Silent Legions: Surface Tension (Session 3)

Silent Legions, Grifton, 3

Jason put in a call to Ralf Singleton’s law office to see if he could get an appointment on behalf of Helouise Havershaum. While they had lunch from the hospital cafeteria, Singleton’s office called back and offered them a 2:30 appointment the same day!

As they drove to his downtown office, Terry updated Amelia on the story thus far, including speculation as to the nature of the fomori threat and Singleton’s role in the story.

They got in through security, heading up to the 40th floor (of 60) and taking in the windowless earth-tone art deco with fountain atmosphere. They met with Singleton in an opulent meeting room with a black stone table. (While waiting, Truc helped himself to the fancy chocolate truffles, nervously eating, while Jason tried out the tea infuser.)

One of the Men Behind the Curtain

Singleton joined them, looking trim and expensive. He admitted that he was behind their peculiar luck; he had tracked each of them down after the Sears ruin incident and pulled strings to arrange for them to end up in different jobs. He had a spy keeping close tabs on Ghoulaxis/Gunderson, so he knew that Ghoulaxis would be targeting Helouise, and he knew when and where. He arranged for those from the Sears ruin incident (who rescued him) to be on hand to thwart the assault.

Back in 1998, he was a lowly enforcer. His people were attacking Ghoulaxis’ operation, and Singleton was the one who shot and killed the monster; the body shriveled, but the blood of the immensely powerful creature flowed into that pothole, and unknown to anyone, created a dimensional pocket or kellipot or whatever term you want to use. There, Ghoulaxis held on, neither living nor dying.

Decades later, Gunderson’s nearby dreaming roused him, and he got into Gunderson. That’s when all this trouble started. The Gangplank connects to his pocket dimension and allows his energy minions to take human bodies, if those taking the drug are strong enough dreamers. He’s now force-feeding massive doses to those who proved susceptible during the “recreational” testing phase, creating more monsters for his army.

Ghoulaxis was burning through Gunderson, the host body, and he needed Helouise as a new host. The host had to be a powerful dreamer. If he was denied his host, his presence would wither and he would be forced out of the dimension. His connection to Singleton was that he resented Singleton shooting and killing him almost 20 years ago, and wanted to make him suffer and eventually die because of that.

Singleton wanted to use Terry, Truc, and Jason (and now Emilia) to keep Ghoulaxis off balance and wary of an unrevealed foe. He was reluctant to involve more of the Powers, whatever that means. He already involved one other.

He provided them with detailed schematic plans of the Sears ruin where Ghoulaxis still lurked, showing where he had his drugged victims who were mutating into monsters, and the armored hard point of the pothole, which he zealously protected. Ghoulaxis projected energy from his home dimension through the pothole to control a body and act in this dimension, and he didn’t want anyone interfering with it.

Next Steps

Singleton left them with Frank, his underling, who could provide them with assistance. After Singleton left, they strategized next moves, and Frank chimed in from time to time. He offered them two assault teams of four men each, as well as access to military grade hardware.

They went down to the basement, to Armory Annex A, where there were many guns, melee weapons, explosives, and body armor. They loaded up with what seemed like a good fit, including customized body armor for Truc and Jason. Terry flirted with the thin woman who ran the armory, and she got handsy with him.

Since a battle at the hospital would be disastrous, they decided to strike at the Sears ruin and draw down his forces. Team A would use a heavy machine gun and flamethrower to attack the front of the ruin to attract security, then Team B would take a stolen semi truck and drive through the back wall to get at the sleepers; they were so poisoned and traumatized death would be a mercy, and cut the lifeline of reinforcement monsters for Ghoulaxis. Then Team C (the PCs) would cover Team B and act opportunistically if they saw an opening to hurt Ghoulaxis more. If Ghoulaxis showed up, they were to retreat.

Assaulting the Ruin

Team A was in position, and Team B split into a pair to steal the truck and a pair to get in position with Team C. They were spotted on the approach, and a flying monster crushed one of the commandos. They opened fire on it, downing it eventually, but a ball of meat came up out of its back and twirled, streaking some of them in a sort of amniotic mucus. Shotgun blasts brought the monster down, and the meaty ball was shot open to reveal many grub-like squirming things.

The stolen truck trundled towards the back of the building and was attacked by two more bug monsters; Team C managed to bring one down more or less, and the other got on the truck roof. The driver used an explosive to kill himself and hit the monster at close range, and the flaming truck drove into the wall.

As they approached the breach, a missile streaked down out of the dark night sky, penetrating a sky light and going deep into the Sears ruin. The explosion was massive. They held back, unsure about proceeding, and there was another strike. It seemed like someone was using a drone to drop military-grade missiles on the building!

The last commando with them took his flamethrower and headed up to the breach, spraying napalm inside. He jogged back and reported that there was a chemical tank (it exploded) and the dreamers were likely toast. They retreated.

Loose Ends

After a couple hours driving around losing any possible tail, they rendezvoused in the Winsteads parking lot and got back into their vehicle. (No one asked them to give the guns and armor back.) They went their separate ways, sobered by the implications of a new faction getting involved and firebombing the Sears ruin.

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Dead of Night: Willfully Blind

I put together an ad hoc gaming group online composed of Bryan, Miller, Slade, Jack, and Kristy. We tried out a new game system, Dead of Night, to provide the structure for a game in the Supernatural world, like the tv show.

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Grandpa Silas is a monster hunter who tends to move into a situation, evaluate it, and then delegate the hunt to others. He is part of the Starkweather clan, a far-flung extended family that trains some of its members to hunt monsters. Silas put out the call for all hands on deck in the little town of Vancleave, Mississippi. He found a vampire nest there, but that’s no big deal; one or two hunters could sort that out.

He also found suggestion that Blind Men might be involved. They are old men, blind, silent, and in past encounters hunters have discovered that they are dead. Some other force animates and controls them, and the Starkweather clan would very much like to know more about that. This could be a chance to find out.

The hunters responding to the call agreed to meet at the Ye Olde Taverne across the parking lot from a Holiday Inn. There was even a snug that they could rent to have some strategy discussion upon arrival.

