasteland. The expedition set up camp for the night.

That evening, the expedition formed small cliques around the campfire. Lord Kendrik and Magister Reeg conversed with each other in one group, surrounded by bodyguards. The students sat together in another group. The shorter of the two household armsmen tried to socialize with the students but was rejected. He rejoined his partner who laughed at his efforts. The artifact hunters kept to themselves and maintained watch throughout the night.

Late that night, after everyone had gone to sleep, Pi 2-50 was on guard with one of the retainers when he saw the reflection of night eyes in the darkness coming towards them. His auditory sensors picked up the sound of breathing and movement. He fired a warning shot from the plasma rifle, creating a report like a thunderclap. The bolt of high energy charged particles streaked off into the night, illuminating the desert around it n red neon light. He saw several short reptilian humanoids sneaking towards the camp, suddenly frozen in shock by the bright light and sound of thunder.

The sound woke everyone in camp. Pi 2-50 shone his powered torch towards the now fleeing creatures and took some shots with his ballistic rifle, killing one of them. With the flight of the remaining three, there was no indication of further attack. They recovered the body of the one Pi shot. It was a tintazi, a diminutive and savage cousin of the dakazi. They lived a stone-age existence in caves throughout Eris. After the commotion died down, the expedition went back to sleep.


Later that night, about two hours before dawn, the expedition was once more rattled awake. This time, a force of at least sixteen tintazi had returned to raid the camp. They had crept close in the dark before they were discovered. An alarm was raised and the the tintazi responded by charging and shouting their war-bark, "Gah! Gah! GAH-GAH-GAH!"

To be continued!

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