Kartos of Pakku (SteveR) - Adaptable Explorer
Jaxti Jarr (Tammy) - Adventurous Scientist
Rendar Thule (Keith) - Exiled Beastmaster
The players' first session (Session 0) of the game consisted of creating their characters (see the link above) along with an introduction to the world of Barsoom and the game's genre. They learned the basic mechanics of the game, we talked at length about some subjects pertinent to the game world, and then the players partook in a series of sample combats to get a feel for the Combat system of the game. It should be noted that Tammy couldn't make it out that week for personal reasons, but I created her character with her on the phone during the following week, and answered as many of her questions about aspects of the game and character creation as I could.
And that leads us to Session 1, and the start of the campaign...
[Since Tammy was not present last week during character creation and sample combats...
I started the session off with a quick review of the basic rules and mechanics for this incarnation of the d20 Momentum system. I then proceeded to talk to the players about life on Barsoom, customs, culture, and the like and then proceeded to talk to them about basic knowledge that they have about the area of Barsoom they are playing in - the Principality of Karakh, located 2,500 haads northeast of the Forest of Lost Men, and its rival, the Confederacy of Baltan. Once that was finished, we started in on actual game play.]
The player characters are traveling together through the desert wastes of Barsoom, approximately some 50 haads to the southeast of the Principality of Karakh city of Pakku. They have managed to avoid most of the [somewhat weak, but still dangerous] sandstorm in the area, and are currently looking around to get their bearings. The red Martian explorer Kartos of Pakku sees what might be a structure or ruin of some sort in the distance, to the southeast. Discussing the matter with exiled red Martian beastmaster Rendar Thule and adventurous red Martian scientist Jaxti Jarr, they decide to head in that direction as new ruins on Barsoom (or at least they don’t know of) are always worth checking out.
The player heroes proceed in that direction, though not without mishap. The ground becomes somewhat rockier, though still sandy, and there are small breaks in the rocks that one can easily get one’s foot caught in or worse. They move as cautiously as they can, but even so, Rendar Thule’s foot gets caught in a gap in the somewhat rocky terrain, and he lightly sprains the ankle on his left foot. As they get closer to the object/ruins that Kartos spotted, they realize that it’s not a ruin - it’s an obelisk of some sort.
Kartos, Jaxti and Rendar cautiously approach the obelisk, though it is obvious that Jaxti wants to rush right up to it. The obelisk stands some 2 sofads or so tall, is around 2 ads in width, and 3 ads in depth. It appears to be made of a common construction material from early in Barsoom’s history that is still used today, duralite, and has squiggles of various shapes and sizes along the external edges of the obelisk as well. Jaxti is excited by the discovery, but both Kartos and Rendar are more concerned with other, immediate threats. While Jaxti moves closer to examine the obelisk, both Kartos and Rendar go around the object to see what lies behind it. They spot what appears a small swath of greenery, but it is Rendar who notices a small wet spot, a patch of sandy ground that seems to be swirling a bit, somewhat like a wet patch of sand.
Jaxti examines the obelisk, and determines that it was constructed a long time ago. Her energy scanner (an artefact that she discovered in a set of ruins three years past) detects a slight energy emission from the obelisk. Aiming it at Kartos, she determines he as an energy field much weaker, as does Rendar. She is able to decipher some of the writing on the obelisk. It dates back to the Time of Seas! She is able to make out the words “sand” and “squid” in the ancient dialect, but not much else. As she touches the obelisk, it releases an electrical charge and she is sorely wounded [she suffers 3 Stress damage split between Injury and Confusion], and utters a scream as she gets thrown back a bit, and goes down.
Meanwhile, Kartos goes over the the swath of vegetation, and sees that there is the skeletal remains of a green Martian lying in it. There are no identifying markers on his/her remains, as the badge on his harness is blank. And there’s no clues as to what might have killed the green Martian, at least nothing that Kartos recognizes. The curious Rendar takes his sword and pushes it into the wet spot of sand. It goes in about 10 sofs, and then is coated in what appears to be blackish slime that swirls up the sword. He quickly pulls the sword out, and the black slime-like material is revealed to be - tentacle material! A three-sofads long tentacle rises out of the wet sand, and Rendar backs off.
