Return to the Stinking Sludge

Session Summary for 3/8/09, Elves & Espers

The Party for this session consisted of Idariel 7, Twonkey, Josepi, Bon Go, and Traumiel. It has presumably been some short time (less than an hour) since the last session, and some of the party members have wandered in and out on errands of their own. The early part of the session was spent bringing Bongo and Traumiel’s players up to speed. As the result of a particularly clever Knowledge (Arcana) roll, the party now suspected that the mysterious Figure in Red from the previous session fit the description of a Super-Model, a race of technologically and magically enhanced creatures, gorgeous in appearance, near-perfect in every way, and endowed with what can only be considered “superpowers.” No one else could have held up the zombie mammoth by main strength, or moved quickly enough to be unseen while causing a sonic boom. The Super-Models had evidently taken over the city some decades back, ruled it with an iron (but immaculately manicured) fist for about a year and a half, and then abruptly vanished without trace, after which the current Lords of Infrastructure took power.

Idariel came to the conclusion that finding the Super-Model might somehow lead to the return of her investigator’s license, and she was determined to track down the figure. After the parade ended, the party trooped down to the street to examine the site of the amazing rescue. Unfortunately, investigation of the area proved fruitless; there was no way to track a figure who seemed to have vanished completely. Many bystanders had seen the event, but they had all been deafened and knocked down by the sonic boom, and were unable to provide any leads as to where the figure might have gone. The party decided to change tack and question the G-Nome family. Fortunately, some of the bystanders recognized the girl as the younger daughter of the Gruff family, so the party had somewhere to start. Visiting a G-Nome family isn’t easy, as they all live in the Web. Fortunately, getting G-Nomes to come to you is easier–you simply hire them. Idariel and Josepi made their way to the nearest G-Nome booth, where they were able to request a contract with the Gruff family. Almost immediately, a teenage boy G-Nome by the name of Bob Gruff appeared, offering to take a message. Idariel asked him about the incident, but as he had been busy working, and not attending the parade, he hadn’t heard about it yet. He agreed to carry a message to his mother Phoebe, however…for a fee, of course. Josepi grudgingly paid up, and Bob zoomed off into the Web. Not long thereafter, Phoebe showed up. After expressing their concern, and hoping her daughter was all right (she was), Idariel asked if Phoebe knew anything about the red-cloaked figure. She didn’t.

The party batted around several more ideas and quizzed the GM about Super-Models for a while, but eventually gave up the search as a dead-end. At a loss for anything better to do, Josepi and Traumiel suggested that perhaps earning some money was an acceptable alternative, so they decamped back to Barbis Boltbiter’s establishment to ask for another contract.

Barbis wasn’t in the best of moods when the party arrived — he had been expecting them right back after the parade, and had been wondering where they’d been the past few hours. Setting that aside, though, he informed the party that he’d been negotiating with Lord Shadrach, owner of the Sludge Works, over the rights to the Thaumivorous Ghost Moths. Lord Shadrach had agreed to pay the party a generous percentage of all proceeds arising from use of the Moths (of which Barbis took a cut as well). The party was naturally surprised that things had worked out well for them, through no action of their own…until Barbis mentioned the catch.

It seemed that Lord Shadrach needed a job done. Carvin Spiker, who the party had met previously, manager of the Sludge Works, and therefore employee of Shadrach, had been murdered, his office burned with him in it, and Shadrach wanted the party to investigate. (The GM explained that the police wouldn’t get involved unless they were paid to do so, and that the Lords generally handled crimes on their own properties.) Barbis made clear that the deal about the Moths was contingent on the party taking care of this, so of course they agreed immediately.

The party retraced the steps of their previous expedition, and made their way down to Poisonville. Josepi suffered from the same allergic reaction to the fumes that he had before, this time joined by nature-boy Traumiel. Eventually, the group made its way to Carvin’s office, and found it quite thoroughly torched. Carvin’s corpse sat unmoved, but deeply roasted, behind his desk. Figuring he should put his medical skills to some use, Traumiel examined the body, not entirely certain what more he could learn. He was able to definitively determine that the body was Carvin, that Carvin was quite dead…and that he’d been killed with a garrote before he had been burned. While Traumiel was playing medical examiner, the others searched the office, and noticed that Carvin’s papers had been carefully spread around before they were burned, so that nothing readable would survive. The fireproof safe had also been carefully opened and the contents burned. The party made knowing “Hmmm” noises at each other–clearly, they were dealing with professionals here. But why garrote Carvin before burning the office? Bon Go also noted a spot of flooring that appeared different…she recalled that there had been a locked drawer in that spot before, but it was gone now. Twonkey volunteered that Carvin had never let anyone see what was in that drawer before, and had locked it hastily the one time that Twonkey came into the office while it was open. Idariel attempted to Detect Arcana on the room, and was able to determine that the firebugs, whoever they were, had left behind a spell designed to mask any clues from prospective forensic investigators…and that the spell was working quite well. Idariel had been fortunate to detect it at all.

