Hello? Anybody in here? Bleah, look at all the dust in here. Cobwebs, too…is that a dead mouse in the corner? Yuck. You’d think it’s been months since anybody posted a recap here. Well, I say, let us not be slaves to inertia! Let apathy no more rule the day! We have gamed, and I shall boldly recap! Onward!
This particular session was another one of Josh’s trippy one-shots, where…well, see for yourself.
The scene opens on a craggy cliffside, enshrouded by fog. The mist parts, and four figures become visible: An attractive middle-aged woman in hospital scrubs, with electrodes attached to her forehead; a short, dark man dressed in skins; a tall, skinny, person of indeterminate gender with leather clothes, eye-covering visor, and technological gauntlets attached to his hands; and an older man dressed in old-fashioned tweeds, with an arrogant bearing.
The mist parts further, revealing a few more details. The cliff seems to be made of jade, and is unclimbable. A broad, featureless plane stretches away in the other direction. The four begin to talk hesitantly, as none of them are seeing what they expected. The woman, Dr. Kaitlin Murphy, Ph.D., M.D. (Wendy), was doing dream research at Johns Hopkins, and isn’t sure how the others got to the same spot she did. The arrogant man, Sir Julian Newcombe, Ph.D., O.B.E. (Brian), was conducting his own experiments at Oxford. Coming from the late 19th century as he does, he asserts that this is all allegorical, and the others represent fragments of his personality. The leather-boy, Carbon Arc, l33t VR haxx0r (Doug), assures the others that while they may be in their own dreams, he is in theirs. The shaman, K’tark (Paul), speaks cryptically of journeys and meanings.
A large white rabbit in a hat and frock coat then appears to the four (Sir Julian pronounces that he expected as much), and tells them that they need to rescue the sun, which has been taken underground. Consulting his pocket-watch, he tells them they don’t have much time. The full moon becomes a clock-face at this point, showing that the group has only seven hours remaining. He then informs them that they need to choose a guide. Behind him appear a girl in a frilly dress, who upon questioning by K’Tark, announces that she can sense danger, a beautiful woman with butterfly wings who proclaims that she can remove doubt, and a stumpy, sexless dwarf who states that he can lift and carry things. Sir Julian seizes the initiative and, sensing a theme, chooses the girl, but the others shout him down. Kaitlin, employing a bit of meta-gaming, thinks that removing doubt would be most useful for this group, and Carbon votes in favor of “the smokin’ hot chick.” The two rejected guides vanish, as does the rabbit. The selected guide smiles, revealing needle-sharp teeth, and a stench of carrion wafts from her.
The party’s new Guide gestures to a table of items that hadn’t been present a moment ago: a sword, a bow and arrows, a staff, a crown, a book, mask, a pitcher, and a deck of cards. She tells them to choose. Sir Julian immediately snatches up the sword, believing it to be representative of his knighthood (while ignoring Kaitlin’s scathing comments about his Austrian colleague’s likely opinion). Kaitlin herself chooses the book. Carbon gleefully takes the cards, and after examining the staff, K’tark takes the mask.
The Guide announces that the trip to the underworld will take eight days, so they’ll have to go get some time from the Minute Mines beneath Time City. Unfortunately, the trip to Time City will take fourteen hours on foot. The group is momentarily stymied, but K’tark transforms himself into a white buffalo, and encourages the others to mount up. Thundering across the plains, the buffalo reaches Time City in just three hours. The city is perfectly round, with a vast tower–the Tower of the Hour–at the center, and streets representing the hour, minute, and second hands, which are in constant motion.
The group reaches Times Square, in front of the tower, where they’re informed that they’ll need to confront the Ticktockmen in order to enter. Sir Julian steps forward, expecting to face a single foe, but is confronted by four giant clockwork robots instead, who inform him that he shall not pass. Kaitlin attempts to sing the Ticktockmen to sleep, and although everyone else in the square immediately becomes drowsy, but the clockwork men aren’t programmed to sleep. Sir Julian rallies, and challenges the Ticktockmen’s leader to a duel, according to the rules of chivalry, but they aren’t programmed for honor, either, and level their rifles at him.
While Sir Julian blusters, Carbon notices a series of glowing green platforms around the side of the tower, out of sight of the Ticktockmen. Using his l33t gam3r skills, he double-jumps up the platforms to an open window. Climbing inside, he plays a Rope card from his deck, and lowers it down to the others. Sir Julian blusters that he cannot fight foes with no honor, turns on his heel, and strides around the corner to join the others in climbing the rope.
In the room at the top of the rope, a Ticktockman has discovered Carbon and opens fire with semiautomatic weapons. Carbon immediately enters Bullet-Time and dodges safely behind a convenient table. The Ticktockman grows multiple gunarms, but a misfire sends it staggering backward and off the platform. It shatters on the ground, in an explosion of metal and springs, and a lone cog rolls out and spins around, gradually wobbling to the ground. After vanquishing that clockwork guard, the group leaves the room to find a large room containing a giant shaft that seems to reach well beneath the tower, with a spiral staircase running down the center. The room itself is decorated with all manner of urns, benches, statues, and paintings. Carbon immediately busies himself smashing the urns and snatching up the coins that appear, to Sir Julian’s shock, but Carbon explains that only some items are breakable, and the background is non-deformable terrain.
Suddenly, another Ticktockman appears between the party and the shaft, blocking their way. A quick tactical analysis reveals that a white buffalo at full charge is unlikely to do much more than dent the automaton, so Sir Julian draws his sword and cries “Have at thee!” A single stroke slices the Ticktockman completely in half, but Sir Julian looks stricken and lost afterwards.
Faced with a giant shaft with a single long railing, Carbon can’t resist. He jumps on the rail, presses triangle, and grinds away at top speed. Kaitlin snatches up an umbrella from a nearby elephant-foot stand (of course), opens it, and jumps out into the shaft, where she floats sedately down. (This causes Sir Julian to revise his opinion of Kaitlin — he now believes she represents his ingenuity, rather than some symbol of his mother.) Sir Julian and K’tark follow on foot.
Reaching the bottom of the shaft first, Carbon confronts an Abomination, a huge writhing mass of tentacles, with eyes all over, mouths where it has no eyes, and stingers where it has no mouths, that he cannot hope to confront. The Abomination bellows, in a huge voice that reverberates off the walls, that none may pass unless they pay with a story (story, story). A story about finding the lost sun (sun, sun). And cheese (eese, eese).
[At this juncture, I think it would be most appropriate for the players to insert their own stories, in their own words. Suffice it to say that they were all quite well-told, and the Abomination was well pleased (pleased, pleased).]
After passing the Abomination, the group proceeds to the bottom of the shaft, where they find the Minute Mines. Raw time is strewn about in these caves, in the form of colorful gems. Seconds and minutes are like gravel, an hour is the size of a fist, and months are huge boulders. Carbon starts gathering up hours to carry, and is pleased to discover that they stack in his inventory, so he distributes stacks to the others. Sir Julian is astonished, and between the inventory and the stories, begins to think that what he’s experiencing couldn’t possibly come from his subconscious. (The others are just pleased that he’s finally caught up.) The gems of time are being carried away by small birds (cuckoos, one assumes), through a shaft at the end of the cave, and off to the various parts of the realm. The four started to consider escaping through the birds’ shaft, rather than going back up the tower, but then the players’ own time ran out, and without access to any gems, we broke for the evening.