Santi Sarkos (KathyB) - Bold Thief
Ollia Tarkun (Angela) - Cautious Explorer
Xosa Sassek (Ellie) - Driven Airship Pilot (First Born)
Atros Aasan (Mark) - Romantic Envoy
Kantos Shamm (Peter) - Compassionate Panthan
Date: Padan 2, Teean 1, Ord 1
The next morning dawns warm and clear, the sandstorm having dissipated during the somewhat sleepless night that the heroes spent. Ollia Tarkun, the last one on watch, wakes the others and they eat a quick, short meal and clean up as best they can. Santi Sarkos exits the building they took shelter in [and after making a check to look around and a stealth roll, which generates 2 Momentum] dashes back inside. She whispers to the others that there are green Martians in the ruins! It is only a miracle they’ve not been spotted.
Xosa Sassek asks how many of them she spotted, and Santi says there were at least three that she saw. The First Born says they could take them on, but Ollia states they don’t know how many there actually are. Someone needs to go and check it out. Ollia volunteers, since she feels she has the skills necessary, and departs the ruined structure. The others prepare themselves for whatever is to come, while Xosa seethes or pouts (depends on one’s perspective) and they await Ollia’s return.
Ollia cautiously works her way around the ruins, using what is left of the buildings as cover, and sees that there are a total of five green Martians, belonging to the Thoxx tribe. Realizing the threat the Thoxx tribe represents to them, Ollia feels that she and her friends, as well as the Black Martian can likely defeat the green Martians without too much struggle. As she returns to where she left the others, she trips over a small root that she didn’t see and lands heavily on the ground. [She rolled 2 successes and a Complication. I also spent a Threat.] With a grunt of pain, that fortunately the green Martians do not hear, she picks herself up and makes her way back to where she left the others. Ollia tells the other player characters and Xosa what she has learned.
The player characters come up with a (quick) plan. Kantos Shamm emerges from the ruined building, and runs at the nearest member of the Thoxx tribe. As the clash of sword on sword attracts the other green Martians to the scene, Ollia Tarkun and the other player characters emerge from the ruins. With a shout from Santi Sarkos to Atros Aasan to stay back, the rest of the player characters engage with the green Martians. Santi attacks the green Martian she focuses on with vigour and seems to gain the upper hand. Her speed and fast strikes with her knives inflict great harm on her opponent, and though he gets a strike or two in [for 2 Confusion and 1 Fear stress), she handily defeats him. Ollia tangles with a rather smart green Martian, and the two engage in a battle of wits, the green Martian striking her a couple of times. Ollia gives as good as she gets, and takes down her foe with solid reasoning and a bit of caution. Xosa moves in on a pair of green Martians, who are instantly frightened by the Black Pirate. She debates using the radium rifle to quickly take care of them, but realizes she wants to impress the other characters, and so lunges at them with her sword. Attacking with gusto, she finds they are no match for her though one of them draws blood [she takes 2 Injury stress] and dispatches them with good use of her sword [and some Momentum and Threat usage]. Atros Aasan stays back, and watches his more combat-oriented friends engage the green Martians. Kantos Shamm is a whirlwind of energy as he attacks the green Martian he faces. Using his knowledge of green Martian anatomy, Kantos strikes several telling blows, though he suffers from one himself [taking 4 Injury stress], but very soundly defeats his foe - but doesn’t kill him. Atros dashes over to where the panthan is, and asks him what he’s doing? He should kill the Thoxx!
Kantos tells Atros that he doesn’t kill unarmed and undefended foes, and tells the green Martian that he can go. The green Martian says his name is Torax Tahl, and that he owes the red Martian a debt for letting him live. He admires Kantos for his martial skills, though they are enemies, and the green Martian then sets off into the wastes. Ollia asks Kantos what madness this is, but the panthan replies that this is the path he follows, the code he adheres to. “Mark my words, Kantos Shamm,” say Ollia, “your mad choice here may yet send us down the Iss.” Kantos acknowledges this, then turns away and bandages his own wounds, the other player characters not seeming all that charitable for the moment. The rest of the player characters deal with their injuries, minor as they are, while Kantos stands guard duty.
Santi, Ollia, Xosa and Atros have a chat about what Kantos did, and agree that he has to be himself but they still don’t like it. Ollia mutters again that it will cause them trouble yet, perhaps not right away but in the (near) future. They make their peace with Kantos, but they are clearly not happy with matters. Since they are there to explore the ruins of Kovarr, the others defer to Ollia (the explorer) and ask how she wants to proceed. Ollia tells them that they need to split up to explore a bit of the ruins and see what they can find. She assigns Santi and Kantos to go as one team while she, Xosa and Atros will make up the other team. The First Born takes exception to this, for reasons that she won’t tell the others, but eventually acquiesces. The two groups move off into the ruins.
Ollia, Xosa and Atros head into the ruins, exchanging some interesting banter about life and Xosa has to be careful not to give away too much information about her people and where they dwell. They explore two ruined structures that Ollia determines are “worthless”, all the while Atros keeps trying to ferret out some information from Xosa. Xosa reaches a boiling point and, drawing her sword on the envoy, tells him in no uncertain terms to stop pestering her or she’ll gut him like the cur he is. This infuriates Atros, and he almost loses his temper and draws his sword but exercises tremendous willpower to not do so [he spent a Threat to keep his cool, since he was out of Momentum]. Entering another small building, the player characters discover what appear to be skeletal remains. Atros examines them, while Xosa keeps guard and determines they are red Martian and only several days old. The marks he finds on the bones tells him that they were attacked by some large animal, not the green Martians, and Ollia says what they’re all thinking: “White ape”. While Atros confirms his diagnosis [and spends a Threat to do so], Ollia examines the area and finds what appears to be a journal in a small pile of rocks. There is a sudden roar from outside, and Xosa curses and then tells them there’s white ape coming towards the ruined structure.