Giving up on the office, Josepi decided to canvass the neighborhood. He’d noticed a diner nearby that was not only a greasy spoon, but also a greasy knife and fork, and probably a greasy soup ladle and whatever that fork is with the three tines that no one can remember what it’s for. He introduced himself to the owner, M3j (a Droll…a cross between a dwarf and a troll, 4 feet tall and 7 feet wide -jm), and asked if anyone had seen any strange air-cars in the area. M3l was only interested in talking to paying customers, of course, so Josepi and Bon Go each bought a cup of coffee, which turned out to be surprisingly excellent. M3l still wasn’t terribly forthcoming, so Twonkey, an acquaintance of M3l, spilled the beans that Carvin had been murdered.

Meanwhile, Traumiel wasn’t about to go anywhere near a place that ostensibly served food in Poisonville, so he stayed behind. He reasoned that if the arsonists had blocked spells and technology, they might have failed to account for purely physical methods of investigation. With nothing to go on except for memories of cop shows from his youth, he cast around outside the office, and was lucky enough to locate the scorch-marks left by a landing air-car on the street just outside the office. He decided to wait until Josepi came back to see what he made of it.

Back at M3l’s, the cook was visibly upset about Carvin’s murder. After all, Carvin did considerable coffee-and-danish business with the diner. After recovering his composure, M3l opened up a bit more. He hadn’t known Carvin particularly well (people in Poisonville don’t ask too many personal questions), but it was obvious that Carvin had a little something going on the side beyond running the Sludge Works. He was known to flash some cash around, and was frequently seen with some “honeys” on his arms. Given Carvin’s rather expansive physique, it seemed likely these companions were paid. M3L recalled that they’d probably come from the Pussycat Club, and gave Josepi directions as to where to find that establishment. With a couple of new leads and a probably course of action, the players decided to call it a night.

Procession of the Psychopomp

Game Summary for 2/22/09, a somewhat abbreviated due to the presence of Rock Band

The Party (Idariel 7, Twonkey, Josepi, and Stan McStan ) made its way back from the SludgeWorks, with their captured Zombot-ratipede corpse and a bunch of the Thaumivorous Ghost-Moths that they had discovered.  They boarded the platform and were being winched back up to level 1, when they noticed a bunch of commotion in the Web, with G-Nome couriers racing back and forth on their rocket-skates. This triggered their paranoia pretty badly, as they became convinced they were about to be ambushed, but they made it back to Barbis Boltbiter’s Adventure Emporium (No Adventure Too Dangerous! No Fee Too Big!)  safely. After collecting their fee for investigating the Zombot Infestation, they began discussing cashing in on the Moths with Barbis.  As a Dwarf of honor, he insisted that they would have to negotiate with the owner of the Sludge Works, Lord Shadrach (one of the few non-Elf, non-Dwarf Lords of Infrastructure).  Somewhat surprisingly, the party saw his point. Before they got too far, however, one of Barbis’ nephews burst in with the news that a huge black blimp had docked at the Zep (the zeppelin docks), bearing the Psychopomp of Anathem, and there was going to be a procession.

The Psychopomp of Anathem is the ruler of the city of Anathem, a city that New Ark City had been at war with up until recently (a few game sessions ago) where they practiced the forbidden arts of Necrotech.  Josepi announced that there was no way he would buy that there was no connection between the Zombots they’d been encountering and the situation with Anathem. The party decided to go check out the procession.

They used their connections to find a second floor window above an apothecary from which they could watch the procession route from the Zep to the Palace of Instrumentality, where the Lord of Infrastructure meet.  The parade route was packed with people, trying to get a glimpse of the mysterious Psychopomp.

