Pigsies! Why did it have to be Pigsies?!

Session Summary for 11/30/08: Elves & Espers

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a recap around these parts. Let’s fix that.

Sunday night’s session picked up from a previous adventure (undocumented, because Ye Olde Recapper wasn’t present). That session was the first in the Elves & Espers campaign, in which the previously introduced characters banded together and picked up their level-1 quest: Clear out the vermin in the basement. This session opened with our brave exterminators, plan in hand, setting out to accomplish that goal.

A bit of background first: This campaign takes place in a post-several-apocalyptic world that’s more or less back on its feet. As Josh has mentioned, the overarching theme here is “what if D&D were science-fictiony instead of magicky?” The humans, hobbits, elves, and dwarves all live together over a giant arcology. The arcology itself long ago exceeded its maximum population, and the inhabitants built New Ark City on the roof. The city itself is constructed of several towers, each with a number of concentric disks, spread far enough apart so as not to cast perma-shadows. The disks are laced with a series of wires and cables called the Web (of course) that transmits data, power, magic, and presumably other things as well. The computer (Gax) that ran the arcology is a bit over-worked now, and it’s been hinted that old and powerful families lord over the various infrastructure systems, but we didn’t see any of that just yet.

The specific vermin that Idariel 7 [Wendy], Tank McSplatter (of the Hobbit McSplatters) [Doug], and Josepi [Dan] needed to clear out were Pigsies, nasty little winged porcine critters, semi-sentient and tool-using. According to their adventure-broker Barbis Boltbiter, a witch by the name of Grismerelda had a pigsie infestation at her shop, Bat Wings & Things in Witchtown. Witches in this setting practice strictly organic magic, which is a bit unusual, and puts them rather low on the totem pole in the arcology’s pecking order, but still above adventurers-turned-exterminators-for-hire. Witches’ shops store lots of herbs, powders, and other such sundries, and pigsies will go after anything they can consume, especially if it gets them drunk, so getting the porkers out of the warehouse would be a tough job.

That was the root of Josepi’s plan: Tempt the Pigsies with liquor laced with cold iron shavings, in the hopes that it would incapacitate them, if not kill them outright. Since they were on a budget, the best they could do for bait was a cask of Pink Lightning (it’s like White Lightning, but made with pomegranates), but they were confident that it would do the trick. Having impregnated the drink with a double handful of cold iron, they headed off for the shop to set the trap. On their way, they were interrupted by a loud noise as Gax illuminated video screens all over the city and announced that “We are now at war with Oceania. We have always been at war with Oceania.” Fortunately for all concerned, the nation of Oceania collapsed centuries ago, so the announcement didn’t merit much reaction except from a few citizens who had bets on the matter. The party was then nearly run down by a Web-riding G-nome (say it out loud) on rocket-powered roller-blades, but no harm was done there either.

Upon arriving at the shop, they were greeted by a sales-elf (Traumiel [Brian], not that anybody ever asked his name *sniff*), whose charming routine degenerated to irritation quickly once he realized they were the exterminators and not customers. After some quick questioning, he revealed that the shop was fine, but the storeroom was very badly infested, enough that the employees wouldn’t go down there anymore. The storeroom was actually constructed below the surface of the disk (which is evidently thin enough to cut through for construction purposes, and a quite common practice), and had three glass walls, so was very well lit. Traumiel revealed that the Pigsies were clustered thickest around the area where the psychoactive substances were stored, and then not-so-politely suggested that the exterminators should get on with it while the staff took a break. With that, he flipped the sign in the window to “Closed” and stepped outside for a clove cigarette (or whatever the elven equivalent is).

Tank and Josepi set to work wrestling the cask down to the storeroom, where Tank took a bad step and plunged off the stairs. Fortunately, he landed on a box labeled “O parts,” which is evidently a soft and fluffy in-joke so obscure, it’s known only to the GM, so he sustained no injury. While they were crashing about, Idarial tried to chat amiably with another staff member, a human goth named Moondark. She had no interest in conversing with a Tool of The Man, however, and after revealing that she’d worked for Grismerelda for about two years, she stalked off to smoke outside. Idarial noted that Moondark’s eyes slowly changed through all the colors of the rainbow as she watched, a fashion that he knew to be at least ten years out of date. He also recalled, though, that the rainbow-eyes enchantment nicely disguises the otherwise obvious effects of several illegal drugs, including pigsie dust.

By this time, Tank and Josepi had wrestled the cask into position, and wandered off nonchalantly. When they reached the main floor again, Idariel revealed her suspicions that Moondark might be a “pig-snorter” (also called “hog-huffers” and “bacon-baggers,” and those were just the printable nicknames the players came up with). There didn’t seem to be anything to do about it without further evidence, so Idariel used his Wandering Senses ability to check on the storeroom. It seemed their plan had worked perfectly: The Pigsies immediately broke into the cask and make short work of the whiskey. As a result, most of them were lying around on the floor, groaning, and the few that were still airborne wouldn’t be that way much longer. After waiting for the last of them to expire, Tank and Josepi stuffed them in a sack, and prepared to go dispose of them.

The party notified Traumiel that they were done in the shop, and were about to head out when the bottom of the bag tore open and a Pigsie fell out, still quite dead, but now sprouting metal spikes and electronic components all over its face and forelimbs, which grew and merged even in the few seconds that they watched. Idarial and Traumiel recognized that the Pigsie had become a zombot, an effect caused by zombot powder, a very nasty self-replicating form of nanite that infects the dead or wounded. It’s also highly illegal, much more so than Pigsie dust. And with that, it was time to get out the battle mats and miniatures.

Josepi got off the first shot with a tanglefoot potion, which helpfully wrapped up both the zombot-pigsie and the bag with the other Pigsie-corpses. The zombot proved too strong, though, and immediately burst its bonds and rushed Josepi, who barely dodged in time to avoid getting mauled. Traumiel considered frying its brain with a psionic bolt, but at the last second remembered that his psionic powers don’t work on robots, and he really should start bringing a gun to work. Proving the point, Tank finished off the Pigsie with a quick burst from his multigun. He and Josepi then unloaded several rounds into the bag of corpses, and finished up by setting it on fire. Traumiel wished they’d carried the bag outside before incinerating it, but as it wasn’t his shop, he wasn’t too terribly upset.

After the carnage, Idariel pointed out that they now had no pigsie corpses (or at least, none recognizable), and no way of proving to Grismerelda or Boltbiter that they’d accomplished their task. Therefore, he reasoned, Traumiel needed to come with the party to bear witness to his boss that the job was done. This also allowed the party to get Traumiel away from Moondark, so they could relay to him their suspicions about his co-worker. Traumiel didn’t really care what a human does to her brain on her own time, but he agreed to come along anyway, because he was legitimately concerned about the zombot powder, and anyway, it would get him out of the shop for a couple of hours.

Next time: What does Grismerelda know about the zombot powder? Will Traumiel join the party, or just annoy them all to death? Will they meet up with Bon Go and Stan McStan? And most important, will they get paid?