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
Padan 4, Teean 1, Ord 1
The player characters desperately seek cover behind any nearby objects, rocks or ruined structures they can find. A close blast catches Santi Sarkos, causing her to hurl through the air and lie stunned at the base of a rocky plinth. [She suffers 4 Confusion and an Affliction.] Ollia Tarkun and Xosa Sassek bring their radium rifles to bear on the situation, while Atros Aasan attempts to get to Santi. A couple of radium cannon blasts send him racing for cover once more. Ollia attempts to shoot the airship, trying to target the 8th Ray tanks, but her shot goes wide. She still cannot recognize the ship’s markings. Xosa fires her radium rifle at the airship, and manages to damage one of the 8th Ray ballast tanks. The airship begins to list.
The airship descends towards the ruins, smoking from the nether regions of the hull, several individuals aboard attempting to stabilize the vessel. Using the boarding lines, some twenty red Martians descend from the airship down to the ground. Ollia finally sees the livery of the soldiers, and realizes they are from Jacca, one of the Baltan Confederacy cities known for its slavery and criminals! She shouts a warning to the others about who they’re dealing with. [She spent a Threat and a Momentum on the roll.] The player characters manage to take down three of the descending soldiers, and are then forced to take them on in sword-to-sword combat.
The fight between the player characters and the Jaccan soldiers is brutal and savage, as both sides know what the stakes are. Unfortunately, the player characters’ luck runs out. Santi, still reeling from the blast side effects she suffered from puts up a poor fight, though she is able to take down two of the attacking soldiers [usimg a Threat and 2 Momentum]. She suffers from a massive wound [that does 5 Injury and 5 more points of Confusion, causing 2 Afflictions as well.] Ollia’s radium rifle takes down one of her attackers, and then she is forced to fight using her sword. Attacked by three of the slavers, she suffers terrible wounds [2 Wound Afflictions and 3 points of Fear stress and 5 Confusion stress and an Affliction]. Xosa is attacked by four foes and finds herself being overwhelmed for the first time since she was a youngling. She kills one of her attackers, but takes several bad hits and becomes confused and somewhat dazed, swinging wildly. [She suffers 3 Confusion Afflictions and has no stress in the track left.] Atros, facing three foes, asks them what they want. “Your body in chains, in the slave market in Jacca!” one of them tells him. They attack the character, but are unable to get through his defense for a short time. He manages to take one of them down [spending 3 Threat and 1 Momentum], but is then struck by another, and succumbs to both fear and confusion, especially seeing what’s happening with his fellow player characters [he suffers 2 Fear Afflictions and 2 Confusion Afflictions]. Finally, Kantos Shamm finds himself facing another 6 of the Jaccan soldiers, and has his hands full. He manages to take down two of the soldiers, but is then beaten senseless [taking 2 Confusion Afflictions and 2 Wound Afflictions]. He goes down, and loses consciousness. [In an interesting note, the players decided their characters were down enough that they didn’t want to risk more injury or death, and so exercised their right to succumb to the Blackout rules. A neat twist.]
The player characters wake to find themselves in shackles on the lower deck of what must be the airship. [Their stress tracks are all recovered, and for the most part their Afflictions are healed as well.] Ollia and Kantos immediately try to free themselves, but it is futile. A red Martian (dark-skinned and somewhat swarthy, as all Jaccans tend to be), who seems to be the Dwar of the vessel, laughs, and tells the prisoners that their manacles are quite secure. He tells the player characters they are aboard the airship Malussa, and that they are prisoners of the Baltan Confederacy. They are to be taken to Jacca, where they will be sold as slaves. Xosa snarls at him, and he talks about the uniqueness of the Black Pirate, Xosa lunging at him in a futile effort to get to him. After he leaves, posting a guard at the entrance to the lower deck chamber where they are prisoners, the characters discuss what happened and how they ended up here. Kantos says that he would rather travel down the Iss than be sold into slavery, the others all agreeing with him. Xosa agrees with him, saying that it is demeaning to have been captured. Kantos turns his attention to Santi, and learns that she is all right, her more serious wounds having been treated by the Jaccans. The Jaccans obviously don’t want to really harm the characters, since damaged slaves have a lower value. It is obvious that the player characters need to find a way out. However, being manacled presents a somewhat disturbing hurdle to any plans they might make.
Xosa merely laughs, and the characters ask her what’s so funny. “These chains and manacles,” the First Born says. She pulls something out of her left boot [a pair of lockpicks], and sets to work. Within minutes, she frees herself of her shackles (to the amazement of the others) through the benefits of her talent for escaping from imprisonment [she spends 1 Momentum and a Threat to do so]. Xosa quickly frees the rest of the characters with a small device that she takes from one of her harness pouches [she spends 2 Luck to do so] as quietly as she can. With the player characters freed, and all of them being mostly recovered from their fight with the Jaccan slavers, they plan their escape.
Throwing one of his shoes at the door of the room they are imprisoned in, Atros lures the guard on duty in, where he is quickly dealt with by Kantos, concealed on one side of the door, who relieves him of his sword and radium pistol. Exiting into the hallway cautiously and quietly [though Atros succeeds but with a Complication], the player characters run smack into a group of Jaccan soldiers. Kantos quickly takes down the first three of their attackers [spending 3 Momentum], and flips the man’s sword to Xosa. She immediately attacks several more, killing them in quick succession and with precision [after generating 6 Momentum], and the rest of the player characters are now armed with swords and daggers. Santi says that she intends to retrieve her Ptarthian daggers before they leave the airship.
