Friday, February 10, 2017

Mynock Squadron Recap # 21 [RPG]

[Date unknown]

Kero awakens suddenly, panicked with the realization that she is suffocating!  She grabs at her face and finds an oxygen mask attached, but obviously nothing is coming out of it.  Tearing it away, she flails around and discerns that she is floating in an unknown liquid in a strange, dim cylinder.  A dim red light can be perceived outside the cylinder, but Kero’s first thought has to be on survival.  Seconds later, Warik and Keth awake in similar circumstances, each in their own cylinder, and all three try to escape.  Keth smashes frantically at the inner surface of the cylinder and manages to smash through the brittle material; he slides to the floor on a wave of sticky green fluid.  Seconds later, Kero manages to grasp a small latch on the inside of her cylinder, and a nearly invisible door opens, spilling her to the floor as well.  The two discern they’re in a small chamber with six cylinders, each with a small computer display flashing unknown symbols.  Realizing that their comrades are still trapped, the two split up.  Keth finds a recessed compartment in the wall containing strange instruments and uses one to pry open the door to Max’s cylinder.  Meanwhile, just as a flailing Warik is about to lose consciousness, Kero figures out enough of the symbols on his cylinder’s computer display to free him.  She realizes that Verpine technology is at play.  While she tends to Warik, Keth scrambles to free Tazo-Rhi and succeeds just seconds before irreversible brain damage would have set in!  The members of Gamma Flight then realize that the sixth cylinder is occupied as well: by a massive member of the predatory and reptilian Barabel.  Keth decides to free the stranger, who remains unconscious but alive.

Having narrowly escaped death, the Mynocks try to figure out how they came to be here.  Their memories after returning from their leave on Naboo are quite fuzzy, and each remembers only fragments of events.  Warik remembers watching some sort of instructional holovid on an astrogalactic anomaly called Deroval's Wall, that has radiation storms so thick no ship can pass through without its systems being fried and its crew getting fatal radiation poisoning.  Kero says she remembers a short woman in greasy overalls talking about designing radiation shields from “the specs you stole” and being uncertain if they’d work.  Others remember approaching a large, incredibly strange vessel with odd protuberances and recursive stylized lines that Warik identified as Verpine in design and Tazo-Rhi suggesting that their chances of surviving the mission are less than 15%.  Putting the various pieces together, the pilots come to the conclusion that they haven’t been captured by the enemy, but are in fact on a New Republic vessel!

However, this solace doesn’t solve or explain their current predicament.  The pilots split up to scour the room for an exit.  Warik examines an iris-style door embedded in a wall but finds that it won’t open because only emergency power is operating.  He contemplates trying to reroute enough power from the red emergency lights to get it to cycle open, but decides the risk of failing and leaving everyone in pitch blackness is too high.  Kero notices a small access panel in the floor and a tunnel underneath, and the group decides that’s the best option to move forward.  Max and Keth slip down into the narrow crawlspace and start moving in opposite directions; when Warik peers into the tunnel to examine it, he realizes it’s actually a power diffusion tunnel and that because the ship is on emergency power, surges are likely!  He shouts for the others to get out, and fortunately they do, unharmed.  “I hate Verpine!” Max shouts, even while acknowledging he doesn’t really know what they are.  The decision is made to try to reroute power to the door instead, and Warik’s attempt works perfectly—he starts to remember poring over manuals about Verpine starship technology in preparation for an upcoming mission.

Through the doorway, the members of Gamma Flight see a darkened corridor that leads to an intersection a short distance away.  Keth volunteers to scout ahead, but soon hears a strange shuffling sound coming from the right corridor.  He returns, and the group whispers about what to do.  The consensus is to move forward, and, over objections, Kero insists that the unconscious Barabel be dragged along as he would be vulnerable if left behind.  Max and Keth are dispatched to take up sentry positions in the junction to the corridor to discern if a threat is approaching.  Each tries to silently move forward, but Max’s boot squeaks loudly and suddenly the shuffling gets louder and louder.  Seconds later, several humanoids appear—naked, radiation-scarred, and obviously deranged!

A bloody fracas breaks out, as the insane attackers bite and scratch the Mynocks, and the pilots respond with makeshift weapons found in the stasis lab such as scalpels, an electroshock probe, and even a strange but deadly Verpine spanner!  The battle is one of attrition, but Warik dramatically improves the odds by hurling a container of the liquid found in the cylinders onto the attackers before ripping a live power-cord from the wall and electrocuting them.  Keth takes out another attacker with an impressive and acrobatic kick, while Warik crushes the skull of the last one with a spanner.  After the ordeal, Warik is great badly hurt and asks the group’s medic, Kero, for help.  Strangely, she orders Tazo-Rhi to tend to his wounds, but the Cerean can provide little assistance.

The pilots proceed straight through the junction and soon perceive matching iris-doors on either side of the corridor.  Warik tries his rerouting power trick on the one to the left, and the door spirals open.  Inside is a room quite similar to the one they found themselves in just minutes ago: six large cylinders line the walls, each filled with a strange liquid in which an unconscious figure floats.  Upon closer inspection, it appears that the oxygen supply continues to flow into these cylinders, as each figure is breathing normally.  The pilots all recognize one of the figures—the red-haired, freckled member of Beta Flight, Trill Dunerunner.  Kero has a vague recollection that another figure, a short woman, was the mechanic who told her about radiation-shielding.  A third figure, a massive, 7’ tall Feeorin, also seems somewhat familiar to the group, but the continuing amnesiac effects of the stasis-sedation drugs continue to make clear memories impossible.  The remaining three figures strike no recollections at all.

Having become quite familiar with the computer displays for the cylinders, Kero decides to free all of them.  But as the last one is released, she gives voice to a disturbing thought: what if the liquid in the cylinders is part of the shielding that protects them from radiation?  What if she’s just doomed six living beings to a painful half-death like the insane, savage beings the group was forced to kill earlier?

The pilots of Gamma Flight have escaped from one death-trap—but the path ahead lays fraught with danger.

Director's Commentary (10/02/2017)

Time to go high-concept!  I've always wanted to set up an RPG scenario using the classic short story premise of characters waking up in a strange place with no memory of how they got there.  I wanted to have both a horror-movie and mystery/thriller vibe for this session, which kicks off the storyline I had been building towards when I first conceived the campaign.  In addition, one of my favourite things to do as a director is to put the PCs in a vulnerable position and force them to rely on cunning and improvisation to survive; by stripping them of their usual weapons and gear, you get to see what a PC is really made of.

I used Intelligence checks to see how much each PC remembered, with "laddered" DCs--so the higher the roll, the more info they got.  Most of them actually rolled pretty high, and they were able to piece things together better than I thought they might.

The Barabel and the figures in the other chamber's vats were a combination of back-up PCs developed by the players (some months earlier) and NPCs I wanted to have available for Alpha and Beta flights in Mynock Squadron.  Unfortunately, because this campaign always came second in terms of prep time to the Forgotten Realms campaign I was running simultaneously, I wasn't able to really flesh out these NPCs.  I was always scrambling for time and energy in this campaign, and sometimes it showed.

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