First came the music, a Heavy Metal dirge. Then came the marching guards, seven-foot-tall cadaverous humanoids in tattered gray cloaks, indistinguishable save for the slight variations in the black patterns on their ivory masks, rifles over their shoulders.  Following them was the Psychopomps float, drawn by a pair of Zombie Mammoths.  Occupying the rear of the float was a steam calliope, from which the music wailed.  In the center of the float, supported on iron bars, was the Psychopomp itself…a grey metal sphere, 10 feet in diameter, bound in loops of darker metal. Nobody knows whether it is a machine intelligence, a sentient artifact, or is there something else, something organic, encased inside.

Kneeling around the Psychopomp were pairs of figures, one set each of the Precursor races, Human, Elf, Dwarf, Gnome, Orc, Dryad and Satyr…all attractive and richly dressed in elaborate robes and jewels, several wearing crowns, and all chained by their necks to the Psychopomp’s float.  Their eyelids have been sewed shut.

Behind the Psychopomp’s float, row after row of iron-collared human soldiers bearing spears.

Just then, as the party was discussing “Why aren’t we at war with these guys any more?” a small figure skidded from one of the cables that make up the web, and tumbled to the street in front of the stamping feet of the Zombie Mammoths. It was a G-Nome girl, with small goat-horns and little cupid wings, who had slipped as she was racing by….

Stan McStan started desperately slapping together a robot, knowing that there was no way he could finish in time.  Twonky contemplated jumping from the window, only to conclude that he would crush more people than rescuing the kid would save.  Idariel and Josepi stared helplessly.

The mammoth’s foot descended, then stopped in mid-air.  Kneeling beneath the foot, holding it up with one hand, was a figure completely swathed in bandages, wearing a red, hooded cloak.  The other mammoth, being just a zombie, obliviously tried to continue forward, and the float started to swerve.  The Corpse Guards turned, raising their enormous rifles. The figure scooped up the G-Nome girl and darted from beneath the foot, the mammoth stumbling then continuing onward.  Red-cloak deposited the girl at the side of the road, just at the edge of the crowd, as the Guard leveled their rifles.

By this point Stan had snapped together a hawkbot, and sent it winging towards the scene, with instructions to interpose itself between the riflemen and Red-cloak (and the crowd), international incident be damned.  Before the riflemen actually opened fire, there was a sonic boom, glass rattling and cracking in most of the nearby windows and the rifleman were knocked from their feet…the first row of riflemen’s weapons all snapped in half, and Red-cloak was gone.

Stan recalled his hawkbot before (he hoped) it could be observed by any of the Psychopomp’s minions. It was at this point that he noticed some wetness on his upper lip… his nose was bleeding. Nobody else suffered this (they all made their vigor rolls), and he shook his fist at the Psychopomp and muttered something about “Keep out of my head!”  Eventually, after a bunch of men in the livery of the Lords of Infrastructure showed up and had earnest discussions with the Psychopomp’s servants, the procession straightened itself out and made its way out of sight towards the Palace of Instrumentality.

The rest of the session was spent discussing what the Red-cloaked figure could possibly have been, whether they should try and find the G-nome girl, who they saw had been grabbed up by her mother, why the sudden peace with Anathem, and what the connection might be between the zombots and the Psychopomp.

Tw-0n (key->green): an Elves & Espers Character

Concept: A Hazmat Transport & Disposal Droid

Agility d4
Smarts d4
Spirit d6
Strength d6
Vigor d10

Pace 6, Parry 4, Toughness 7, Charisma -1

Edges: AB: Super, Power Points +5 (x2), Take the Hit (+2 to Soak rolls)
Hindrances: Distinctive Appearance (Waste Disposal Droid), Clueless (-2 to Common Knowledge), Quirk: No Sense of Time
Powers: Ageless(1), Absorption (Magic 4, transference +?), Absorption(Fire/Heat 4), Armor +4 (4), Attack: Wrench (Melee, Heavy Weapon) (4)

Doug’s write-up:

Twonky Green- Hazardous Materials Transport and Disposal droid.

Twonky was a magical residue transport droid deep in the heart of the New Ark City power generation station.  Unfortunately, during the time when Gax was first starting to lose his grip on the city, minor mistakes were beginning to be made, but the aura of infallibility was still being maintained.  One of those mistakes was a change of classification of TW-0N(Key-Green)from automaton to living creature when its transport permit was being renewed at the Department of Moving Vehicles. Normally, this wouldn’t have caused much fuss, except that living creatures aren’t allowed to work inside the power generation area due to the extreme toxicity of the environment, and Twonky was flagged for immediate removal. Repeated visits to the Department of Moving Vehicles to demonstrate his non-living status failed to change their minds, since, as non-security droids, they were forbidden from injuring a living being, which, of course, included changing status from living to not living. The one upside is that living being status has kept him from being “upgraded” and having his idiosyncrasies, errors, bit shifts and buffer overruns put back to normal.

