Here's the write-up for the Friday night gaming group's second session of "Spores". You can read the previous session's notes at the link.
The Spores of Death
John M. Kahane
Realising she's got nowhere to run and is outnumbered, Kelasa decides to take a gamble and she fires her pistol, hitting the ground in front of the lead villagers. They stop their attack, intimidated by the gun, and ask who she is and what she wants. Kelasa learns that the haggard villagers are actually farmers and gardeners from the area who have fallen on hard times. They were hired by someone they won't identify who works for a botanical company, and are pledged not to let anyone near the new greenhouses that the company has built in the area. Kelasa is able to cajole their leader, Hank Newirth, into taking her to see the greenhouses.
Edward Blake is concerned about Kelasa, but Hannah Wilerton says that she's sure the young woman can take care of herself. Wilerton tells him that she overheard some talk in the village earlier in the morning. There are rumours that a corporation is going to take over the operation of Manderley Gardens, and the villagers are concerned about their livelihood and their welfare. The two decide to go over to the pub once more and talk to the locals again. Aaron Hales tells them that he's heard talk of this as well. He figures that it can only affect him positively, as even the corporate types will need somewhere to eat and drink a pint. He tells Edward that the woman he spoke to the evening before, Annabelle Tempest, works for the company whose name is BotOrganics. Somewhat surprised, Edward asks Hales what he can tell him of the Manderleys and the Gardens. He learns a bit of information about them, but is told that to be honest, the villagers resent the UNIT personnel's presence. Sure, they're concerned about the disappearances, but truth be told, it's attracted even more tourists to Havendale.
David Anderson III is walking through the village when he is approached by a couple of young, attractive women in village garb. They introduce themselves as Edina and Sandra, and tell him that they need him to come with them, they have something to show him, as something "bad has happened" in the village. Anderson is bemused by this, but decides to humour the women. The two lead him to the mill at the edge of town.
Thomas Magnuson and Megs return to the Cock and Crow, and meet up with Edward and Hannah Wilerton. Magnuson tells them that he found out a bit more about the village and Manderley Gardens, and proceeds to tell them what he knows. Megs is a bit put out to learn that she's been doing recon with him, but he assures her that it's more than that. When asked, Megs tells the player characters that the Manderleys are not inclined to sell to BotOrganics, at least from what she has overheard in the pub. The villagers are pretty much divided on the matter. Gayle Tarrant joins the characters at the pub, having not found them back at the UNIT temporary HQ. She tells them of what she learned about BotOrganics, and about Derek Walsh, the gardener. Megs says that he was a highly respected gardener in Havendale, and a true horticulturist.
Meanwhile, a somewhat tired Kelasa Vostune has been led by Hank Newirth and the other villagers to what appears to be an ultra-modern greenhouse. The symbol of BotOrganics, a leafy plant and stem with the BO logo merged into it, is clear on the outside. As are the three security guards. Kelasa tries to gain access to the greenhouse, to speak to someone in charge, but the guards refuse to allow her into the structure or anywhere near it for that matter. As she tries to get a glimpse of what's inside the greenhouse, she sees a shadowy figure, seemingly a plant, moving inside the structure! Kelasa tells Hank and his people that she's got to get back to Havendale and tell her UNIT friends what she has seen, and while Hank is reluctant to let her go (she's the first person that these villagers have had contact with in some time), he says that he and his people will be their eyes and ears.
Anderson notices that the mill is quiet, the water wheel and other devices not moving. He tells the two women to wait outside for him, and enters the mill to investigate further. There are signs that the mill has been attacked though there is no obvious (to him) physical damage, and he finds the body of the miller and two of his apprentices on the ground - seemingly dead, but covered in a strange fungal material. There is a sweet odour in the air that he can't quite place, but he's resolute enough that he manages to exit the mill. He learns from Sandra that the miller, Harry, has a wife, decides that discretion is the better part and all. He radios back to the temporary HQ, and they get in touch with Edward Blake.
Back at the pub, several of the villagers are talking to the player characters when there is a disturbance. Three individuals wearing outlandish (touristy) clothes approach the UNIT personnel and demand to know who is in charge. Blake says that he is, and they introduce themselves as the Hengists. They've been in the village for a couple of days, and took the tour of Manderley Gardens the day before. They demand that Blake and his people investigate the disappearance of their daughter, Anna. They say that Anna disappeared the day before yesterday while on the tour, and that the village authorities have done very little to find their daughter (in their estimation). Edward Blake tells them that he will look into it, and decides to go in search of the local sheriff, leaving Hannah and the others to get more information out of the Hengists. They are interrupted by the call from David Anderson III, and the UNIT personnel leave the pub, followed by several of the villagers. Gayle expresses concern over the fact that they have not heard from Kelasa.
Kelasa continues her trip back to the village proper, but decides to stop at the "abandoned" shack once more, as something there wasn't right. As she looks around and checks things out again, she comes upon what appear to be several small mounds that barely conceal two bodies. On closer inspection, the two bodies can be seen to be in a state of decomposition... but there is a thick fungus on the rotting limbs that are visible that seems unusual. Using her technical skills, Kelasa cautiously takes a sample of the fungus in a small tube... Concentrating on her work to get the fungus into the tube, she fails to see the figure that is approaching her from behind...
Blake and his people make their way to the outskirts of the village, where they find Anderson and the two young women keeping an eye on things. Anderson comments to Blake that he doesn't know what happened inside, but that something bad is going on. Blake asks the villagers to remain outside, and he and the UNIT personnel minus Kelasa go into the mill. The eerie stillness and quiet in the mill spooks the characters somewhat as Anderson leads them back to where he found the miller and his two apprentices. The bodies aren't there, just some organic material, and Anderson can't understand what's going on. Blake orders the group to an alert status, while Wilerton examines the organic residue that is on the ground. As the characters look around, three vaguely half-human, half-plant creatures shamble out of the shadows towards them...
TO BE CONTINUED
For me, this was probably the first session that I was somewhat dissatisfied with. The game session was very much a talky game session, with little in the way of combat of any type. In a couple of cases, the player for Kelasa used Story Points to turn confrontations in her favour somewhat, the intimidating of the gardeners at the beginning with her gun shot being a good example of this.
The business at the mill has a half-complete feel to it, and I'm still not happy all that much with that series of events. The two women leading Anderson to the mill in the first place doesn't feel right to me, even if I knew what's going on with them (as you will find out in Episode Three), but to be honest, it seemed to lack...something.
The creatures of this piece, the Dionae (their write-up is in the Creatures section of the DW: AiTaS forums, but I can post them here for anyone who wants to see them) are being downplayed very much in the scenario, because they are so tough to deal with. However, that's coming - trust me on this!
The village/town constabulary have been conspicuously absent in these write-ups you'll have noticed; the players haven't really involved themselves with the constabulary, primarily because they have left the business to the UNIT personnel and because the sheriff and his men are few to begin with.
However, overall I was quite pleased with the whole scenario, and the way it's developed to this point. Anyone have thoughts or comments on stuff so far?
The players were quite happy with their efforts in this game session, and are rather enjoying the DW: AiTaS game and the way the mechanics work and how the game plays. Kathy told me that she finds the system much easier to play compared to the Ubiquity system so far, although she said that the game is obviously in its infancy in terms of some of the Traits and the like one can take, and looks forward to the game's evolution and development. Joanne is having the time of her life, and being relatively new to Doctor Who as a series, she's rather enjoying the game and the DVDs that they've been seeing after sessions. Speaking of which, the group watched the third and fourth parts of Robot, the first Tom Baker story, and are having fun doing these late-night Doctor Who thons.