  • Lou Starkweather. Rustic and solid, a farmer with a trucker cap and overalls driving an old red and white Mercury truck. Prefers to be underestimated and dismissed by monsters, until it’s too late.
  • Ian Weatherly. Grad student studying folklore, still bright-eyed and energetic. Hitched a ride with Lou, Grandpa Silas wanted them to partner on this one.
  • Carlton Starkweather. Crime doctor, conducting back-alley surgeries for a price (and hearing all the most interesting underworld gossip.) He showed up in a beat-up station wagon.
  • Simon Starkweather. An emergency medical technician, signing on for shifts wherever his travels take him, trying to save a traumatized world from the malignancies that riddle it. Drives a battered red jeep with concealed weapon storage.
  • Miranda Wolf. A young lady with an enthusiasm for violence, enabled by various custom weapons including a collapsible sword and a hot motorcycle.

Down In the Cooler

After a brief meet and greet where everyone arrived but Miranda, they headed over to the morgue as a group. The morgue was in the basement of the government building in town, that was also city hall and the police station. They got a tip that the mortician was willing to sell them information if they out-bid the one buying her silence, so they went to check it out.

Still in his EMT uniform, Simon had no trouble getting in and letting the others in through a side door. They headed down to the basement, where Simon asked to take a look at the morgue because there was a switchup with bodies; the mortician, Patsy, demanded paperwork or no deal. Deflected, Simon retreated to the break room.

Ian and Lou were up, and when they mentioned the proposed financial arrangement “paying the late fee” then they relocated to her office. Lou had the $1,200 she required, and she told them about one of the corpses she received, Old Man Farber. She did an autopsy on him, he was dead as can be. But a week later, she saw him in the hardware store a couple towns over in Hickory Hills, dressed in a black suit wearing sunglasses. She couldn’t tell the cops, and some scruffy guy bought her silence about any anomalies in the morgue. But it was bothering her sleep. Another old man in town was breathing his last soon, and she was increasingly uncomfortable about what might happen.

She suspected her assistant, Jack Williams, of facilitating this foul play. It wasn’t her, and he was the only other one with access. Her story told, she shooed them out.

Meanwhile Simon saw Miranda, who had made it down to the morgue. They were chatting, and the others joined them as the morgue assistant returned from whatever errand was keeping him; he looked askance at them, and headed into the morgue.

Dispatch

On the way out, they looped through the police department, greeting the dispatch officer manning the front desk. There were only a few missing persons posters up, two from New Orleans and one from Biloxi. No locals; the cop was friendly and insisted they take care of their own and keep track of them.

The cop also reinforced an offhand comment from the Ye Olde Taverne, that people were staying off the streets at night because the city was spraying for mosquitoes, to ward off the dreaded Zika virus.

As they were leaving, Miranda spotted a leather-clad long-haired dude glaring at them from the trees. He withdrew into the modest treeline when spotted. Miranda pointed him out, and Simon flashed the brights on his jeep; with that, the man took off.

Enthused, Miranda mounted her bike and zipped around the trees, off-roading it. Her bike got her close before it skidded out in a pool that looked like a puddle. The man she was chasing turned on her, hissing, and attacked. She fended him off with her collapsible sword, and Simon drove his jeep at the guy. The hissing man evaded the jeep, but then got his head swiped clean off by Miranda’s attack. They quickly checked his gums to confirm he was a vampire, then they loaded the corpse pieces into the jeep.

The cops came out to see what the racket was about, and Carlton got into a slap fight with Lou, distracting them. Nobody got pepper sprayed or arrested, and everybody pulled out. As Miranda and Simon drove over the edge of the parking lot and through the McDonalds, the drive-through worker dully stared at them; apparently all manner of things that happened in that meadow were routinely ignored.

Next Steps

Simon and Miranda went to dispose of the vampire corpse. First they found a pew envelope with local phone numbers scribbled on it (including their Holiday Inn) and some tattoos (including white supremacist symbols.) Miranda gutted the body and weighted it, then rolled it into the river, hoping it would stay submerged until they were long gone at least.

Meanwhile Ian surfed the web, finding vague articles about Zika spraying but no detail, and also noting nobody saw a sprayer truck since they’ve been here, and they wouldn’t spray every night anyway. More like an excuse to get people to stay inside.

Morning

Simon and Ian went to get everybody breakfast. As they were picking up masses of brown food, the waitress told a story about how she hated ticks, and had one between her toes; unable to help himself, Simon went through the steps of checking for Lyme disease with her. The food was cooled and partially congealed by the time it got back to the Holiday Inn.

As they were talking next steps, a police car pulled up, and the officer went to talk with the manager. Feeling some discomfort, they split up and continued their investigation.

Ian and Lou went to the Daughters of the Revolution headquarters, and met with a number of the oldest and proudest women in town. In addition to seeing their pride quilt, getting a great barbeque lunch, some pinches, and some phone numbers, they also found out that there was an abandoned church nearby that one of the neighbors complained about. Had some squatters, vehicles under tarps out back.

Simon went to catch a shift with the local EMTs, and tried to press about strange local events. People were weirdly quiet, and the morning atmosphere was oppressive and strange. Determined, Simon checked the activity logs and found stretches of suspicious calm. He looked at the supplies; there was probably some pilfering going on, but even so, the ambulance was more busy than it let on.

The Sinkhole

Carlton went with Miranda to the local bar, the Sinkhole. It was named for its pool tables, not its pre-historic cougars. They saw a sad man with a magnificent mullet mourning by the juke box; Miranda flirted with him and found out his girl, Sally, was a tough woman with a big heart who may have just left him, or may have disappeared; he held out hope she was in trouble and not moving on. He still had her Led Zepplin records, so he doesn’t think she left him.

An old man in a dark suit and glasses was sitting in the back; they noticed him, but didn’t confront him right away.

A woman came in, Jenn Wellsly, reporter for the Biloxi Courier. She checked in with the newcomers, and it came out that she was looking into a blue panel van that was driving around Biloxi offering homeless women $500 for babies up to 3 months old. Her legwork traced the van back to this town, and she was looking for thugs and a blue van and babies.

Carlton strolled over to where the blind man sat, and tried to strike up a conversation. At this range, Carlton could tell the man was dead. The blind man tried to gesture at him to go away, then pulled a knife and stabbed him. Carlton retreated, and Miranda just lit up at the chance to stab somebody. The blind man raced out of the bar, his running fast but disjointed and jerky. Miranda almost caught him before he ran in front of a lumber truck and was smashed.

Emergency Response

Simon was on the call to spatula the corpse off the road. While his partner went to check on the driver, he packed up the corpse for transport. He saw the autopsy Y incision burst open, and felt the cool flesh; this guy was dead long before the truck hit him. And his eye sockets were empty.

They took the corpse to the morgue and Simon wheeled it down, dismissing his partner to wait in the ambulance. Patsy took the body without comment, and told him he didn’t see anything unusual. With Patsy headed to the back and no one else around, Simon quickly rifled her computer. She was still logged in.