This situation left Twonky without a real purpose.  He was unable to find work in the living being world. Who would hire something that was bathed in ultra-magic for centuries?  So after wandering the arcology for days, months, or years being bored and occasionally making off with full garbage cans, he ended up in the remains of the Broken Spire.  While not nearly as magically charged as his previous job, at least the nice glow reminded him of home.  So he decided that he would make the cleanup of the Broken Spire his new purpose.

It’s been centuries since Twonky started.  The decay of the Spire itself isn’t helping any, but there are a few patches of the Spire that are now almost clean. It’s possibly that he may even finish a whole disk before the tower collapses.

Hey. It’s a job.

I see Twonky as being somewhat irritating to most living beings. Not intentionally, but Twonky tends to take the _long_ view of things.  Time has less meaning to him.  He’s been around thousands of years already. He doesn’t sleep, so there’s no concept of “tomorrow.”  He’s in the middle of his multi-millennia day, and when he eventually turns of, that’s it.


Twonky was generated with Necessary Evil super-powers, which is not generally an option for Elves & Espers characters (except for Trooper’s powered armor).  Doug tried not to be abusive, but the actual stats may be subject to change if it appears to be too much.  Mostly the NE versions of things are helpful for perma powers like Twonky’s Absorbtion…the core version of Super Powers have short durations that make things like immunity to radiation impossible except for brief periods.  I’ll probably be discussing this with Doug some more, but I didn’t want to hold up the game, particularly over something that wasn’t likely to come up during the session.  One thing I’ll probably disallow outright is Twonky’s wrench counting as a Heavy Weapon.

Descent into the Fetid Depths

Session Summary for 1/4/2009 Elves & Espers campaign

This session we had a new addition to our gaming group: Andrew, Elyssa’s step-brother, and his girlfriend Sarah (who had never gamed before, but agreed to come along and watch).  Andrew took over playing Tank McSplatter, and Doug switched to a new character he’d come up with since we last played.

Last session our intrepid band of adventurers (Idariel 7, Elven Technomancer; Stan McStan, Dwarven Robomancer; Tank McSplatter, Hobbit Trooper; Bon Go, Human Enforcer; Josepi Vincenti, Human Roguechemist) managed to get paid for clearing the Pigsies out of Batwings & Things despite the subsequent destruction of the entire shop by a group of mercenaries apparently hired to burn the place, possibly to destroy any evidence of trafficking in Zombot dust, by the simple expedient of not mentioning the shop’s destruction when they went to pick up their pay.

This session they decided to take the contract from Barbis Boltbiter, their Adventure Broker, to investigate a possible sighting of Zombots in Poisonville, the sewage-disposal and heavy industrial chemical plant section of town…which is right down on the roof of the arcology below the spire, to keep it out of the way.  They figure that there’s no way the Zombot Dust they found (when it turned the dead Pigsies into Zombots) could be unrelated to possible Zombot activity elsewhere.  Also, the pay (4000 creds for a simple look-see) is nothing to sneeze at, despite the potentially highly unpleasant nature of the surroundings.

Determining that the best (free) way to get down to Poisonville was to take the elevator, they were winched over the side of the disk on an open platform cranked by an Ogre-M.A.G.E (Magically Augumented Genetically Engineered) and lowered into the greenish stinking fog that hung over Poisonville.  Arriving at the bottom after about twenty minutes of swaying and lurching, they found themselves standing in a landscape dominated by industrial-sized pipes, covered in blotchy rust and slime, surrounded by foul fetid greenish fog that made their eyes sting and noses water (Josepi had particular problems, having failed a Vigor roll, and fashioned a makeshift mask out of a handkerchief).  Shapeless things humped and slithered along in the shadows, and a ratipede (a mutant rat with a hundred legs) scuttled across the street as bold as you please in front of them.   The street was dotted with puddles of rainblow (sic) colored ooze.  The contract they had listed as their contact a Dwarf named Carvin Spiker, a supervisor at the SludgeWorks.  They found the plant, where gigantic transparent tubes blorped and gurgled disgusting brown and black sludge, and decided that Idariel and Josepi would go talk to Carvin while the rest of them hung around outside, so as not to spook him with an army of heavily-armed goons.

