Kartos of Pakku (StevR) - Adaptable Explorer
Jaxti Jarr (Tammy) - Adventurous Scientist
Rendar Thule (Keith) - Exiled Beastmaster
Date: Padan 1, Teean 1, Ord 1
The player characters attempt to get their bearing at the cave entrance, but are unable to do so as it is dark and seemingly night. Using his lumen, Kartos of Pakku advances out of the cave. All he can make out is that the vegetation is jungle-like and that the flora is largely unknown to him though there are one or plant varieties he recognizes. He is followed outside by Jaxti Jarr, brushing the vines near the entrance aside, who looks around and is unable to see or find much of interest (since her specialty is not botany). She attempts to use her energy scanning device on the area, but there are no readings. Rendar Thule emerges from the cave, looking around quite nervously. He is disturbed by the whole scenario itself, not trusting his senses that the environment is real (he believes it to be illusion) and discomfited by the moist smell and the sound of water somewhere in the distance.
While Rendar is somewhat stupefied with disbelief over the situation he is in, he still looks around to see the lay of the land. Both he and Jaxti see there are various insects, small animals and the like in the area, all of which shy away from the light of the lumen. They do not notice as Kartos moves off some distance from them, a few ads into the jungle, and is lost from sight. He investigates the various plant life, recognizing some species but not others, all of it quite lush. In the dark, and with only the lumen for light, he fails to spot the gourd on the ground, until he steps in it. There is a buzzing sound and a cloud of spores is released into the air. He reacts as something encases his foot, and finds he’s been encased in a hard, neither plant- nor animal-like material. [He suffers 2 Injury stress, a Fear stress, and a Wound Affliction.] He feels a numbness in his leg [as a spider web effect under the skin goes up his foot, an infection by a parasite from the gourd after the creature within penetrated his boot with its snake-like fangs], and when he reaches down to touch the ankle area, his hand suffers the same numbness and he sees the spider-like effect under the skin on his hand. As he attempts to do several things, the effect on his hand and foot intensify, the toxin spreading up the limbs. He cries out to the others for help. Meanwhile, he quickly ties a piece of clothing very tightly around the leg as a tourniquet.
Distracted by matters of her own, Rendar leaves Jaxti where she is, and proceeds cautiously to make his way through the vegetation, noticing as he does so that his lumen is somewhat fainter. He reaches the area where Kartos is, and sees what has happened. When Kartos explains that his foot is trapped, encased by whatever the substance is, Rendar throws him his rope and after Kartos has tied it around himself, the red Martian beastmaster yanks him free with sheer strength, the casing around Kartos’s foot cracking. With the numbness spreading in both Karts’s foot and hand, Rendar supports him partially and heads back to where he left Jaxti.
Meanwhile, Jaxti has no desire to stay there on her own, and the scientist starts to follow after Rendar. She meets the two of them, Rendar still supporting Kartos, and they decide that they can’t return to the cave to treat his condition, and so start to look him over in the open. They remove his boot carefully, finding two puncture marks have gone through the thoat material, and find the same puncture marks through his leggings. The spider web pattern under his skin is the same on both the foot and the hand, and both are spreading. Rendar applies a large piece of cloth as a tourniquet to his arm as well. The beastmaster figures that perhaps they can learn something back at the site of the attack on Kartos, and cautiously makes his way back to where he found the injured explorer, telling Jaxti to look after him as best she can.
Arriving at the site of Kartos’s injury, Rendar carefully examines the area. He finds some remnant spores floating around and manage to ignore them. He finds what appears to be a shattered egg of some sort [actually a gourd] with viscous green liquid in it [the same colour as the material that encased Kartos’s foot]. And there is movement within! Moving closer, he brings his lumen to bear on it. A small, worm-like creature the colour of night rises from the liquid, snake-like small fangs bared, trying to reach his lumen, but fails to do so. Realizing that Kartos has been envenomed, he decides there is only one course of action and quickly heads back to where he left the explorer and Jaxti.
