Kartos of Pakku (Steven P. Rpss) - Adaptable Explorer
Jaxti Jarr (Tammy Powers) - Canny Scientist
Haju Hallan (GM/NPC) - Disciplined Panthan
Padan 5, Teean 1, Ord 1
The Hantaas now lies some 5.7 haads away from the ruins of Tharsis. Some six zodes have passed, and the exhausted Jaxti Jarr has gone below for some sleep and a bit of food after her repair work. During this time, Kartos of Pakku attempted to come up with various ideas and plans for how they can get into the ruins, undetected by the Thoxx green Martians without endangering the Hantaas or her crew. He makes some observations of the ruins from this distance using his field glasses, but is unable to learn much of anything. He goes and helps several of the crew handling first aid on some of those injured during the Thoxx attack, and encounters a panthan [mercenary] also assisting the crew with various tasks. It is obvious the Dwar is busy and the able crew of the Hantaas are evaluating the damage and starting to make repairs.
Padan 6: The next morning dawns, and repairs on the Hantaas continue as the crew worked steadily through the night. Jaxti wakes, and after her morning meal and cleaning up a bit more, she goes in search of Kartos, who is now up and about. The Dwar approaches her, and thanks her for her work on the Eighth Ray machinery, also adding that her working on that has helped with the repair time on the ship. He tells them that the Hantaas is fully airworthy once more, but that her ability to maneuver is a bit limited due to the attack by the green Martians. He goes back to working with his crew, and Jaxti finkds Kartos, back at the deck railing and looking at the ruins with his field glasses.
The two discuss some strategies for getting into the ruins, several of the crew listening in on their talk. They learn from the crew, much to their surprise, that the green Martians have not entered the ruins of Tharsis, although they did send a few scouts in. These, however, did not make it further than the trail to the northeast before they retreated back the way they had come. Jaxti isn’t sure what that means, but she points out there has to be a reason why the green Martians haven’t gone into the ruins. Perhaps something is preventing them from doing so? Dwar Jakka joins them, and they discuss more strategy on how to enter the ruins, and a plan is concocted. The Hantaas will travel due west of the ruins, and drop the characters off at some distance from their western edge. The player characters will need to make their way on foot to the ruins, but the hope is that the green Martians may not see them do so. For this, Jakka recruits a group of five decoys from among his crew to land. They will split up from the party, and perhaps lure the green Martians away from the player characters. In addition, the panthan that Kartos met briefly earlier, gets involved in the planning session. He introduces himself as Haju Hallan, and agrees to accompany the player characters if they’ll have his sword. Haju tells them he’ll accompany them for a price, their employers paying a standard wage (perhaps with some hazard pay later) for hiring a mercenary. Dwar Jakka says their plans sound solid, and tells them they should make their preparations, and he orders Padwar Samja to prepare to set sail once more for their destination to the west of the city ruins. The player characters and Haju go about their preparations and decide on their priorities.
- The pillar: get the artificial light, if possible.
- The wrecked flier: can they get it working? Find out if possible who/what shot it down, can they repair it, and what was it carrying?
- Map interesting spots in the ruins, noting things of interest that people may return for.
- What are the green Martians afraid of?
Several zodes later, the Hantaas arrives at its destination, and drops off the five decoy members of the crew as well as Kartos, Jaxti and Haju. They are somewhere to the northwest of the massive pillar in the ruins of Tharsis, and prepare to sneak in. The three red Martians understand their main purpose and objectives, and the landing goes off without a hitch. They slog away from the Hantaas, as it lifrs off, heading in the direction of the pillar - and then realize there is no pillar in sight! [Kartos failed his orientation check.] Kartos goes to the top of a nearby hillock, and reports there’s no sign of the pillar. He does see that there are broken eggs on the hillock quite close to his location, and identifies them as Hanni eggs [a kestrel-like, silent bird of Barsoom that frequents terrain such as this, though they are normally found in mountains]. He tells the others of his find, and that they seem to have hatched within the last padan. He spots several more of the nests in the area, one of which has hatchlings even as he watches.
Scouting the area somewhat, Haju spots the body of a relatively large half-bird, half-lizard creature. He draws it to the attention of the others. Jaxti comes over to look at it, seeing the creature to be about 1/2 an ad in length, and tells them that she remembers something along these lines from the history books [she used 2 Momentum and 1 Threat on the roll]; it’s called a Susu, but they’ve not been seen on Barsoom for some thousand ords. Haju determines it was killed by a three-pronged or -tined green Martian weapon (the injury is about 1/2 a sofad deep). While Kartos and Haju are looking at the body more closely, Jaxti notices movement nearby. When Haju asks, she didn’t see what it was, but it was fast and close to the ground. As they look around for the creatures, they finally spot a few. They’re small burrowing animals, and seem to be fleeing something. Raising his field glasses to look at the burrowing creatures, Kartos’s view is obscured by a massive, savage green eye! Lowering the field glasses, he sees a massive Banth charging towards him!
