Numenera 8 and 9: Below Plainsight

Oof, I fell behind. We didn’t play for a few weeks while I got this blood geyser inside of me figured out and I didn’t have the time/energy to update what was going on. So I remember session 8 reasonably well, because I wrote things down and session 9 less well because a) it was mostly improvised and b) I didn’t write things down. I’ll cover the rest of session 9 and 10 as one big, slightly vaguer than normal recap, hopefully hitting all the relevant details.

  • Sharad, an Intelligent Nano who Leads if he only got a chance to do so.
  • Meef, a Mechanical Jack who Exists Partially Out Of Phase and is really not good at de-escalation.
  • Giana, a Strong-willed Jack who Focuses Mind-Over-Matter and is throwing her mental weight around
  • Red Pepper, a Graceful Glaive who Wields Two Weapons and spits singularities.

Seeking to defend their position in the hallway lined with fire spitting jets, Sharad’s mouth still streamed out a wide ribbon of wild electricity. Moving carefully around the passageway (they observed that the pillar seemed to absorb the electricity directed at it as it moved past) he avoided frying his amigos and instead made his way down the passageway, trying to avoid the jets of superheat. He positioned himself carefully as Red swung the door open, to the shouts of surprise from outside. Sharad pointed his sparking maw at the doorway and out into the watery murk of the jungle room. Things crackled and there was some mild screaming.

They swung the door shut and Giana telekinetically lifted a fallen support beam down the hallway and Red wedged the door wheel shut with it. Sound died down on the other side of the door and Sharad’s lightning belch wore off.

Okay, what now? They decided to take a look at the door wheel’s symbols, finally, jesus. Touching any of the symbols did nothing unless that symbol was the one that was the shape of the pylon, in which case the pylon suddenly moved along the passageway to where Red and Sharad were standing. They faffed around with some experiments before discovering that the pylon appeared to negate the jets of flame and so they were eventually able to walk up and down the hallway without being torched.

Okay, what now? Hmm. They had two unexplored passageways, one of which had given Sharad a dreadful premonition of some pseudopod/teeth monstrosity and the other… led in the same direction. They decided to head down that way.

The way was long and dark and led to a angle in the passageway that prevented them from seeing what they could hear first. They could hear a rumbling snarl and periodic sloshing sound. They rounded the bend in the passageway and beheld a monstrosity. Sitting atop a large cracked tank full of glowing orange liquid, a hideous mass of flailing, sinuous arms surrounded an eyeless skull with inches with teeth the length of knives. Along the length of the twisting pseudopods, inhuman eyes opened, distracted from its hunt for the strange trilateral swimming creatures in the orange goop.

It was on them in a flash, a terrible slithering, bounding locomotion behind its charge. Its arms whipped out at them and those that couldn’t get out of the way were clubbed aside. Giana was knocked to the floor and the thing pounced, enveloping her. Red whipped out a ray cypher, but in her frantic attempt to hit the thing, missed. Next, she tried a pill-form singularity grenade. As the creature, the vile Travonis Ul, made to devour Giana, her sister gobbed the contained black hole directly into its slavering maw. Through the teeth, past the gums, look out stomach, this WEIGHS MORE THAN DOZEN SUNS. The central mass of the body of the Travonis Ul imploded faster than the eye could register, suddenly orphaned tentacular-tips rebounding over them all.

Elated, yet also beaten to shit, the explorers took a well earned rest. They examined the room and the curved tank in its center. Now cracked and split apart, the material holding in the seeping orange goo was not shattered, but the Travonis Ul had torn the synth material out of the way to feast on the strange swimming creatures within. There appeared to be nothing else of interest in the room, save for a rent in the rear wall and a crude tunnel beyond it. It would appear that some large burrowing thing had made its way in from the outside and either torn the tank up or exacerbated the existing cracks.

Limping on back to the hallway, their barricaded door holding, they recuperated as best as they could. Rest wasn’t long however, as it suddenly became apparent that someone was cutting through the door. Readying themselves behind barricades at the far end of the hallway, they were braced for a fight when the door opened to reveal The Hozai, or at least a bunch of them. Buzzers were pointed, sharp glances exchanged, questions barked and then one of them lowered his pistol and said “Sharad?”.

Shome: He might just be in it for the robes.

Turns out it was Shome, of way back when 7 years ago or something. Rescued from one cult by Sharad, he had evidently found himself another. They always say: You can take the boy out of the monochromatic robes and  mumbled chanting, but I guess you can’t take that out of the boy. This reunion was all well and good, but Kelbo, the nominal leader of this expedition wanted to know what they were doing down here. Demanded to know, as a matter of fact.

They spun him a tale: that Nerr had met with Red (true) and hired her to go in ‘the back way’ to secure certain numenera (false). This put Kelbo in a position to get out of the lopsided fight he was about to get in, so he took the story at face value and agreed that everyone should go about everyone’s business. This suited the explorers too, because they had packs brimming (in Meef’s case, dangerously so) with looted cyphers. The Hozai went down the hallway, having been shown how the pylon worked, and the explorers went out into the jungle room again, looking for the two areas marked on the map they found.

