Friday, September 9, 2016

A Time to Harvest Session 10: Cataclysm!

We had a very eventful session this week, and one that I'm happy to report that players referred to as a "nail-biter" and "tense" - good! That means I'm doing my job as GM.  Things are getting bad in the campaign world, and the players are realizing and reacting to that.

Dramatis Personae:

  • Perry Webster (played by Dan), journalism student
  • Darren Gray (played by Mike), engineering student
  • Randall Vhloche (played by Sean), geography student
  • Roni (played by Katie), history student
  • Mack Hairpin (played by Dave), soldier
The giant, gelatinous tree-horror had just swallowed Nick Jackson whole, and grabbed Drs. Drake and Matherson.  Bullets passed ineffectively through its soft flesh.  With a roar, an on-fire pick-up truck barreled into the clearing, the driver bailing out at the last minute as the truck slammed into the creature.  With a scream of pain, the thing turned and began to shamble away into the woods.  A thrown grenade seemed to stagger the creature, causing it to drop Dr. Matherson.  

A moment's investigation showed that Dr. Matherson did not survive the blast of the grenade and the twenty-foot drop to the ground when the creature released her.  

With the driver of the truck, a soldier named Mack Hairpin from the FOC military camp, joining them, they gave chase to the creature even as the rain began to come down more heavily, following the trail of barrel-sized footprints and puddles of viscous, greenish blood.  They found the creature pacing back and forth over a ten-foot area on the side of Broken Hill, and split up to try and surround it.  Roni stepped on a twig loudly, and the creature began shambling in his direction; Randall used the opportunity to get close to where the creature was, realizing that it was guarding a trapezoidal cave entrance.  Randall dropped four grenades into the cave and took off running.  

When the grenades went off, Mack charged the creature with his Tommy Gun blazing, getting hit and thrown twenty feet through the air by one of its tentacles in the process.  The creature, unfazed, began to march towards town.  Mack revealed that four more of these creatures, as well as a swarm of the Outer Ones, had descended on the military camp right before he fled.

The investigators debated this, and decided to head towards the military camp to look for survivors and supplies.  What they found was a massacre; men torn to shreds, men trampled into the mud, hanging limp from the branches of nearby trees.  Some men were even frozen and shattered into pieces.  They were all disturbed by this scene, Roni especially.  Feeling his skin begin to crawl and feeling trapped and suffocated in his clothes, Roni was compelled to strip down just to be able to breathe.

They found one survivor, a young man named Teddy Hobson, half-frozen, his legs and left arm shattered.  He looked up at Randall, managed to stammer out about the trees coming to life and a swarm of "big bugs" attacking them with guns that froze, and then his gaze drifted down to the fragmentary remains of his legs.  Hollow-eyed, he looked up again at Randall, shaking.  Filling a syringe with morphine, Randall delivered oblivion to the poor man, holding him as he died to give him a comforting final illusion that he would not be alone.

[GM's Note: This was one of the most powerful scenes I've ever run in my career as a GM.]

Debating whether to follow the tree-creatures - of which they know there is at least five, and nothing short of ramming with a truck seemed to injure - into Cobb's Corners, or whether to return to Broken Hill and look for another entrance into the caves, the investigators decided to pursue the second course of action - they knew that the Outer Ones could be killed.

Returning to Broken Hill as the rain increased in intensity, the sky beginning to flicker with the occasional flash of lightning, they began to circle the hill, looking for signs of a secondary entrance.  While doing so, they caught sight of a squadron of five Outer Ones - a stockier, more heavily-built variation then they had seen before - winging towards them.  They tried to take them out with grenades and rifle-fire, but between the swiftly-moving targets and the storm they failed to do so.

Landing, the lead Outer One commanded the investigators to lay down their arms, flanked by a pair of creatures armed with silvery devices that resembled elongated french horns.  The investigators lay down their firearms, holding on to their collections of grenades, and Darren kept the Electric Gun he had taken from "Professor Harrold"/Daphne Devine in his pocket.

Seizing the investigators, the Outer Ones flapped and took off, flying their captives to nearby Round Hill, alighting with them in front of a cave entrance.  The investigators were marched inside and directed to a surgical suite - metal grates over disposal tubes in the floor echoed with the sound of rushing water, the walls lined with racks of strange instruments, a nearby tub in which Outer One limbs and organs twitched with partial life, floating suspended in a pinkish fluid.  A circle of adjustable tables occupied the center of the room, and the investigators were directed to lay down on these.

Panicked, Randall pulled the pin on a grenade (keeping the lever held firmly in place) and made a dash for the nearest grate, lifting it up and diving down, preferring to take his chances in the waters below than in the Outer Ones' control.  Mack tried to wrestle one of the strange "guns" from one of the creatures, and narrowly avoided being beaten with the butt of it.

Darren pulled the Electric Gun from his pocket and tried to activate it, without success.  At the sight of a human holding a piece of their technology, the other armed Outer One turned its weapon on him, firing a blue-white beam.  The blast took Darren square in the chest and enveloped him, freezing him solid in an instant, killing him before he knew he was hit.

[GM's Note: as written, Mi-Go Mist Projectors produce a quickly-spreading line of freezing vapor, five feet wide.  I decided mine would be adjustable.]

At the sight of this, Roni, Perry and Mack situated themselves atop the tables.  "What are you going to do with us?" Roni asked.

"How would you like life eternal?" the creature buzzed in response.


Tomorrow I'm going to be in Buffalo for the day, running two sessions of Cthulhu back to back at Queen City Conquest.  If you see me, come say hi!

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