Meanwhile, Santi and Kantos move off into the ruins as well, Santi teasing him about leaving the green Martian, Torax Tahl, alive. When he hotly asks if she blames him for this too, she replies defensively that she’s the one who stood up for him with the others. He apologizes for his rash words, and they continue their search. Reaching a large structure that has many gaping holes in it and lots of rubble around it, the two move cautiously into the building. They smell a charnal odour before they enter the building, and Kantos says they need to back away… but they are too late. With a roar, a white ape comes charging out of the ruins through one of the large gaps, roaring as it goes! Frightened out of their wits [the two characters having each taken 2 Fear stress from the roar], the two player heroes race back the way they came - only to hear another roar of another white ape somewhere up ahead of them!
Ollia snatches up the journal or book and shoves it into one of the pouches on her harness, and then unslings her radium rifle and heads for the nearest breach in the wall of the ruined structure. Both Xosa and Atros are there, the former out of breath, as a large white ape moves menacingly towards them. At that moment, they hear the distinctive scream of another white ape, somewhere near them. Ollia fires her weapon at the creature, and….the rifle jams! [She rolled 1 Complication and no successes on her attack roll.] Atros and Xosa move towards the white ape, their swords out and attack the creature. Before they can do so, the white ape swats the two of them aside [they each suffer 2 Injury stress and a Confusion stress], its attention drawn by the gleam of Ollia’s rifle. The ever-cautious explorer tosses the rifle aside, and draws her sword and moves in to the attack while Atros and Xosa try to get their bearings again. Ollia strikes the white ape, gashing it across the body, but merely seems to enrage it. It tries to bat her aside as well, but she nimbly dodges out of the way [spending 2 Threat to do so]. Atros and Xosa both move in on the white ape, attacking simultaneously [and spending 2 Threat each], and the creature suffers terrible damage. Ollia manages to strike it again with her sword, and inflicts terrible damage [she spends 3 Threat for attack and 2 Threat for damage] and the white ape tumbles to the ground. Checking the body of the ape out, Atros is shocked to see that it is not dead, merely unconscious. When he tells the others, Ollia shouts, “Filthy creatures!” and moves in and proceeds to slash its throat! The player characters collapse to the ground, hurting and somewhat shocked by the whole encounter and the speed at which it unfolded.
Meanwhile, Santi and Kantos realize they can’t outrun the white ape that is pursuing them, and make for the nearest ruined structure. The white ape is in hot pursuit. Santi draws her radium pistol and prepares to fire at it, but Kantos tells her that that’s not fair odds. She argues with him momentarily, but then realizes she can’t win that one and against her better judgement, draws her two Ptarthian daggers. Uttering a prayer to their ancestors, the two race towards the white ape. Santi inflicts a couple of minor wounds to the creature with her knives [spending the last of her Momentum and using a couple of Threat], using her speed and cunning to avoid the sharp claws and teeth of the white ape. Kantos uses his speed and strength to attack with his sword, managing to inflict some injuries to its chest and arms, but is sent flying by a swipe of the white ape’s arm. He lands heavily and is stunned [he suffers 3 Confusion stress]. Kantos and Santi regroup, managing to dodge the attacks of the white ape, though Santi takes a grazing wound to her thigh [1 Injury stress]. Santi then moves in and makes a pair of slashing attacks [she spends a Luck point, as well as 4 Threat to do so!], and manages to seriously hurt the creature [spending 3 more Threat, causing it 2 Wound Afflictions]. Kantos strikes with his sword twice as well [using a Luck point, 2 Threat on the attack and 3 Threat on the damage], and between them, the two red Martian characters take down the white ape finally. Though injured, the two pick themselves up off the ground and go in search of their fellow player characters.
Santi and Kantos come across Ollia, Xosa and Atros just inside the ruined building they all started out at, the body of the white ape lying there just outside their range of vision. The five player characters assess their conditions, and realized they got lucky and survived the attack of the white apes. “We should have expected to encounter [white apes] in the ruins, shouldn’t we?” says Ollia. “But we didn’t, did we?” Santi says sourly. “Hey, we’re alive,” Kantos counters, “and that’s all that matters.” The player characters turn their attention to each other, and start to heal some of the more serious damage, while bandaging themselves to the best of their ability. Ollia suggests that perhaps they should move on from the building. The body of the dead white ape may attract more attention…
Friday night's game session of the John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game campaign was simply amazing. The session had one relatively simple combat, one very difficult combat, and some excellent roleplaying in between. Peter's decision to have Kantos Shamm not kill the green Martian, Torax Tahl, led to some inter-character conflict that could have gone either way, and there was some other moments of roleplaying during the session, notably Kathy's Santi's cynical view of the world, that led to some interesting moments. The fight against the two White Apes was one that the players told me had them actually worried about their characters' lives (though in John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game it's not that easy for player characters to die). However, their inability to roll successes or do a lot of damage in the fight without spending Threat had them in dire straits. I started the fight with the white apes with 10 Threat, and finished it with 21 Threat (and that was with spending Threat against them as well at a couple of points)! The players told me later that they loved the game session, that it was one of the best game sessions we've done.
Overall, a terrific game session of the John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game Friday night campaign. I'm looking forward to running the game in another two weeks or so.