The first area they found was an open area devoid of trees, but instead full of black water. It was very dark, but through the gloom they could hear a woman saying “Geirn? Geirn?” over and over again. Giana TK’ed a glowglobe out over the water and it illuminated the pale form of a woman’s face, floating obliviously in the water. They approached and were rushed by (another!) Mesomeme, who surged out of the water and clawed viciously at them. They fought it off, Giana’s TK struggling to hold the creature back as the others fought to pierce its tough chitin. They did, finally, but some of them were left exhausted and in bad need of rest.

This sketch I found from someone else’s retelling of this story cracked me up.

Sharad, at this point, went off to answer a pressing call of nature… or something. We liked to picture him with earplugs in, floating around with his eyes closed in the dark room, enjoying some Sharad-time, while things got complicated around him.

The Hozai returned (sans Shome), which was a problem because Meef, Red and Giana were searching the pool. Mostly for Meef’s sword, which he had lost in the fight. They had stowed a lot of their gear on the raised boles of the jungle trees and were now armpit-deep in the black water when the angry cultists arrived via the path the party had hacked down earlier. Buzzers drawn, axes hefted, they looked like they meant business and Kelbo quickly articulated that he wasn’t happy that he was going back empty handed to Nerr while the explorers had obviously – OBVIOUSLY – looted the place of all its delights.

Their plan to explore this jungle for riches… went to pieces.

Giana used telekinetic powers to push the backpack further into the undergowth, startling the two cultists who moved to collect the gear. Red used this distraction to slip beneath the water and kick off on a flanking arc. Meef stepped forward, drawing as much attention as possible to himself. Meef is sort of great at making a terrible first impression, so this worked well, it’s just that it put everyone a lot closer to shooting him. Like real cl-.. they shot him. Fortunately for Meef, he’d kept his armoured cloth on. Buzzer disks are mean against unarmoured foes, but stopped cold by his armoured cloth. His sword was about them in a flash.

Similarly, Giana sprang into action, pulling her bow and arrows through the air to her. TK isn’t fast… not yet, so she had to wait before they landed in her grasp before sending arrows in. Red, meanwhile, slipped carefully over the lip of the pool and around the back of the axe men converging on Meef. She hacked one down viciously and progressed. One of the cultists threw up his arms, fingers crooked and yelled something weird, I can’t remember if I specified, but for the record let’s just say that it’s “I’m scuppered, don’t kill me!”

Super Secret Distress Signal

With one guy surrendered, one guy thrown in the water and two guys butchered, Kelbo wasn’t in the position of power that he expected. He tried to flee, but was shot down by Giana and then pounced upon by Red who tomahawked him dead.

Okay, now they really needed to rest, Giana was running on empty except for Giana’s Bigby which was still able to push glowglobes around to make exploration easier. When they’d all taken a breather, they progressed on to the last door they had to go through – another circular door that looked like it was running with water. It wasn’t, it just looked like that. Inside, some sort of control room, in disrepair and covered with slowly moving little blobs of incandescent yellow. The blobs made their way all over the room like a bunch of wandering slugs, but other than being quite hot indeed, they appeared to have no function and no one messed with them too much.

They wondered over this relic of a bygone age, trying to figure out anything they could, but didn’t have much luck. They did find one more note, handwritten and smudged, that seemed to show a sketch of the handle of the Molecular Bonder as well as some words, the only legible of these being “heat should seal the fissures”.

That got them all thinking about the tank full of orange goo and how to fix that part, so they schlepped all the way back and Meef carefully stitched it up with the Molecular Bonder. It gave out, but he was able to coax it back to life. It was nearly impossible to avoid the orange goop which seeped out, and the contact on his skin was painful and gross. The three sided fish swam on, impassively.

Meanwhile the sisters began hauling wreckage from the wreckage room down to this room. The Automaton’s plate shields were useful too as they boarded up the hole in the hull that the Travonis Ul had evidently caused. Meef used the bonding artifact to bond that too, although he had to restart it again after it flickered out. It seemed to be humming along happily after that though. When they had completed flipping this distressed property, they decided to make their way back to the surface.

They’d been two days down in the tunnel and the rooms beyond, the Chorazy outside were surprised to see them emerge from the narrow gap. The party felt like they’d earned an escort, so they asked for one and the Chorazy provided one. They were taken to the municipal building to see Ataman Veldis and shown through to see him with minimal delay.

Veldis was optimistic that they had solved the town’s hot and cold problems but he wasn’t about to shower them with riches quite yet. He took their report (especially the juicy bit about The Hozai being big lying hypocrites) well though and paid them out. Which is good, because they were running a little low on shins.

Then they returned to their hotel and prepared to hit the town…