They climbed the rickety, rusting stairs and entered the plant through a submarine-style hatch; there they found a catwalk high above the tanks and pipes of the works, and a tiny office with windows that might once have been transparent back when the sun was yellow.  But maybe not even then.  In the office, piled high with the bureaucratic detritus of ages, punctuated by the occasional out-of-date Miss Galaxy calendar or “sexy” dwarf pin-up, behind the desk they found an amorphous blob of flesh.  Could this actually be the Dwarf they were looking for?  It opened one rheumy eye and croaked, “Yah?”

They explained they were there to investigate the Zombot sighting, and after some grumbling, Carvin told them that while he filed the report, it was an employee who had actually spotted the Zombot…They asked to speak with him, and Carvin called over Tw-0N (key->green), or as he called him “Twonky”… an ancient robot, from a time back before aesthetics had been invented.  Twonky (Doug’s new character) was a fairly featureless grey, boxy humanoid, with various hazard stickers affixed to him, his call-letters stamped on his back, glowing faintly with magical radiation.  Idariel asked if they could borrow him for a while, and Carvin indicated that he would appreciate if they not only borrowed him, but managed to lose him.  The plant had been trying to decommission him for ages, but been thwarted by red-tape: Twonky had unfortunately at one point, back when Gax had just begun losing its grip, been mis-classified as human and the robot bureaucracy had been unable to correct the mistake since classifying a human being as a robot would have violated the First Law.

Twonky led the entire party towards Sludge Vat #7, where he had seen the potential Zombot.  The Zombot had been in the form of a Ratipede, but it shambled rather than scuttled, and had metal jaws and (organic) eyes protruding on metallic eye-stalks, so Twonky had steered clear and simply reported it as per plant procedures.  Climbing and descending metal ladders and crossing swaying catwalks over glowing green radioactive goo, they headed towards Vat #7.  At one point, they found themselves in the middle of a swarm of giant, glowing albino moths with ectoplasmic wings, that settled on their clothing and hair.  Idariel (with an amazingly good Arcane Knowledge roll) managed to identify them as a giant, mutant version of a rare thaumivorous (magic-eating) moth.  After a brief panic that the moths were after their goods, they decided that they were just feeding on the magical soot that was coating them from the fog that permeated Poisonville.  Idariel decided to gather a bunch of the moths in a handy sack, for further study, and after accomplishing this, they made the rest of the way to Vat #7 without incident.

There, they found places in the metallic wall where something had chewed new rat holes, annoying Twonky, who had cleaned the area just a few weeks ago.  Stan snapped together a mini robot with a camera, and sent it down the hole to take a look, telling it to sound an alarm and run away if anything started chewing on it.  It didn’t take long before they heard the whoop-whoop of the robot’s alarm, and it came scuttling back, trailing one damaged leg.  Idariel began scanning the hole with his Pentacorder, looking for what did it, while Stan replayed the robot’s memory; they both came to the same conclusion: the robot had been attacked by a Zombot Ratipede that was even now shambling through the tunnels in the wall towards them to feast on their flesh.  The video from the robot was technically all they needed to fulfill their contract (and this group was nothing if not technical about fulfilling their contracts), but they decided to fight the Zombot anyway, if only so it wouldn’t be following them.

As soon as the Zombot Ratipede poked its nose (and eyestalks) out of the hole, Tank opened fire with his Multi-Gun, and blew big gobbets of flesh off it, revealing the glistening tubes and wires that animated it.  It twitched and lay still.  Stan, as an expert on robots, recalled that Zombots would regenerate after “death” unless they were burned.  At this point, Idariel 7 had a brilliant idea.  They would unleash the thaumivorous moths on the corpse, and see if that would prevent it from regenerating.  Stan and Josepi were dubious that it wouldn’t just result in Zombot moths that would destroy the entire arcology, but Idariel was insistent that since the Zombot dust could only infect you through a wound and the moths weren’t wounded, there was nothing to worry about.  Besides, the party was overdue for unleashing a setting-destroying horror.

To everybody’s surprise but Idariel’s, the plan worked, and the Zombot Ratipede failed to revive.  Further scans of the area revealed no more Zombots (itself somewhat puzzling), but evidence that the other Ratipedes had been giving the infected one wide berth, and the party decided that some combination of the lack of any life-forms to infect besides the wary and swift Ratipedes and the presence of the thaumivorous moths in and about the area had contained the Zombot infestation.  At this point, Idariel realized that this might be the big score he had been looking for… the ticket back to getting the 100,000 creds he needed to reinstate his license.