As the player characters reach the staircase to the main deck of the airship, five more Jaccan soldiers attack the group, but they are facing a whirlwind in Xosa and their own fears of the Black Pirates as well. Both Ollia and Kantos take out the remaining three soldiers [spending 5 and 4 Momentum between them from their attack rolls], and Ollia snatches up a radium pistol from among the soldiers’ bodies. She and Kantos move stealthily up on deck with Santi. The area they are in has no one in the immediate area, and the group stealthily make their way around crates and using whatever cover they can find to do so. They find their belongings and weapons in a pair of large crates to the aft of the entrance from below decks, and Santi sighs with pleasure and relief as she handles, nay fondles, her daggers once more [she gets a Luck point]. Confronted once more with some ten Jaccans, the player characters advance on them and attack them with a degree of fury, based more on guilt at having been taken down by the Jaccans in the first place than anything else.
The player characters make their way towards the control column and the wheelhouse, where they finally confront the Dwar of the vessel and his Padwar. The only others left on the vessel are four deckhand slaves, who stay out of the way of the player characters (but have a vested interest in the outcome of what lies ahead). The Dwar tells them his name is Jarad Hal and his padwar is Sera Fallu, and commends them for their ingenuity and tenacity of will in escaping, saying that his master obviously underestimated the characters. He refuses to name his master and/or patron to the player characters; they’ll find out soon enough. He mentions the Black Pirate was also a bit of a surprise, and that they have won the day. However, he points out they are about a padan away from the ruins of the city that he captured them in. Atros takes charge, and telling Jarad Hal that they do not wish to fight him necessarily, says that he suggests that they allow Jarad Hal and Sera Fallu to depart the airship, and survive as best they can on the ground. Xosa is loathe to allow this, but Kantos and Atros both calm her down and convince her it is for the best. No one else here needs to die. The matter is taken out of their hands, however, as both Jaccans move to the attack.
Jarad Hal moves towards Kantos, while Sera Fallu attacks the First Born, Xosa. The two fights are even matches, both Jarad Hal and Sera Fallu equal to the two player characters in combat skills. Santi moves to get involved in the fight with them, but Xosa tells her to stay back. This is her and Kantos’s fight. Kantos and Jarad Hal engage in a battle of wits and sheer strength, beating at each other with their swords and not trying for any real finesse. Both suffer cuts and contusions from their flurry of blows, Kantos also trying to appeal to Hal’s decent side. He realizes, however, that the Dwar will not give up his airship without a fight. Kantos suffers a couple of serious injuries [4 Wound stress and 3 Fear stress], but is able to dispatch his foe with great effort [and the use of generated Momentum]. Jarad Hal curses Kantos with his dying breath, saying that the Jaccans will come after them if it’s the last thing they do. Slavery will be too good a “reward” for him then! Meanwhile, while Sera Fallu is somewhat intimidated at first when facing Xosa, she quickly finds the First Born’s weakness, and uses several attacks to devastating effect [Xosa suffers 5 Injury stress and a Wound Affliction and 3 more Confusion stress]. However, the First Born replies with guile and speed and the fight quickly turns against Sera Fallu. In a final brutal attack, Xosa double slashes the Jaccan female soldier [spending a Luck point], killing her.
After Santi, Ollia and Atros check on both Kantos and Xosa, making sure they’re all right and treating some of the wounds [they spend several Momentum and Luck to heal the Afflictions the player characters took in the fight], the characters turn their attention to the four deckhand slaves. They tell them they are now free men and women, but they still need their help flying and maintaining the Malussa for the moment. After talking among themselves, one of the men, calling himself Hahls [Ferr] tells them that they appreciate what they’ve done and they will help the player characters. Ollia asks Xosa if she can fly the airship, and she says she can - she’s flown bigger vessels than this before. Xosa goes to the control console, and determines they are some 1.2 padans away from the ruins of Kovarr. Hahls asks them what they are planning to do. Ollia tells them that they will return to the ruins of Kovarr to pick up a few items for the scientists back in the Principality, and then make for the nearest city of the Principality, Johor. Hahls says that is acceptable for him and the other three.
The Malussa begins to make her way to the Barsoom south once more, the characters on deck enjoying the rays of the sun on their faces.
Friday night's game session of the John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game campaign was absolutely terrific, the player characters being put in serious jeopardy and having to use their wits (and their swords) to get out of the mess they found themselves in. The players had a terrific time of things, though they told me afterwards the fact that they couldn't roll decent dice rolls to save their lives during the fight with the 20 Jaccan soldiers in the early part of the game session. Fortunately they were aware of the Blacking Out rules the game has to avoid the death stuff, and woke up in what appeared to be even deeper trouble. The swashbuckling during the fights on the airship were tremendous and a lot of fun, a couple of players lamenting they hadn't put too many points into their Might scores. When we wrapped up for the night, the players told me that they really like the combat system of the game, and find it simple and fast. Another recommendation for the game, I suppose.
Overall, Friday night's session of John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game was terrific, and I'm really looking forward to the next session. This session wrapped up the first adventure for the game that I've run, and I'm looking forward to seeing how they do in the next session when we start a new adventure.