Meanwhile, Jaxti decides to try and clean Kartos’s arm up using some of the soil [actually loam] from the ground. In a moment of serendipity, when she rubs some of the soil onto his arm, the toxin comes out through his skin, and is absorbed by the soil [which changes to a coppery colour]. Realizing what she’s learned, she takes some more of the soil and puts it on his arm, and more of the toxin is absorbed. The spider-like pattern under his skin visibly shrinks back down toward his hand. Before she can treat his foot the same way, Rendar returns, shouts that Kartos has been poisoned, and proceeds to grab the explorer’s leg and attempts to suck the poison out of him. He immediately falls victim to the toxin [suffering 2 Confusion stress, 1 Injury stress, and 2 Confusion Afflictions], and is in serious danger. Jaxti literally pulls him off Kartos, tells him what she’s learned about the soil properties, and immediately rubs some soil on his face and puts some soil into his mouth! She then treats Kartos’s foot and see the same effect happen, and also gives Rendar another “treatment” as well. She has both men apply the soil again and again, telling them to keep doing so until the toxin is completely out of their system.
Several zodes later, both red Martians are healed more or less, and treat each other’s Affliction injuries, Jaxti treating Kartos’s and Kartos then treating Rendar’s. The three characters have noticed that their lumens have stopped functioning. They also notice that the cave they’re in is being illuminated as the reddish yellow (!!!) sun of Barsoom appears in the sky! They are somewhat frightened by this, their eyes having to adapt, and Rendar comments that this must be a dream. Finding themselves surrounded by the jungle, Rendar decides to climb the nearest tree life, and see where the water is as well as orient a path of least resistance to it. He climbs the tree easily, and determines there is no easy path to the water, though he spots what appears to be large, snaking body of water easily wider than one of the famed Martian canals in the near distance. His beliefs are somewhat shattered by this again. There is motion above him, but nothing visible, though he does spot claw-like marks in the tree bark that remind him of banth marks. Descending to the ground again, he tells the others what he has learned, and the player characters set off in the direction of the snaking body of water, Kartos leading the way.
Several exhausting zodes of travel later, the terrain of the jungle gradually gives way to forest, and then to rocky outcroppings with coarse brush and other hardy plants and shrubs. The characters almost stumble into what appears to be a clearing, with some flowering plants that Kartos doesn’t recognize, but there are also traces of the Martian moss that is familiar to the characters. They pause near the edge of the clearing, still given cover by the woods. They try to decide what to do, and assess the clearing area. Rendar detects movement and rustling in the forest brush at the far end of the clearing. Fearing the worst, perhaps banths, he tells the other two to stay hidden, steps into the clearing, and shouts a typical Martian greeting: “Kaor!”
There is a rustling sound from the far edge of the clearing, and a figure steps through. It appears to be a pale-skinned red Martian devolved to an almost caveman-like state, with shaggy hair, wide but sunken eyes, somewhat squat and more muscled but less dexterous, with sharp pointed teeth that have two protruding almost fang-like teeth. He also bears a large club, that he seems to be able to lift effortlessly. The figure is wearing what appears to be fur and animal hide clothing. After several moments, the creature gestures at itself and proclaims, “Rytog!” When Rendar states his name, the creature says, “Not rytog!” in a somewhat menacing voice. Once Kartos and Jaxti come into the open, the conversation with the [rytog] devolves into an almost Abbott and Costello routine for several minutes, until finally, another one of the creatures steps through into the clearing. This one has an intelligence to both its face and eyes. It identifies the characters by the names they have given themselves, and introduces itself as Lyaam. He says that he is the rytog leader of the local community, and then answers some of their questions. They talk about various subjects, notably that the world around them is called Faritan and that it is a “Landscape.” He does not know how Faritan came to be nor what a Landscape is, only that they exist. He is somewhat puzzled by their arrival, when they tell him what has happened, since this means they did not use the portal. Two other rytogs emerge from the forest. Lyaam talks to them in a strange language. He tells them a bit about what he knows of Faritan, the presence of other communities of rytogs, and the one who rules Faritan from his base deep in the landscape, the Mad One. Since the characters appear to be somewhat worn out from their experiences, and Rendar is still expressing disbelief in the “world” around him, Lyaam offers to take the characters to their community. The three player characters agree.