They took the Zombot corpse with them, contained in a metal box along with some of the moths (with holes in the lid, of course), and hurried back to Carvin’s office to use the phone, both to tell Barbis about the Zombot they had found and potentially negotiate with him over the discovery of the mutant moths.  The conversation didn’t begin well, with Barbis having just found out from the very unhappy Grismerelda that the shop had burned to the ground–Idariel attempted to persuade him that it wasn’t any of their doing (true enough) even though they hadn’t somehow seen fit to mention the incident to Grismerelda when collecting their pay.  The conversation wasn’t going well, even with Idariel coming clean over exactly what had happened at the shop, including the Pigsie that reanimated as a Zombot, until he happened to mention his potentially lucrative discovery and willingness to cut Barbis in on the action.  “Cha-ching!”   They agreed to meet and talk in person, rather than over an unsecured line in somebody else’s office. Meanwhile, the rest of the party was engaging Carvin in conversation, attempting to keep him completely distracted once they realized that Idariel was discussing this potentially immensely valuable find in the presence of a third party, one moreover with interests and responsibilities to his employer that ran counter to the party’s scheme to make themselves rich with something found in that employer’s factory….this seemed to be successful, particularly once they got Carvin–secretly something of a civic booster–started on the topic of how Poisonville’s reputation for pollution and ill-health was really undeserved, why, look at him, he’d been working at the plant for hundreds of years now and he was still a fine figure of a Dwarf, if he said so himself…

And there we broke for the evening.

Elves & Espers: CybOrcs

CybOrcs are a cybernetically enhanced Orcs, linked together into a hive-mind.  They are the enemies of all other races, but most particularly the Elves; other races will be enslaved or eaten to sustain the organic parts of CybOrcs…Elves are converted into CybOrcs.  CybOrcs can no longer reproduce sexually, so capture and conversion of Elves is their highest priority.  CybOrcs are nomadic, living and traveling on gigantic self-propelled towns/gun-platforms (sometimes called Ogres).  The towns move slowly, barely at a walking pace, but where they pass nothing living remains.  The towns can never stop moving…once they do it is impossible for them to start again and the CybOrc organism will quickly exhaust its local supply of food and minerals and die… so it is sometimes possible to flee while the CybOrcs pass and return to try and rebuild from the wreckage.  The CybOrcs and Ogre form a single entity: what one knows, they all know.  CybOrcs scout and raiding parties range well in advance of the Ogre, finding prey and making sure the terrain is passable for the Ogre’s huge body and gigantic treads.   CybOrcs seldom speak, having little to say to other races, and when they do it is mostly to croak in a deadly monotone “Resistance is futile if it is less than 1 Ohm”, “Prepare to be incorporated”, or “Your biological and technical diversity will be ground to make our bread.”  Despite this, it is sometimes possible to bargain or negotiate with the CybOrcs if you can do so from a position of strength.  Unfortunately, since a direct hit by a nuke will only inconvenience a CybOrc/Ogre village, gaining an undeniable position of strength can be hard to achieve.  CybOrcs are ruthlessly utilitarian, however, and will never pursue prey out of vindictiveness, so they can often be turned aside or eluded if some richer prize presents itself.  When calculating benefit, capturing Elves is almost always top priority.


Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Strength d8, Spirit d6, Vigor d8

Skills: Shooting d6, Fighting d6, Throwing d4, Notice d6, Intimidation d8, Stealth d4

Pace:Parry: 5 Toughness: 11

Gear: Infantry Battlesuit (+4), Blaster 2d8+1, ROF3, 24/48/96, -2 Acc, Chainsaw Arm 2d6+4 (no botch on a 1)

Special Abilities: Size (+1), Hive-Mind (what one is aware of all are aware of), Fearless (immune to magical effects and intimidation)

The above is a typical CybOrc drone, though the weaponry carried often varies.  Other varieties are less often encountered, but include Heavy Weapons units (with full powered armor), Esper units (with AB: Psionics), etc.

Note that the Hive-Mind aspect can work as a disadvantage, in that if an Esper manages to influence one CybOrc, they are all influenced.  Physical damage from Esper powers is divided across all the CybOrcs bodies, which makes it pretty much impossible to actually harm them that way, but subtler Esper powers such as Puppet will work on them all at once.  There is a danger, however, for every turn the Esper remains in contact with the CybOrc hive-mind there is a chance that the Esper’s mind will be overwhelmed and incorporated into the CybOrc collection: roll a straight Spirit vs. Spirit contest.  The CybOrc hive-mind is treated as a Wild Card when Esper powers are involved even if all of its drones are Extras, so it gets a Wild Die.  If the CybOrcs ever win the contest, the Esper becomes one of them and her mind is lost forever.  CybOrcs cannot directly be forced to commit suicide via Puppetry, but can be tricked into actions that will spell their destruction, such as walking into lava.