Kartos, seeing what’s happening, shouts that it’s a sandsquid. As Rendar asks if they’re dangerous, another tentacle rears out of the wet spot of sand and slashes at him with its needle-like protrusions. Rendar is just able to avoid the blow, fortunately. Two more tentacles, much longer than the original one, erupt from the ground and lash at both Rendar and Kartos. Both are struck, and wounded [Kartos takes 2 Confusion and 1 Fear Stress, while Rendar suffers 2 Injury and 1 Confusion Stress]. Rendar attempts to use his animal calming abilities on the sandsquid, but it seems strangely immune to his charms. Two more sandsquids burst out of the ground, one between Kartos and Rendar and the other behind the dazed and confused Jaxti. The heroes fight the three sandsquids, and are able to take out two of the three sandsquids. All three characters are wounded, notably Jaxti, who suffers serious wounds [she takes 4 Confusion damage, 2 Injury damage and a Fear point, as well as a Confusion Affliction]. The player characters attempt to treat their injuries to the best of their ability, and do so, but Jaxti is still suffering from one Affliction.
As the characters test whether the energy field of the obelisk is limited by throwing pieces of the sandsquid tentacles at the obelisk, learning that it seems to have a perpetual charge as the sandsquid pieces are disintegrated after bursting into flame from the electrical attack, Kartos observes what appears to be a dust cloud to the southeast moving in their direction. The characters debate what to do, but as the dust cloud resolves in Kartos’s field glasses to a group of 59 or so green Martians - Horkads! - running in their direction, Rendar takes a desperate chance. Tying his rope around his harness, he has Kartos and Jaxti hold the rope at their ends and enters the wet spot of sand. He descends 20 sofads, holding his breath, but that is the extent of his rope’s length. Yanking on the rope in the pre-arranged signal, the other two pull him back up. Rendar sees that the Horkad tribesmen are much closer than they were. Gathering up his equipment, Rendar tells them to follow him - and leaps straight into the wet spot of sand! Seeing they don’t have much choice as the green Martians are almost on them, Kartos and Jaxti follow suit.
The fall through the liquid sand is terrifying to say the least, and each of the characters lose track of how far they descend, though it seems to slow as they reach the “bottom”. They land hard on their feet and rear ends (each character suffering some damage), Jaxti going unconscious [each character takes 3 points of damage to Confusion and Injury, Jaxti blacking out, as her Stress track fills completely]. Kartos takes out a lumen and uses it to examine and treat Jaxti [he heals one of her Confusion Afflications], while Rendar uses his own lumen to examine the area the characters find themselves in. He sees they are in a natural cavern that has been slightly expanded. The ground is relatively hard rock with sand, the walls to which are covered in webbing of some sort and have moss and fungus obscuring their surfaces. One end of the cavern has a natural opening leading into darkness. The air of the cavern is moist with an aroma they can’t recognize.
After Jaxti recovers and the two red Martian men have their injuries treated, the player characters move to the natural opening. Cautiously peering in through the natural opening using their lumens, Kartos, Jaxti, and Rendar see what appears to be the edge of a jungle in the darkness. They hear the sounds of raucous squawking and Kartos hears the sound of running water...
And that was the first session of the Sunday group's John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game campaign. The game session went pretty well, I thougt, and the players had a good time of it. This was the first actual session of play where Keith (the new player to the group whom I met at CanGames) joined SteveR and Tammy, and they did a pretty good job, interacting well with each other. One of the questions asks of me was what they were doing around 100 haads from Pakku, and while I didn't say much, that question will be answered when they have a flashback to what happpened in Pakku. (Hopefully during the next session.) The fight with the sandsquids went pretty well, and they had a lot of fun with that and getting used to working with the Combat system and the game mechanics for that. Tammy's character, Jaxti Jarr, took some serious damage during the session (she just couldn't make her defense rolls!), but survived largely because of the John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game game rules about killing player characters and how to keep them alive. I wasn't crazy about the way the players didn't use a lot of Threat (preferring Luck and getting some great dice rolls to generate tons of Momentum), so there were times when I didn't have a lot of options during the fight with the sandsquids, but we'll see how this works out since I'm still using the House Rule in playtest to see how it works out.
Overall, I had a terrific session of the John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game with the Sunday gaming group, and they're definitely intrigued where it's leading. I'm looking forward to the next game session, but that won't happen for two weeks as Tammy is on-call this coming weekend.
Hope folks enjoyed the write-up on the first game session.
Comments and thoughts are always welcome. :)