Lyaam and the other two rytogs fall into step with the player characters, as the former leads them through the forest which quickly turns back into the jungle. All the time, a loud, roaring sound intensifies. Eventually, the player characters emerge into a large cleared area to see a cliff face, a massive waterfall being the source of the loud roaring, the water plunging into what appears to be a large river that makes the canals of Barsoom look very thin indeed, some 150 sofads across! The community of rytogs obviously live and dwell here, using the various caves in the cliff face as their homes, though several large huts and stone buildings that were once ruins also seem to be inhabited. Before they can react further, a high, thin reedy voice exclaims, “By Issus! More red Martians!”
Turning in that direction, they are astounded to see an extremely old red Martian male wearing what appears to be [to Kartos] old explorer’s clothing, tattered but still intact thanks to various repairs and the patchwork furs. The old man starts babbling, but eventually introduces himself as Fillar Felar, a name that Kartos recognizes from his knowledge of famous explorers who lived centuries ago. The player characters engage in small talk with Fillar, much to the amusement of Lyaam, but learn a good deal from him. They learn a bit about Landscapes, though he admits that he knows nothing about the technology surrounding them, and hear that it took him several centuries to find one of the portals (the Obelisks of Osrac, though none of the player characters have ever heard of them, and Jaxti has no knowledge of them in her scientific lore) and figure out how it functions. They learn from him a bit more of the layout of the landscape, and also that the Mad One that Lyaam mentioned is one Van Kallas, a scientist of some repute whose specialty is the biological sciences. Jaxti remembers that according to the history records, Van Kallas was a brilliant, somewhat sociopathic personality who cares nothing about the world and people around him, obsessed with his scientific works and experiments. It turns out that the rytog Lyaam was “uplifted” from his primitive state. Van Kallas guards his compound, called Faritan One, with mind-controlled beasts and also has robotic servants and guards. Fillar tells them that he got the robots from one Sorvad, a robotics scientific genius who provided Kallas with some guardian robots for a surface installation before he disappeared. Fillar doesn’t understand how the player characters came to Faritan, since they didn’t use a portal based on their description of the tunnel through the sand they give him. They learn a bit more about matters, including the fact that there is an obelisk on the far side of the Faritan landscape, but several hazards to get to it will be in their way. The characters learn that their devices do not function because of a power dampening field that is due to the portal device, which requires a good deal of power, although Van Kallas has devised some means of negating the power drain for his robots and his camp technology. This may be due to the age of the ruins, as they pre-date his arrival in Faritan.
Before they can talk further, Lyaam tells them that Fillar will have to wait, as the characters must be tired from their exertions. He has another rytog, Tarsu, lead the characters to a cave where they can take some rest, refresh themselves, and perhaps join the rytogs and Fillar for the evening meal. At the cave, the characters find basic accommodations and Jaxti is surprised to find a rod of metal with a stud over the entrance to the cave. When pressed, she determines that an opaque energy barrier of some kind that also dulls the roar of the waterfall, creates a “door” to the cave.
Several zodes later, the player characters eat the evening meal with the rytogs. There is much discussion of the technology to be found in the Landscape and what affect introducing it to the surface world would have, but a more pressing matter is discussed: the need to stop Van Kallas's experiments in Faritan, and potentially the need to keep the secret of the portal and Faritan's location secret, lest surface dwellers come to pillage the natural resources (that is, the resources). After much discussion about how to handle various aspects of the matter, and deciding that they need to take down the Mad One, though not necessarily kill him, the player characters decide to go and visit and confront Van Kallas...
Sunday afternoon's game session of the John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game campaign was a fascinating one for me, as I had wanted to see how the players were going to approach the mystery of where they were and what they would have to deal with. I was pretty pleased with the session overall, though really wondered what Keith thought he was doing having Rendar suck the poison out of SteveR's character's, Kartos of Pakku's, foot! It was a fun afternoon all told and the players seemed to have a good session of it. There was some decent roleplaying among the players and the initial encounter with the Rytogs had us laughing out loud somewhat, putting a bit of a damper on the seriousness of the situation.
Overall, a lovely session of the John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game, and I can't wait to play the game again the first week of July (as Tammy's working for the next two weeks). Looking forward to it!