He saw her bank account, up by three deposits of over $1,000 in a week! The paperwork didn’t reveal anything unusual, which was almost certainly not true.

Then Simon looked up to see two blind men standing in front of the desk. They drew knives. He realized how alone he was.

Kicking over the desk at them, he tried to escape. One knifed him, and grabbed his shirt, locking a death grip on him so the corpse’s body weight dragged him down. He managed to stagger over to the fire axe emergency cabinet, breaking the glass and taking the axe. Lopping the dead man’s arm off at the elbow, he managed to escape, bleeding and with a death-grip hand and forearm hanging from his clothes. He pulled the fire alarm and escaped in the confusion.

Time for Church

They met back at the Holiday Inn to plan next moves and so the medics could stitch each other up. Their clearest lead was to the vampires, who were likely lairing in an abandoned church. Since it was already early afternoon and no one wanted to tackle the vampires in the dark if it could be avoided, they mounted up and headed for the church.

There wasn’t much chance for scouting, but they did spot a Mustang under a tarp. Then Miranda was in action, charging in the front door. Three vampires popped up, hissing. She swiped the head off one as Carlton took out another, and as Ian moved to back him up, a vampire stabbed him with his own syringe of dead man’s blood and kicked him out of the way before Miranda lopped her head off too.

With the vampires dispatched, they looked around to find an entry to the basement. It was in the baptismal font. They headed down the ladder (except Lou, who would “stand guard”) and found a weird gargoyle sculpture, along with a row of shallow graves and a pile of clothing. Some guns. A bookshelf of hymnals. Shovel. Half-full bag of lime.

As they searched, the “statue” animated and lashed out at Carlton, flinging him across the room. It pounded Simon down and smacked Miranda, but they managed to get a couple good hits in. It retreated, leaping up out of the basement–

And Lou hit it with a big hammer, knocking it through the wall to tumble into the sunlight, screaming and singing and broken.

Sirens could be heard approaching. Did someone hear gunshots and call the cops? Anyway, time to go. They quickly splashed the old wooden building with gas, lit it, and hit the road before the cops could connect them to the event. They left the church a merry blaze behind them, and rode on out of town.

For now, there were too many questions for outsiders. The vampire nest was wiped out, and they had confirmation the Blind Men had been in town.

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Silent Legions: Surface Tension. (Session 2)

Silent Legions, Grifton, 3

After her ordeal, Helouise Havershaum was medicated to a sleeping, peaceful state. Truc and Jason figured this was as good a time as any to relocate and figure out next steps, so they returned to Havershaum Estate and reunited with Emilia and Terry.

They arrived after Terry gave Helouise some gun safety tips, and she was absorbed in doing a Tarot reading. While the house staff had not seen her use her fortunetelling skills, they knew the family was a bunch of occult weirdoes, into seances and all sorts of other unsavory practices. It was not a surprise that the wealthy couple’s daughter was also into strange practices.

They discussed the usefulness of an occult weirdo for the current troubles. They remembered the oneriest (dream expert) Hodgekins, who they first met investigating Gangplank. Emilia also knew Dr. Wetly, another divination specialist who taught her to read entrails. (When asked what he was a doctor of, he would reply “necromancy.”) He had a place in Irvine.

Meeting Hodgekins

Terry called him up on the phone, but talked to a young man named Givens, who agreed to a meeting but only with Terry. After a brief discussion with the group, they realized they needed to all be there; Terry called him back, and Givens budged to allow the medical doctor (he was oddly keen to have the doctor come) but no one else.

They all mounted up in the reserve reinforced SUV and headed to his Downtown penthouse. Truc and Emilia waited in the hall as Terry and Jason headed inside. They met Givens, a nervous fellow, then saw the problem–Hodgekins was unconscious on the dream couch in its protections. And he had been for three days.

As Jason considered the care that Givens was taking of the unconscious dreamer, including detailed instructions with legal coverage signed off on by Hodgekins before the dive, he encouraged the young caregiver to pull out the EEG machine so he could take some readings. (Of COURSE Hodgekins had an EEG machine on site.)

Terry looked through the dreamer’s library, noting the chained books and the cage with the more dangerous books at the end. The whole library was behind a secret door, Givens let him in. He looked for a book that might help. Noticing that Hodgekins had painted another protective circle around the ones inlaid in the floor, he took pictures of it and found something like it in a book; it appeared to be Assyrian, but he couldn’t make any headway with it.

Hodgekins appeared to be in a state unlike a dream or a coma; even adrenaline to the heart, administered by Givens, had not roused him. So, according to the instructions, it was time to keep Hodgekins’ body hydrated and fed through the IV, and take readings twice a day, but let him fight his way back as long as there appeared to be hope. Givens had already been through various smudgings, acupuncture, chemical treatments, and other steps detailed in the instructions; his resourcefulness was spent. He had Gangplank with him, and was prepared to use it to go after Hodgekins, but he had been forbidden to do so; Hodgekins believed it was too dangerous.

Waking the Sleeper

At that point Terry insisted he needed the rest of his team. Givens grudgingly agreed to consider it, and peeked out the door to read their auras. He liked what he saw with Emilia, so she and Truc were allowed in.

Emilia got to work on figuring out what the circle was supposed to do. The notes in the text indicated it was to protect against “bane fomori.” Fomori tie back to Irish folklore as possibly headless giants that wrestle heroes, and Hebrew folklore, and appear to be bad news. The Assyrian symbols were to protect against drought, blight, and pestilence for crops and for fertility of people.

Truc probed the apartment generally, finding that most of it was tucked away behind secret panels. He found a shrine with disturbing statuary of Vishnu and Shiva involved in tectonic levels of creation and destruction as a cyclical (and sexual) dance, and many other mini-shrines and small boxes designed to protect dreams of their owners. The inside door had over 60 pigeonholes each with a badge on it from the Grifton Police Department; one of them was Terry’s former badge!

Terry broke the wax seal and opened that one, finding one of his toothbrushes, a copy of his police record summary annotated with lots of weird symbols, and a little cloth bag.

Meanwhile Jason initiated feeding sugar water to the sleeper to try and wake up the digestive system, helping to process the Gangplank out faster.

The Sleeper

Hodgekins abruptly sat up, and awkwardly pulled the electrodes off. Moving stiffly and strangely as though not accustomed to his shape, he got up and tried to approach them; the painted circle on the floor stopped him like a mime’s invisible wall. He tried to pull the bench up out of the floor, but didn’t immediately succeed. He sat on the bed and let out a strange passionless bawl.

