The darkness of the night was complete, the Spectral Corsair lying silent in its shrouding embrace. The only sound was that of the fizzing of electrical shorts and crackle of growing flames.
The crash had taken a great toll upon the ship, but an even greater one on her crew: Karter lay unconscious from the crash; Mehr was battered and broken; and 8-Bit was twisted and close to death. Hanbal, Ozgare and Norsa were bruised and beaten but were otherwise alright.
The three of them gathered together to assess the damage: there were multiple hull breaches; the cargo bay lay open to the elements; the Reactor had automatically shutdown and looked like it had no intention of firing up ever again; and, perhaps most worrying of all, the ship’s Chapel had been smashed and the altars to the Icons were scattered. But this wasn’t the end of their troubles. Not only were fires taking hold across the ship but some creatures were outside, trying to get in…
They faced them in the cargo hold, as Ozgare and Norsa tried to douse the flames. The beasts were Cavernhags, parasitical creatures that feed upon power cables and energy couplings, four-legged gnat-like monsters with huge claws and a gnawing mouth in the centre of its body. The fight was a tough one, but eventually they fought them off and managed to seal the hull breaches well enough to stop more coming through.
By the time dawn broke and the Cavernhags withdrew into the depths of the forests they had secured the ship, extinguished the fires and safely placed their wounded colleagues in stasis, the ship struggling on emergency power that would last maybe 48 hours. They needed 8-Bit, to fix the ship. But how to bring him around without a functioning medbay or anyone with more than basic first aid skills?
Then Ozgare remembered the Ziggurat and the casket they found. Alina told of a mythical Portal Builder artefact, the Chrysallis Pod, that had reputed powers of rejuvenation. It had kept that woman, the survivor they found, alive. Maybe it could revive 8-Bit enough to repair the ship and get them all off this Icon-forsaken planet. So they took 8-Bit’s unconscious form from stasis, jury-rigged a stretcher for Norsa to pull, and set off into the forest, on the journey back to the stone ruins and the Ziggurat.
They knew they weren’t alone, and before long a group of primitives attacked them in the forest. This first assault was easy enough to ward off, leaving four natives dead and the rest fleeing, but Hanbal, Ozgare and Norsa knew the primitives were never going to be far away. And they weren’t far away. Soon they were attacked again, this time with greater numbers. Despite desperate efforts they were over-run, and they all fell broken. When they came to their senses they found themselves exactly where they wanted to be, atop the Ziggurat at the settlement of the stone ruins. So, once again here they were, surrounded by natives wielding primitive weapons, trapped on the ancient building.
Now they knew about the carnivorous plants they were easy enough to deal with, allowing them to concentrate on pulling the casket from the water. They placed 8-Bit into its clutches and closed the lid. Was it really a Portal Builder marvel? Well, yes it was, and 8-Bit fell from it, shocked but breathing and healed! Not only was this healing a wonderful thing to witness, but the value of this artefact didn’t escape them. They rigged up a lever and pulley system to haul the pod from the depths of the Ziggurat, and set it safe and secure on the top.
But they were still stuck, surrounded on all sides by wary gangs of natives. They took a critical decision, and decided to be aggressive, attack with everything they had and then make a run for it through the forest. To break the line before them they pushed the casket over the top. It rolled down the steps, forming a shield before them and gathering pace as it went. The primitives scattered, but the Chrysallis Pod, one of the rarest Portal artefacts in the Third Horizon, hit the ground with such force that it shattered into millions of useless shards.
What a waste, but then at least it have given them a chance of survival.
They broke through the natives’ line and ran as if The Beast himself was on their heels. The escape was hard-won, and the chase was a close run thing. But they made it back to the safety of the Corsair. 8-Bit was able to secure the parts of the ship open to the elements and re-started the reactor. Hanbal nursed her into the air, battered and shaking. But they made orbit. Then they made the short run to the nearest space port of any facility, at the small settlement on the nearby planet Talacia.
A chance to repair the ship, to heal their friends, to draw a deep breath before their trials continue…
View from the GM’s Chair:
This was a bit of a bottle episode, that I finally decided to run after a few false starts. Two of my players were long-term unavailable (Karter and Mehr). Rather than have a really long gap I chose to run it with four players, only for Paul (8-Bit) to suddenly be unavailable too. I had intended to run the scenario as a “go to the wreck of the colony ship Ryvius and salvage what they need to repair the Corsair” game. But this needed 8-Bit… So with a little tweak I made the game one where reviving 8-Bit was the objective. The game was very combat orientated, and I was a bit worried that this might increase the chances of one of the guys getting killed.
I remember thinking that killing one of the PCs when only a few of the players were available might be a bit unfair, but in retrospect this seems a bit silly to me now. I’m not sure why I felt this way: maybe because certain (healing?) skills would not be in the group for the game; or maybe because some of their key combat characters would not be there to help. So, I subtley shifted my emphasis from critical hits to damage towards being broken which, in the game, worked really well (as the result of being broken by the natives was that they would be put back on the ziggurat, which is exactly where they wanted to go anyway!). That said, I did have one critical hit against Norsa, and the tension when rolling those dice (especially when the player was Connor, who had already lost Captain Valdez to a harsh critical dice roll) was palpable!
For the next two sessions we have all the players back in the room, so we will see what happens when they finally (finally!) get to Odacon…