Elves & Espers: Klangons

Klangons are a race of bumpy-headed cyborg warriors, fierce and proud.  Klangons are the name given to them by other races, for the way they borg themselves until they clang when they walk.  Their own name for themselves translates to “The People” (or literally, The Non-Wusses).


Tough – +1 Toughness
– +2 Armor (negated by AP weapons)
Warrior – Klangons start with a d6 in Fighting
Death Wish – For Klangons, today is always a good day to die.  Klangons seek to die in glorious battle, and while they won’t start unwinnable fights for no reason at all, if given a reason to fight overwhelming odds are considered yet another reason in favor of engaging in combat.
Arrogant – Klangons know they’re better than everybody else, and see no reason to keep it secret.

Situational Ethics

Session Summary for 12/7/08: Elves & Espers

When a typical Rambling Bumblers session starts up, there’s often quite a bit of dithering, and we try to find our feet in the scenario, and try to recapture exactly what it was that we were going to do next, which, after a break, doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore. I used to think that was only natural, since often months or even years can pass between sessions of a particular campaign. As it turns out, even if we only have a week in between sessions, there’s still dithering.

Continue reading “Situational Ethics”

Elves & Espers: Drowleks

Drowleks are one of the most feared and hated races in the universe, committed to wiping out all non-Drowlek life everywhere.  Long ago they were a sub-species of Elf that lived underground, until the byproducts of their incessant warfare with the surface-dwellers poisoned their land and nearly killed off their species.  A mad genius constructed cyborg bodies for the remaining members of their species and they set out to cleanse the universe of non-Drowleks, uttering their piercing battle-cry of “Annihilate! Annihilate!”  Physically Drowleks resemble black and silver chess pawns, with eight spider-like legs sprouting from their underside, and a pair of pointed flanges that somewhat resemble Elven ears and have a Jacob’s-ladder electrical effect making a chilling drizzt-drizzt sound when active; these  are the primary ranged weapon of the Drowleks, and can fire tremendous bolts of lightning at enemies.  Their front two legs can extend scimitar-like blades for fighting in melee. Drowleks are nearly impervious to physical harm, but the magical Impermium metal of their outer casings is weakened by sunlight.


Attributes: Agil d4, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Str d12, Vigor d10
Skills: Fighting d8, Shooting d10, Intimidation d10, Notice d6
Pace: 6 on any solid surface Parry: Toughness: 11
Gear: 2 Scimitars: Str+d8, Lightning Generator: 2d10 Cone attack, ignores metal armor (except self-powered armor, which is presumed to be shielded)

Special Abilities:
Ambidextrous – ignore off-hand penalty.
Armor – +4
Construct – +2 recover from Shaken; immune to disease, poison, aging; called shots do no extra damage; no wound modifiers.  Does not heal, must be repaired.
Fearless – Drowleks cannot be scared or Intimidated, even by magic, though they may proceed with caution if the situation warrants it.
Force Field – Drowleks cannot be harmed by non-Heavy weapons, and count as having Superior Magic Resistance
Sensors – Drowleks suffer no penalty for complete darkness, but are -1 in sunlight, and -2 in bright sunlight (but no penalties for equivalent artificial illumination).
Sphere of Annihilation – The orb on top of the “pawn” contains a Sphere of Annihilation, held in place magically. If it does nothing else during a turn, not even move, the Drowlek can unsheathe the sphere.  Anything that touches the sphere, other than Drowleks, is instantly completely annihilated.  A Drowlek with its sphere exposed is incapable of movement.  It requires another full turn to sheathe it once again.  The Drowlek can also cause the Sphere to expand: on the first turn, the Sphere encompasses the 1″ square the Drowlek occupies, on the second turn it occupies a Medium Burst Template; on the third turn is occupies a Large Burst Template, which is as large as it can get.  This does not harm the Drowlek, but it can not perform any other actions once the sphere has expanded, nor perceive what is going on outside the sphere or communicate with other Drowleks; it will remain blind and immobile until it shrinks the sphere back to its normal size.  While it is in the Sphere is cannot be perceived or targetted in any way, not even by magic or psionics.  Shrinking the Sphere takes the same amount of time as growing it.
Two-Fisted – no multi-action penalty for using both Scimitars at once.
Hated – by ancient tradition and pure self-interest all cultures and races will put aside their differences temporarily in order to fight Drowleks.
Weakness – Sunlight degrades Drowlek armor;  sunlight-based attacks are +2 AP (they must be defined as being sunlight-based, and not ordinary light…generally speaking this requires magical attacks, not lasers), and each turn of exposure to sunlight reduces the protection offered by the armor by 1.  Shade will stop the degredation, and darkness reverse it at the same rate.
Xenophobe – will never agree, even temporarily, to cooperate with a member of another race.