While Kartos takes on the Banth, Haju moves protectively towards Jaxti. Banths usually don’t attack on their own, and he’s proven right. Two more of the creatures leap from the sand they were using as a hiding spot, and charge towards Jaxti and Haju. Kartos, meanwhile, fights his banth and finds his abilities stretched to the limit. In a flurry of blows with the creature, he suffers several raking blows from the animals, but is finally able to kill it. Haju attacks the banth that is closing on him, and takes it down in one stroke of his blade, and then instantly deals death to the one that is moving towards Jaxti. [He uses 1 Momentum and the Cut Them Down Talent, spending the two Momentum.] [Narrator Note: I should mention here that I didn’t want the banth attack here to be too dangerous, and so used them as Minions rather than as Monsters. But the players didn’t know that until I told them after the fight.] The player characters leave the dead banths where they lie, the Barsoom desert and various predators will take care of their remains soon enough. And Kartos wants to get out of the area due to his concern there might be other banths in the area.
Kartos, Jaxti and Haju continue to head towards the ruins, though Jaxti is still concerned they cannot see the pillar. After a while, Kartos spots what appears to be a structure in the distance. Jaxti is concerned again, since this can’t be the ruins; they lie further ahead. As they move towards the structure, they come upon small, tri-toed prints on the hard ground. Kartos doesn’t know what animal might have made them, and this concerns him, but they they are very tiny. As they continue on, they discover the ground is littered with holes concealing burrows. Kartos gets his foot caught in one, and is nearly hurt. They finally see what has made these holes/burrows - creatures with round bodies, mostly legs, around two sofs tall at most that hop around on one foot. They call the creatures “rock hoppers”, and move cautiously through the area with the burrows, Kartos leading the way.
They eventually reach the structure, and Kartos studies it from a distance. The building is approximately 100 ads in size. Sections of the ruins are blown out, whereas other parts have massive holes that gape inward, most likely from the crushing impact with the ground or perhaps from the catastrophe that brought the ruins of Tharsis to the surface. Kartos says that he’ll scout around the building to determine its size and shape, also to see if there are lots of the rock hoppers around. Excitement on her face, Jaxti says that she’ll go inside the building to see what’s there, but Haju insists on taking the lead.
He enters the building, and there is a strange energy glow that Jaxti sees as he enters. Following him, Jaxti notices that the blown out section has no marks from weaponry, no scorch marks or blast/heat marks, and no residue. As she enters through the blown out hole, she senses a change in gravity that almost throws her somewhat, and then finds herself in the structure. The entire interior of the building is dark, though she can make out a pit of some sort by the light of Haju’s lumen. She lights a lumen of her own. Both Jaxti and Haju realize that the pit occupies most of the structure, the pit itself filled with vegetation and the typical moss of Barsoom’s swards. It is usually fed on by the small creatures known as Darseen [small lizards] - and sure enough, there are plenty of darseen to be found in the pit and around it. The ledge that surrounds the pit is a good 3 sofads wide, but seems quite treacherous and slippery in places due to the liquid, detritus, and guano found nearby. As the two characters watch, Jaxti’s curiosity and interest being significantly more piqued, several rock hoppers leap through the gap into the area of the pit and a proboscis-like needle lances the darseen and then reels it in.
Jaxti makes the attempt to move along the ledge, to search for the gravity device that she knows must be somewhere there. Haju tells her to wait, and ties some rope around her just in case. [This will give her a bonus d20 on any rolls that might be necessary.] She sees a glow from some sort of device further along the ledge, and cautiously moves along it, having some close moments a couple of times [but spending Momentum and some Threat to manage]. She eventually reaches the device, to see that it is a glowing box of some unknown metal with several knobs and buttons embedded into it, and several octopoidal-like plastic/wires extending from it. She uses her scientific knowledge and technical abilities to figure out how to a) turn the device off and b) remove it from the wall of the structure. [She spends 3 Momentum, and rolls 8 successes, and uses some of that Momentum to get three questions answered about the device and how to remove it.] With Haju’s assistance she carefully makes her way back to where they entered the ruined building. Just in time.
With an almost moaning sound, the ruins of the building start to collapse in on themself [as the anti-gravity field that was supporting them collapses]. Both Jaxti and Haju dive for the nearest blown out hole to escape the structure, the latter managing to get out relatively easily. However, just as Jaxti fears that she’s about to be trapped in the collapsed [almost irising] gap, she is grabbed by the arm and pulled out by Kartos! Just in time as the ruins start to disintegrate. Looking at each other, the three characters run, trying to put as much distance from the ruined building as possible! As the building collapses, rubble starts to fly through the air and the characters each successfully avoid injury.
Turning back, and out of breath, Kartos, Jaxti and Haju watch as the building collapses completely, clouds of dirt and dust jetting up into the sky and rubble continuing to be spewed out close to the structure. However, Jaxti is exuberant about having acquired the anti-gravity device, which she secures to her harness.
Sunday afternoon's game session of the John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game campaign went pretty well, I thought. I'm still ill with whatever I've got, and I'll admit that my head wasn't in the game for much of the session. The first 3/4 of an hour of the session really consisted of SteveR trying to come up with ideas of how to enter the ruins safely, with Tammy (whose character was otherwise engaged) giving him hints and advice until I snapped at her to knock it off. After that, the rest of the game session was an entertaining one with some beasties and some natural hazards. Both players told me they'd had a good time, Tammy being especially pleased at her character's "reward". I made a couple of mistakes in the session, but nothing I regret as some of the rules got a bit...tangled up in my head. :)
Overall, this was a pretty good session of the Sunday John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game campaign. There's still another session of this scenario to go, I think, so we'll see what happens next time we game. Tammy is back on-call for the next two weeks, and we're not sure what September has to offer as yet, but regardless, I'm looking for the next gaming session.