Givens reacted to this by kneeling, pressing a prayer ribbon of some sort to his forehead, and mumbling. The others found this turn of events unsettling. Givens recovered his cool, and got the red leather book–the book with instructions for what to do if it looked like Hodgekins was no longer master of his body. If it looked like Hodgekins wasn’t coming home. The thing did twitch, and hiss something like speech. “I smell a Havershaum,” it whispered.

Before Hodgekins could be euthanized by his assistant, Terry asked for the book with the protective circle. Givens freed it from the chain library and gave it to them as a parting gift.

Givens fetched a pistol shotgun with “enchanted” dragon’s breath ammunition. Feeling serious nerves, Truc took Emilia out to the car, but Terry and Jason just had to see how it turned out. The shotgun round incinerated Hodgekins’ body and the couch and the inlaid protection circles, making a shallow melted crater. Then it was done.

A moment later, three or four phones started ringing in the kitchen. That’s when Terry and Jason retreated.

Overnight

The day had been long, and there was no change reported in Helouise’s condition. Jason ordered an EEG machine to be added to the battery of monitor tests for Helouise, which would be figured out the next day.

Terry got a call from Ty, who wanted to meet him down in the cafeteria. While the bodyguards and Emilia ate up in the room, Terry and Jason went to the cafeteria. Ty shooed Jason off; he was plainclothes, and had secrets for Terry.

Ty told him that the downed team of shooters that tried to abduct Helouise Havershaum were a mercenary team rented from the Network. A job like this cost $1.5 million, paid in cash–nonsequential $20 bills. Ty gave him a folder that had the Network handler who handled the transaction; if Terry wanted to know who sent the team, he’d have to get that information from a powerful criminal in a very organized syndicate.

Emilia went home to Havershaum Estate. Terry and Truc went along, to help her feel safer, and were given places to sleep in the mansion. Jason returned to the Tyriex Manor for a good night’s sleep.

Terry and Emilia slept fine, but Truc and Jason had nightmares.

Truc dreamed he was in the Sears ruin on the balcony, escaping monsters he could not see. He jumped off the balcony, and his fall was guided; he landed next to the chuck hole in the basement, but it was walled off in concrete. The walls ground closer around him, and a bright green light flared up out of the hole– Then he woke, sweaty and dull and strange.

Jason dreamed he was in a featureless plain with Hodgekins’ body, but as he took the EEG reading it turned into threads, and the machine turned into a mechanized spider-thing, and it was bundling him up as Hodgekins rose and tore open his body, which was a silky Iron Maiden, and Jason was stuffed into it– and he woke, thrashing in his sheet, gasping for breath. The next morning he did plenty of meditation and katas to clear out that alien tingle and be alone in his body.

Upon Waking

They met at the hospital, where Helouise was exhausted but awake. She made Jason promise to keep her awake by any means necessary until she gave him permission to let her sleep. She also told Truc that it had been a brutal struggle the night before, and the thing that pursued her actually got her out of her body. But she learned, at the same time he did, that he could not enter her form without being physically present. “They’ll try again,” she whispered. She got her silver hatpin, and jabbed anyone who came close enough; she believed the silver would cause a burning reaction in anyone who was not what they appeared to be. She also used its point to help herself stay awake.

Jason ramrodded through doctor’s orders for a drug the military uses to keep troops awake for days, in addition to the EEG machine. He went crushing through the bureaucracy on behalf of his wealthy client.

Truc guarded the room as Emilia tried to use a sharpie marker to draw the protective circle around the bed. The first effort was a smeary disaster, so they moved the bed to the other side of the room. This time Terry helped, holding the book for her, and she got a very serviceable rendition to protect her mother.

Protections were about as good as they could get as lunchtime approached. Time to figure out next moves.

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Andrew’s Guide to Play Reports

Want to write play reports that are useful and interesting? Here are my suggestions.

Subheadings. Group information so about every full screen of text you’ve got a subheading. This breaks the information up into manageable chunks when reading, diminishing the “text wall” effect, and also helps you find things you’re looking for later.

Targeted Information. The main reason I do play reports is because I want to be able to refer to what happened, when I’m planning and running later sessions. Choose information with this in mind. Whole conversations and strings of events can be reduced to a couple sentences. Fights can be summarized and glossed over, unless it is going to matter who shot who and which character stabbed how many orcs. Focus on NPCs and their information, any promises made or broken, background information that you might need to re-use parts of the situation as they crop up later, and outcomes of scenes. Pay special attention to the stuff you improvised and won’t remember in a day or two.

A play report can balance the needs of the players (who want to see how cool their characters look, and get NPC names and events and commitments straight, comparing to their table notes) and the GM (who needs canon and precedent sorted out for future planning and reference, and may be advertising the game.)

Battles tend towards very short play reports, where you aim for memorable moments and battle outcomes. The longest reports tend to come from investigations where there are many clues and NPCs the players or GM may wish to revisit.

Quick, Dirty, Active. Use strong verbs and keep descriptions short. You want the reader to get a painting of how a scene felt in just a few sentences. It’s fine to go a little “purple” or melodramatic in describing things. Hit descriptions fast and move on; it’s a summary, not fiction.

Provoke Jealousy. I hope people who read my play reports think “I want to play in that game!” To that end, don’t insult players or characters in the play report. Portray PCs in the most positive light you can. Condensing the game to a crisp summary can make it look fast and taut and fun–ideally, it was. Jamming flavor into your verbs and keeping the story jumping along can inflect the memory of players and the perception of readers.

Past Tense. Pick a tense before you start writing, and stick to it. I recommend past tense. Only step beyond that intentionally; an NPC may control the docks, so you want to say “Jack controls the docks” instead of “Jack controlled the docks,” but make sure it is a choice and not an oversight every time you step out of past tense.

Links. Link to the previous session when you do a play report. If you do a number of them, make a page on your blog, or some other location, where you can put the series and link to each play report. Make it easy to browse through them. Maybe use Obsidian Portal if you don’t have a blog.

I hope that helps you write up your play reports! While I have been doing play reports for many years, all the write-ups I’ve done since 2012 are linked here.

https://fictivefantasies.wordpress.com/games/

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Edge City: Spoiling Schemes

Edge City banner

Weeks passed after the heroes shuttered Hell.