Elves & Espers: The Broken Spire

The Broken Spire is the Westernmost of the spires that comprise the New (upper) part of New Ark City.  It is called Broken not because the physical structure has been compromised, but because all the systems have failed and cannot be repaired.  When queried, Gax–the Giant Thaumaturgic Brain in charge of the city–always replies that repairs are underway as he has done for at least the past millennium.  No broadcast power reaches the Broken Spire, and all equipment that hasn’t been modified to be self-sustaining, including but not limited to all standard models of air-car and beam weaponry, cease to function well before they get to the edge of any of the Broken Spire’s discs.

Visual inspection with image amplification shows that the discs and tower itself are mostly intact, with some signs of wear, but the Web connecting them is in tatters, and all the cables that ordinarily connect the spires to each other have fallen.  Most of the visible buildings are at least partially ruined, and appear to have been damaged by some combination of fire, weather, weaponry, and neglect.  High levels of thaumaturgic radiation prevents a closer inspection with any scrying gear, though at night the naked eye can see the glimmer of campfires.  The spire is dark and brooding, and most inhabitants of the other spires prefer not to regard it too closely, to the extent that the regions of the discs closest to it (save for the Eastern disc on the far side of the Spire of Ark, and the Spire of Ark itself, which lacks all discs) are the “low-rent” areas of the city.

Adventurers occasionally mount expeditions to the Broken Spire, and those that return tell tales of primitive tribes, cut off for so long from the rest of the city that even the descendants of the Elves have forgotten their common heritage and speak a language unknown to modern ears.  The pervasive thaumaturgic radiation has given rise to horrible mutations, and the primitives of the Spire are barely recognizable as the descendants of the species that inhabit the rest of the city if indeed that they are, and not some other races that once lived in New Ark and have now been forgotten, or invaders from outside the Arcology altogether.  Monsters and abominations abound, again whether the mutant offspring of domesticated creatures such as the beasts of burden that pull the bulette-trains or the various helpful oozes that keep the city clean, or invasive species from elsewhere that have colonized in the absence of the city’s normal security systems, none can say.

Wondrous treasures are said to be found there, relics of an almost forgotten era when New Ark City was in full flower, and all the city’s functions were efficiently carried out by Gax, while the college of the Tower of Ark turned out marvels and miracles of modern thaumatology, the design, construction and operation of which have since been lost, or the parts having been cannibalized to patch the increasingly creaking and overburdened systems of the aging arcology and the vast spires, once teeming with more millions of inhabitants than now seems conceivable, now a shadow of their former glory.


The Broken Spire is intended to be the “Gamma World” part of the city, and a suitable place for wild-and-woolly mutant-filled adventures without leaving the arcology entirely for adventures in the Badlands.  Stuff powered by the characters Power Points will still function, but ordinary gear (such as laser pistols, communicators, blasters and the like) won’t work unless the characters spend extra money to equip themselves with (bulkier) self-powered gear.

Elves & Espers: COBOLds

COBOLds are biological constructs left over from a previous era, designed as workers to do all the dirty and dangerous infrastructure jobs. Although looked down on and widely regarded as obsolete compared to the shiny new droids, they still do most of the grunt-work that keeps the arcology running because they still work and it would be too expensive to replace them.  They are short, stocky humanoids, completely bald, with blue skins and big noses.  They are persistent, but not very creative, and have little sense of self-preservation. When they do appear in the upper city, they are looked upon with a mixture of disdain and pity.


Construct – +2 to recover from being shaken, immune to poison, disease, radiation, and aging
Hardy – A second Shaken result doesn’t amount to a wound.
Small – -1 Vigor
Outsider – -2 Cha

Because of their backgrounds, in New Ark City COBOLds are forbidden to take AB:Esper, AB:Trooper, or AB: Roguechemist.