Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lamprey Centipedes, Napoleon Ants, And Bear Cubs (Oh My!)

A lot, and I mean a L-O-T, happened in our post-apocalyptic Babylon 5 Alywn Campaign's second session tonight!  The players decided to return to the Wabasha Street Caves in Lowertown, St. Paul. Their goal was to explore the caves further and recover more booze from the Booze Cavern near the Bear's Den inside the cave complex.

The PCs this session were Larissa, Big Al, Francis (a human who was raised by bears after his village was destroyed by cannibal Iowans), and Henry (the character that I created last session), who was run by Big Al's player.

The mode of travel was once again a large raft (about 15' x 15'). This time, the mid-October weather (as determined by a RPG Inspiration Card draw) was not snow but a thunderstorm. The latter is much less typical here in October than a snowstorm. A second RPG Inspiration Card draw determined that the PCs were being observed as they rafted down the river. Unfortunately, their Create Advantage roles using the Careful Approach (basically a skill) to notice being noticed were pretty miserable. Finally, Big Al's player made an Overcome Obstacle roll to see if he had improved (from relative neophyte) in poling a raft. He was definitely poling better.

So a few session Aspects:
  • Thunderstorm in October
  • Watched while unawares
  • Better poling
The PCs arrived in Lowertown, beached their raft, and approached the double door entrance to the caves. The padlock that they had picked and liberated last session had not been replaced. Instead, the door handles were roped shut; Big Al made short order of those.

When they entered the cave, the three bound and badly mauled corpses fron last session were missing. They listened carefully, and decided to explore in the direction of some skittering sounds they heard. The air was foul (thanks to a check on Hereticwerks' Cave and Tunnel Hazards I table), but Francis (the closest thing to a Druid we could ask for) used a series of animal calls and some pemmican to attract the creature.

This backfired. The creature was a giant Lamprey Centipede with a round tooth-filled maw, and clashing pincers on either side of the mouth dripping with goo (grue?). Larissa made short work of the Lamprey Centipede, however, with a well placed arrow, and Francis bug-crushed it. Icky innards - similar to the material that was inside the Short-Faced Bear from last session, splattered everywhere.

The foul taint in the air got a lot worse.

In the guts, they found some human rib bones, and a human finger wearing a gold ring with some kind of circuit-jewel on it.

The PCs decided to backstep a bit, and went back to the branch of the cave system leading to the Bear Cave and the Booze Cave. Another roll on the Cave and Tunnel Hazards table brought an encounter with some very industrious translucent ants. The walls in one area of the caverns had become porous and crumbly from the activity of these ants, who are rock-tunnelers. This was all new activity since the previous week's adventure. These ants work fast!

Big Al used his telepathic medallion, The Silent Teacher, to communicate with the ants. These ants were intentionally weakening and "reformatting" the structure of the caves. They had a collective consciousness and were quite determined to EXPAND their territory.

Their Aspects as determined in play were:
  • Creepy ants
  • They tunnel through stone
  • Expect some cave-ins
  • All about conquest
  • Time to get out of this small ant village and... expand
We decided to call them Napoleon Ants.

Big Al negotiated with them. In exchange for future favors (i.e., for more information about the caverns, and for information about their discoveries around future ant-habitations) the PCs would resettle a group of ants and their eggs somewhere outside the cave complex. He had them climb inside an empty bottle of booze for the ride back. (Did I mention that these adventurers drink and smoke on the job?)

With that matter settled, the PCs went further in. They sneaked back up to the Bear Cave, and found three scared Short-Faced Bear cubs within the cavern. Francis offered pemmican to the bear cubs and gradually won them over. They were scared, and missing their mother (who the PCs had killed the previous session). The cubs noticed that Big Al was wearing The Silent Teacher (which had previously hung around the cubs' bear-mother's neck). This creeped the cubs out a bit, but they followed Francis and the rest of the party from that point onwards.

The PCs returned to the Booze Cave, and recovered two more crates of fine liquor. They loaded up the barge and headed back with the three baby bears. There was a brief encounter with a group of brigand archers called the Red Valentines. The Valentines wanted to barter for goods, but they have a bad reputation for fighting and robbing rather than trading.

"Sounds like a shitty Valentine," Big Al said. "Not sure I want that one."

The PCs took a pass on the trade opportunity and kept moving along the river.

Francis found the three bear cubs an adoptive bear-parent in the woods.

Once they returned to Fort Snelling, Big Al's player spent a Fate Point and looked up (made up on the spot) a contact, Ambrose, who is a dealer in ancient items from before the Great Burn. The player pulled an RPG Inspiration Card for quirks/characteristics of Ambrose, and drew a card that indicated that as a quirk the character coughs frequently. We decided this meant that Ambrose had a nervous cough as an Aspect. We also identified that Ambrose likes to show off what he knows about antiquities. He gushes with information.

Ambrose identified the booze that the PCs recovered as Brivari, an ancient alien vintage from before the Great Burn. Larissa also asked him to look at the ring she had recovered. Ambrose offered to buy it; Larissa declined. Ambrose indicated that it was probably a key or controller ring for an ancient facility, vehicle, or machine.

This piqued the PCs curiosity.

Then there was the matter of the Napoleon Ants. By mutual agreement, the ants were released at some distance from the Fort, with the understanding that they would not tunnel into it. They were satisfied with that arrangement, and shared information about what else they knew about the Wabasha Street Caves (which will be shared in an upcoming post).

Before session close, the players debriefed about where they want their players to go next week. It was agreed that the PC would begin exploration of the John M. Ford Minneapolis-St. Paul Interstellar Starport, which is quite close to Fort Snelling. Their first objective will be to investigate a perimeter checkpoint or parking garage on the periphery of the long-abandoned starport.


  1. Napolean Ants--that's a classic. Sounds like a great game. Glad the table and 'morphs have come in handy.

  2. @Jim: Thanks for your comment! The ants have an interesting history, which I can't share for the moment (player SPOILERS). However, I will be posting stats for a colony in the next couple of days for the FATE Bestiary.

    Your tables have come in very useful. I am making all (well, 99%) of rolls and RPG Inspiration Card draws right in front of the players. It is very refreshing and liberating in some ways to do much less of the hidey-hidey stuff.

    A gift of the OSR, I suppose.

    1. I might add that to date we have only used two of the morphs. You can get a lot of campaign mileage out of two morphs. That has been a very pleasant surprise.

  3. I'd like to know more about this FATE Bestiary...

    1. If you take a peek at the center tab right under the masthead, I started creating a index of posts with aliens, critters, and creatures. It is pretty Catholic with respect to the different implementations of FATE.

      And I take requests.

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    3. You've accumulated a rather nice Bestiary there. Some really cool critters. This is a great resource. I can see a pdf in your future...

    4. Your comment double posted for some reason, so I removed a duplicate, FYI.

    5. Thanks very much for your comment about the FATE Bestiary, Jim! I am having fun with it, and of course there is a certain sense of accomplishment to be had from seeing one's work assembled into indexes.