Adrian Pellwitch Takes it Easy

George Pellwitch had about a week of tourism in Edgarton, and in the process became friends with Swashbuckler as a fellow monster hunter (in his way.) Adrian told Swashbuckler he was grateful for the help during the crisis, and Swashbuckler mentioned he could use some help getting a Letter of Marque and Reprisal signed by the police commissioner Alex Felton.

(As an immortal pirate, Swashbuckler uses his age of sail ship and its magical stealth abilities to interfere with smuggling and offshore mischief. Frustrated with slippery criminals in the legal system, he pioneered the “confess or maroon” program where those who did not confess their misdeeds to the system get re-captured and put on a spit of sand in the ocean until they reconsider. Swashbuckler likes to have a Letter of Marque and Reprisal signed by the current police commissioner to endorse his work, to underscore that he is a vigilante for the good of the city; a privateer, rather than a pirate.)

Adrian took his wife Emma and their surviving bodyguard Ellis along with the yacht captain Mugsy and went on a two week tour of the Florida Keys and Grand Cayman. Emma doesn’t like going in the water, but she likes the beach. One tipsy night she confided in Adrian that since she dated a fellow who turned out to be a Deep One hybrid, and he threatened her that his kin can smell her in the ocean, and she’s had nightmares about being dragged off by Deep Ones, the ocean has lost its appeal for her. But she feels safe with Adrian. Adrian and Mugsy also tried out the yacht’s submarine to poke around the reef and surprise scuba divers.

Genevieve Malone Pursues Leads

Meanwhile, back in Edgarton, Genevieve spent some quality time with her husband Graves. She also investigated Grim’s disappearance, interviewing Emma and Ellis (Emma’s bodyguard) about what happened to Grim. He apparently repelled the Lord of Air (incorporeal possessing demon) that got into him, and dragging out the one in Ellis with a fierce kiss; her lungs were damaged as from smoke inhalation by the ferocity of the struggle. He put up a hell of a fight on his own so the others could escape, and that was the last they saw of him.

Genevieve enlisted Kryptma and Morris to use their shaman powers to help. Grim didn’t turn up. Kryptma and Morris and Kryptma’s other mysterious boyfriend formed a love triangle and they couldn’t resist pulling Genevieve in as a listening ear (though she refused to offer advice into that teen drama machine.)

The shamen were united in providing an extra boost to the banewar south of town, where a spirit roc and umbral unicorn and other spirits and shamen provide a bulwark against the tide of bane spirits flowing from where a nuke was detonated deep in the state park. Kryptma decided to help out to push the effort ahead and buy the defenders some breathing space.

Genevieve, the Gray Ghost, and the wreckage of the metal-bodied assassin robot Daniel talked about his future. The Ghost said she was willing to purloin a new flesh-sheathed metal body (a terminator, basically) that didn’t have its positronic brain yet. And, she was willing to call in an engineer that she trusted who owed her a major favor to install Daniel’s brain in the new body. Genevieve and Daniel agreed to the risks involved; it was not certain how much longer his brain would be stable in its current wrecked shell. The Ghost set wheels in motion to achieve that end.

Sgt. Gorman, Genevieve’s Downtown police contact, recruited her to help with a string of robberies of hidden money stashes in high-rise buildings, conducted by the Webmaster. The only evidence he leaves at crime scenes is a marble-sized motion activated projector, so when someone enters the scene it projects a spider logo. He got his training and gear in Benton, and when it got too hot for him there, he relocated to Edge City.

Sidewinders and Webmasters

Genevieve started investigating, revealing that the places that were hit were new and old stash spots put in by the Chan family. Some of them were installed at the height of their power from sale of the Whisper drug. The estimate of stolen goods was impossible to verify, but could be as much as $30 million over six jobs.

Also, as it turns out, Mr. Breathman was a high-up accountant with the Chan family, and he was captured by gunmen. Willingly or not, he was probably telling his captors where the sites were, and his captors were sending the Webmaster as a hired gun to clean them out. Who was behind it?

Sal “The Salamander” Carter, head of the new gang the Sidewinders, had a brand new club Downtown called the Snake Pit. It was built in the wreckage path left by the Ragnorok Wrecker that almost destroyed the city. Terrible pastels alongside big band 1950s ambiance.

The Salamander used to be a two-bit thug for the Bertinelli family, but recently he sold his soul to a crossroads demon to become a criminal big shot. Now rocketed to wealth and fame, he picks easy targets so he doesn’t start a war with anybody, and he lives it up as the big man others must take seriously. Still, cleverness is not his overarching finest trait; the loot and prisoner were probably stashed in his nightclub.

A Night On the Town

Adrian and Genevieve dressed nicely and went to the Snakepit to scout the location. They saw where Sal held court, and identified the lieutenants and armed thugs, taking in the sights. A balcony, an off-limits basement, the apartment building across the alley belonged to them too and that’s where they stored the liquor, food, and other supplies.

Genevieve was recognized by the bartender, so Sal’s second in command, Tom Skern, strolled over to have a pleasant conversation and to suggest if they had any law issues they come to him rather than making a scene or going to Sal. He also gave Adrian his card–and his personal phone number. Looking good!

Eventually Genevieve headed for the ladies room. There was a mirror in the handicapped stall, so she used that to pop out into the umbra, and navigate through the charred dimensional wreckage of the Wrecker’s path to find a couple mirrors downstairs. She slid out of the one in the bathroom and invoked the Mists of R’lyeh, then scouted.

There, in the common room, the vault. A small area with three cells, guarded by two alert thugs; and in one cell, Mr. Breathman. She telepathically contacted him, much to his discomfort and surprise. He was obviously held against his will and not given any luxuries. He refused to escape as long as the Sidewinders had his granddaughter Li, a pretty sixteen year old girl. Genevieve agreed to help him rescue her and get him out, if he would tell them where Webmaster was going to strike next. Deal.

She strolled past guards and out the secret door and back into the club, hidden by the magical mists. Adrian dismissed the illusion of Genevieve he had conjured to cover her absence as she returned to the table.

On the off chance that the Sidewinders centralized things, Genevieve telepathically scanned the building next door. Sure enough, she found a mind that was sure to be Li, on the fourth floor, bored and guarded.

A Grim Situation

As she shook her head at their stupidity, Julio, a member of the Brotherhood of the Road, approached Adrian. He was to call his wife. Julio left, and Adrian called home.

Emma was seriously rattled. Grim had returned, and said he wanted to see Genevieve, then stalked away; something about him frightened her badly.

Adrian and Genevieve left the club and went through a mirrored window facing an alley not far away, emerging in the mirror safe room in Adrian’s basement. Emma was happy to see them, feeling much safer. Genevieve scouted, finding Grim’s footprints on the rain-soaked lawn, going down to a departing motorcycle’s tire track.

Who else might Grim visit? Genevieve called Grainger Pennywise to put him on alert, just in case. Ellis and Emma felt safer with Adrian than at home, so they piled into the car, and the four headed to Old Man Marcher’s burned out ruin. That had been home once.

The Crawford Burial Plot

There, they found the house number of the Crawford Place scrawled on a stone. They headed to the burned-out ruin of what had once been a home to Genevieve, and her now-deceased cousin, and after that, Daniel. It was a lonely ruin on a wind-swept and lightly-traveled road. Emma and Ellis held back as Adrian and Genevieve approached the ruin and spotted some light, like a candle, from the basement.

Ellis started shooting. Two Lords of Air were trying to possess the women, but their Elder Sign pendants were repelling them. Adrian closed in, and those demons retreated even as another tried to sneak attack his owl familiar, pouring into her beak; her magical connection to Adrian was enough for her to repel the attack.

All four of them approached the house. Adrian’s magically honed senses detected Grim in the basement, and he went down alone to talk to him. Grim growled that he wanted to see Geneiveve, so the ladies started down the stairs into the ruin of the basement. Genevieve could immediately tell Grim’s body didn’t have him in it; it was a possessed corpse.

Regretful but unwavering, Adrian blew the haunted corpse away with magic–but Grim’s body had been sitting on a dead man’s switch, triggering a massive explosion. Adrian’s quick reflexes protected the four of them from being blown up, and they staggered out of the crater. Hurrying to the car, they delayed long enough for Genevieve to check it for tampering or explosives, then they headed to Favian Church.

The church was heavily laced with Elder Signs and contained a Great Seal, so Lords of Air were not a threat there. Fr. Abrams was sympathetic to their cause and quite willing to shelter Emma and Ellis. Genevieve called her husband Graves, and he used the secret dimensional door between Favian Manor’s basement and Favian Church’s basement to join them. For safety’s sake. (Graves also planned to resume crushing Fr. Abrams at chess, announcing the order in which he would take pieces before the game began and winning anyway.)

Two Rescues

The night was young; it was half past ten. Adrian and Genevieve returned Downtown, to the apartment building next to the Snakepit, where Li was prisoner. Adrian levitated them up to the roof. He used his magical shapeshifting armor to give himself an impressive black wizard garb. Then he magically stealthed into the building, taking out the two guards protecting Li. He invited her to escape with him, and she was impressed by his garb and ability. Stepping out a window with her, he levitated down to the street.

Genevieve would protect Li while Adrian would rescue her grandfather, Breathman. Genevieve put all four of them on the psychic tac net, and Li said she was impressed with the wizard, and thought he maybe worked for the president. She switched over to Chinese and noted that these people were allies of the Gray Ghost, her gift told her that. Adrian, able to understand and speak all human languages, found that interesting. Breathman asked who he owed a favor to for this, and Adrian replied, Genevieve Malone.

Using his magical stealth, he entered the club unseen and slid into the defended back hallway, through the secret door, and down to the basement. He used magic to knock out the two guards and open the door, and he took Breathman back up to the back of the building and magically stepped them both through the solid wall, leaving no trace of their exit.

Breathman and Li were delighted to be together again. Breathman told Genevieve and Adrian that Webmaster would hit the Vesterman Building, Downtown, at midnight; in about half an hour. Then Genevieve gave them cab fare, and they disappeared into the city.

Thwarting Webmaster

Sgt. Gorman had to be careful because when they approached Webmaster on a previous heist he saw them coming and vanished. He had to have a small, fast-moving presence, but to catch Webmaster, he had to know exactly where and when he was acting. Genevieve called him and told him to get in position, fast. Then she and Adrian drove to the area of the Vesterman Building to intercept.

Genevieve found him telepathically. He was dressed as a cabbie, driving the grid around the building looking for suspicious cop-like loitering vehicles and such. She observed as he parked in an alley, and used a pre-set counterweight pully to zip up to the roof of a 35 story building near the target. He jumped off the roof, using a dissolving parachute to glide over to the roof of the 25 story building target. Then he was in.

Adrian flew up to his entry point carrying Genevieve, using his magical cloak. As they stealthed in, Genevieve heard Webmaster hissing a conversation with someone in the front desk, who told him cops were in the express elevator. Webmaster had paid off the local staff. He quickly packed, preparing to escape.

Adrian used magical stealth and caught him by surprise, knocking him out with magic before the cat burglar knew he was there. They checked the wall where he had been working; a bricked up dumbwaiter shaft. Adrian opened it with magic, and they found a shrink-wrapped stack of bearer bonds, and a briefcase full of property deeds. They left the bonds on Webmaster, and escaped with the briefcase before the cops showed up.

Maybe the case against the Webmaster would stick, but probably not; in any case, the Sidewinders were foiled for the time being.

Wrap Up

After retrieving their loved ones from Favian Church, they considered the night’s events from the parlor in Favian Manor. Genevieve surveyed the briefcase deeds, and found that they were to properties in Settler–properties surrounding the Seertech reclamation plant. Interesting.

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Silent Legions: Surface Tension. (Session 1)

Silent Legions, Grifton, 3

Disruption

Terry Fox. A week after the incident in the Sears ruin, Terry was summarily fired; the boss picked one of many possible reasons and acted on it. By the time Terry was sobering up from throwing a wake for his job, he was approached by Ty Glenderry, a private investigator working for Tally Investigative Services. Glenderry offered Terry a job for twice what he was making before, to join a stable of investigators that contract with various law firms in town to provide surveillance and investigation. Terry was initially reluctant, and he checked the company out; they had some shady tactics, sure, but they worked for and protected their wealthy clients. It didn’t seem worse than working for the police. He signed on. The job turns out to be pretty cushy, and Glenderry is a great partner. Terry has been with the company for a month, mostly doing stakeouts and legwork to check people out. At the one month mark, Ty gave him a folding knife anniversary present and a job to do some light background checking on Helouise Havershaum. Her husband was a client, and she had headaches; could there be malfeasance? Look around. Talk to the lady.

Truc Trang. A week after the incident in the Sears ruin, Terry was let go from the slaughterhouse. No reason offered. One of the fighters in his circuit, Chucklehead Casey, offered to get him a job with Darcy Private Security as a bodyguard or home security agent. Mourning the loss of the job that represented turning away from petty crime, Truc reluctantly accepted. The process was pretty smooth. He was assigned to Alex and Helouise Havershaum and their daughter Emilia (20) a student at Marlbeth University. Alex is a lawyer at Everson, Clay, Solar, and Smith. Helouise is an artist, specializing in portraits and oil paintings. His case officer is Jethro Skeen, who handles the four man team assigned to the Havershaums. Sally Ang, Tom Costner, Arby Smith.

Jason Jones. A week after the incident in the Sears ruin, Jason was contacted by Dr. Campbell, Dean of Medicine at Marlbeth. Sam Tyriex was a wealthy meat magnate, and he was suffering from inoperable bone cancer. He had his last days to live out, and he requested a doctor who was familiar with the Packers; Campbell knew of no one better. Plus, the job change would assure the financial future of the Third Son Clinic, which was increasingly shaky as a government grant fell through due to failing to meet architectural specifications. Once he was onsite in the opulent Shroud Ridge mansion, he was given very nice quarters and access to the staff. He was also expected to be the “family doctor” to assist in any delicate matters other members of the Tyriex family might have. Cam Stevens is the butler who takes care of Tyriex Manor and the servants and family members and guests. Allen Ellis is the family lawyer. Important members of the family include his son Glen Tyriex (current head of the company) and his chilly wife Ursela. Sam’s daughter Callie Rye is a partner in a law firm Downtown. He also dotes on his grandchildren, both by Glen: Helouise Havershaum (an artist of some repute) and Guy Tyriex who is intent on wasting the family fortune. Sam’s granddaughter Helouise was having intense headaches, and on Dr. Jones’ urging she was to go downtown to get some scans done.

Emilia Havershaum. She was a student at Marlbeth University with a business major. She has off-campus housing in Madvane Estates, but often lives in Shroud Ridge at the Havershaum Estate with her parents. Her father is Alex, a lawyer at Everson, Clay, Solar, and Smith. Her mother Helouise is an artist, specializing in portraits and oil paintings. The only other family she has much contact with is her great grandfather on her mother’s side, Sam Tyriex, a wealthy meat magnate suffering from inoperable bone cancer. Her grandfather, Glen Tyriex, is head of the company now. Also her great-aunt, Callie Rye, is a law firm partner Downtown; relations are a bit chilly. Her uncle Guy Tyriex is intent on wasting the family fortune, but at least he is sometimes fun.

The Big Day

On Friday, April 15, Terry headed to the Havershaum Estate in Shroud Ridge. A butler let him in, and he came face to face with Truc, who was onsite security. That was startling, but after a little conversation, Emilia arrived. Helouise had asked her to come along for moral support, since Alex was traveling in Asia. Emilia fetched Helouise from her room, seeing her mother significantly weakened by pain. Truc pulled the reinforced black SUV around so they could load up.

Dr. Jason Jones arrived just in time to go with them; traffic, always a problem. Truc, Terry, and Jason were pleased, surprised, and wary to all see each other here for unrelated reasons. They headed out to the hospital.

On the way Terry asked Helouise some questions. She couldn’t think of any special disruptions in routine or things out of place, though as an artist and lawyer with wealth, of course they had enemies. She drew Terry in four lines, capturing a weary impression. She said she used a six line drawing to capture her husband. She didn’t have much useful information to offer, but her weird intensity left its own impression.

The Box

They crossed to Downtown Island, and then to Downtown, before they ran into massive delays. One construction delay sent them to a tunnel for about 4 blocks, and once they were trapped down there with all the exhaust fumes and honking, construction workers opened another small side tunnel to relieve the traffic pressure. After Truc pulled in to it, he noticed they closed it behind him. Alone in the tunnel, right next to a tunnel full of drivers, they were accosted by four men with masks, armor, and machine guns yelling at them to get out of the car.

The back tires were blown out by stop sticks as Truc tried to escape, and more were put down in front of the way out. The attackers opened up with submachine guns, riddling the reinforced SUV with bullets; the windows gave, but no one was hit. Truc and Terry returned fire, and Truc gave Jason a backup pistol stored in the SUV for awkward moments like this.

Truc and Terry knocked down one of the four attackers, and Jason killed one with a shot. While Truc and Terry concentrated fire on the third, Jason charged the fourth, heedless of his submachine gun. In a short and sharp conflict he knocked away the man’s submachine gun and took his baton out of his hand as concentrated fire finished off the fourth attacker after Truc took a bullet to the shoulder.

The… THING

Jason’s sparring partner let out a strangled scream and turned to run, and Jason pounced on him, knocking him out. Something heavy crashed down on the roof of the SUV, and peeled it open!

Emilia saw something alien and horrific, and managed to pull her mother out of the SUV. As they scrambled towards relative safety, Truc and Terry and Jason opened fire on the creature, scoring some direct hits. It flopped back off the truck, clattering down on the asphalt.

While Terry shielded the Havershaum women, Truc checked out the creature, getting a closer (nauseating) look. Its face had a compound eye in the center, and each facet was like a human eye. Its chin was full of short acidic feeder tentacle stubs flanked by mandibles. The torso of the exoskeleton was hollow, packed with a squirming mass of feeder tendrils (some of which were still hooked onto the truck, draped like meaty crepe paper streamers.) It had acidic tubes and pockets in its body that were now breaking it down, but it appeared to digest its food by spraying acid on it then feasting on the liquefying material. Mantis claws could fold over its “forearms” or extend for uncomfortably powerful ripping and gripping strength.

Unwilling to be the only one to get a better look at the thing, Truc insisted Jason take a look before bandaging his wound. They heard police sirens, but knew it would be 10 minutes (at the fastest) and maybe much longer before the police found the site of the battle. With gridlock, the city was even more difficult to navigate.

Terry used medical tape to take fingerprints, hair, and skin samples from one of the guards (who was not dead, just badly hurt and unconscious.) He also took a cell phone picture of his face. Who sent these guys, anyway?

While patching Truc up, Jason heard a cracking slithering sound, and they both looked–the thing’s “calves” had cracked open, and inside each was a tightly compacted ball of roach-like translucent bugs, pale and blue tinged. They ran for it, a few of them getting up Jason’s pant legs. Out to the sunlight!

Relative Safety

Emilia knew of a friend who was security conscious and scandal averse whose apartment was seven blocks away. They hailed a cab, paying extra for stuffing everyone in and for ignoring guns and blood and awful smells. They visited Sven Hendrickson, or tried to.

A woman, Christina, answered the buzzer. When they said they were in some trouble, she was eager to let them in and instruct the elevator guard to allow them access. She was enthusiastic about hearing details of the “kidnapping attempt” as they chose to spin the encounter. Meanwhile they could take in the glory of Hendrickson’s lacrosse trophies from all around the world, with appropriate knick knacks to reinforce the international flavor.

The team called the family lawyer, the security companies involved, and the hospital (to cancel the appointment.) A security team from Truc’s company arrived with a convoy, and they took the group further Downtown to the Civic building, where they went to the roof and got a chopper that airlifted her back to Shroud Ridge, where her security team was waiting with the armored car to take her entourage home.

A Story, Crooked

Truc needed a long shower, fresh bandages, and clean clothes. Meanwhile the others set up a sort of war room in the basement game room. Terry started a home-brew crime lab setup, and also instructed Emilia to write out what happened, and an abridged version, so they could get the story straight. He did the same.

Jason’s socks were full of blood and he was leaving gory footprints. He realized some of the bugs in his trousers had either released acid upon being smashed, or bit him, but the chemical deadened the nerves. He had a lengthy process of washing out the wounds and bandaging himself.

Meanwhile Helouise passed out, with blood trickling from her nose. Jason was spurred into action, and they called in a helicopter life flight for her. Truc and two other guards went with the helicopter, as well as Helouise and Jason. Terry and Emilia and one guard stayed at the estate, which was locked down.

After the helicopter left, Terry got in touch with Ty, who explained he was parked down the street watching. Terry invited him in, and they had a heart-to-heart. Ty explained that orders came from above that it had to be Terry on this assignment. On this particular day. It was clear and specific. What had he gotten into? Ty strongly advised him to get some distance, because he didn’t want his partner to get wrecked by some conspiracy. Meanwhile he was working with the other security company and select friends in the police force and the family lawyer to make that car accident pretty much disappear. They could use company resources to try and identify the shooters. Ty left, but could Terry feel very reassured by this turn of events? Ty congratulated him on finding signs of malfeasance, anyway…

A Plea for Help

Meanwhile, at the hospital, Helouise got scans. Jason was as puzzled as the doctors; she appeared to have mini-concussions, small bruises and tiny leaking in the brain, but from no discernible trauma.

Helouise chose Truc to be the guard in the room. He was quietly praying, a recent habit acquired after the Sears ruin,when she beckoned him over for a private conversation. She drew an outline that he recognized as the pothole from the Sears ruin. She told him that the thing that attacked them was a spectator in the ongoing intrusions into her dreams, and she told him of a creature with a hideous visage but a natty business suit that attacked her in those painful dreams. She sensed he might be able to help, either by staying here, or elsewhere. Exhausted, she fell into a fitful sleep.

Truc brought Jason and Terry into the conversation (texting the simple outline to Terry.) Maybe they needed to find the gold-eyed man they saved from the pet shop.

Just then, a bus drove by on an overpass by the hospital. On the side was an advertisement for a law firm, Singleton, Rye, and Oaks. The man on the side of the bus was the man with the gold eyes, though in the picture they weren’t that striking color. A sign? Maybe?

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Darkest Dungeons in the World Between: Giant

Darkest Dungeon WBFH logo

Heath the bandit and Chester the occultist rode the carriage up to Zellanta, joining Martin the leper, Vance the crusader, and Galatea the vestal (who arrived earlier.) They were sent out to a nearby lake, where forces of evil were raising horrible shrines to thicken the Encroachment and twist the area with horrible energies of the World Below. Three shrines had to be found and destroyed.

First Shrine

They followed the road the next morning after a service where Vance armored their minds against the coming stress. Passing the old wrecked coach road’s markers, they entered the Encroachment. They managed to get the drop on an encampment of mutated bandits, wiping out about a dozen shooters and blade wielders, and facing off with a huge hulk with a whip scourge.

The occultist swarmed the fight with massive tentacles from the Void, crushing and flinging the bodies of their foes, and keeping the big bandit distracted with tentacles long enough for Martin and Vance to wipe out his defenders and kill him. Chester was shot in the chest, almost lethally; Galatea healed him enough to stave off death, and he returned to whipping bandits with tentacles.

After the fight, Heath sifted the site for the most portable and valuable goods. Chester summoned alien flesh and grafted it to his chest, replacing his damaged organs. Vance and Martin gleefully hacked the shrine to pieces, wrecking it.

Second Shrine

From the shore of the lake by the first shrine, they saw the other two. As they followed the track through the woods to close in on the second, they saw and heard massive foul bubbles released from the lake, closing in on the second shrine site.

They reached the second shrine to see a line of priestesses channeling Encroachment energy from the shrine out lakeward, and a head the size of a refrigerator was emerging, along with shoulders draped with kelp. The priestesses were protected by a mass of cultist brawlers, like the one they killed in the last expedition. Battle was joined.

Martin went for the direct chopping maneuvers, while Vance also chanted battle litanies that seared the cultists crowding around him. The rest attacked from a distance, again swarming the battleground with otherworldly tentacles.

The priestesses fought back with mind-wrenching stress and conjured tentacles trying to push attackers away, but they were quickly mowed down by tentacles and gunfire and lightning. As the last of the cultists fell, the 40 foot tall giant emerged from the lake, snapping off a tree to use as a club.

The tentacles wrestled with him, keeping him too busy to attack, and the whole party closed on him and delivered a righteous beatdown.

Resting and tending their wounds, they gathered valuables to the middle of the clearing and made sure the giant was dead. There was still one shrine left.

Third Shrine

They followed the lake track around towards the third shrine. The Encroachment was thicker than they had ever experienced it. They were ambushed along the way by two fungal humanoid shapes that tore loose of trees where they had been glued, and four masses of fungal growth flanking the path.

A brief and fierce battle followed, with the intruders victorious. Chester was seeing visions of the tendrils he was supposed to control acting independently, coming for him, but he was mentally strong enough to separate hallucination from truth.

They got close enough to see the final shrine, surrounded by embedded fungal monsters. Heath stripped off his gear so he could carry the shrine, then he snuck in close, jumping out to grab the shrine and run before the fungus could react. He succeeded, and they managed to quickly batter the shrine to pieces then run for it before the forces of the Encroachment could close them in. Victory!

Payday

The caretaker bought all the gems and knick knacks, and also gave them 500 silver per shrine. The heroes let Heath keep all the expensive guns and ammo he had looted, as he expended plenty to help them out and would do so again. Brimming with silver and still alive, the heroes could rest and prepare for their next mission.

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