March 15th, 2150 AD
...but realize that they don't want to expose themselves to the IAN vessel, let alone make it swing back towards the butte, which is somewhat obscured by the plumes of smoke from the wreckage of the Daedalus. The player characters reach a consensus on what they want to do. Emma Whitlocke moves off stealthily in the direction of the funhouse. Aaron Cheetah checks the area out, and spots some shadowy figures. When he tells the others, Finnius Cloudbody heads off and sneaks up on Emma. The two of them talk for a few minutes, and she learns from him what Aaron saw. They are interrupted as Volstad, Carnack, and Sarah emerge from their hiding spot.
The three introduce themselves to the characters (who fail to do the same, with the exception of Green Harry and Aaron), and tell them that they are salvagers from the Blackwind, and are there for the dolls as well. The two groups mutually agree on how things will be handled - the player characters can take the dolls that they are there to find, while the Blackwind crew will take the rest of the booty. Volstad and Finnius agrees that the Blackwind crew will take the player characters to the dolls that they're looking for. The Blackwind crew members tell the player characters that the funhouse ruins are dangerous, as there are at least two lions present. The characters travel with the Blackwind trio, and move towards the funhouse, arriving at the eastern edge near one of the large, gaping holes that have been torn in the wall of the funhouse. They encounter several of the other Blackwind salvagers, Falk, Tarana, and Gamorl. They reach the entrance to the funhouse, and meet with Randy, a trader, and Ashe. Volstad asks Ashe if the others are all right, and is told that they're on their way.
The two groups of characters go through the entrance into the funhouse, and find themselves in a reception area of sorts. There are the remains of a large reception area, with lots of plastic, ceramics, and other materials, as well as two small cloakrooms. The chamber is full of rubbish and trash, and doors lead off to the north, east, and west. Ashe mentions that they managed to kill the male lion that was hunting them, but its female mate is still loose, so they should be careful. Randy finds some tracks, that they think might be the lion's mate. Emma looks around, but all she sees are plentiful sets of human tracks, presumably those belonging to the Blackwind crew members.
Volstad and his people lead Finnius and his companions through the north door, and they emerge into a large hall filled with clown statues of giants some 10 to 12 feet tall. It is a rectangular hall with only one other door at the north end. The clown statues are dressed in the most outlandish colour schemes with noses, overly long shoes, and clown make-up and clothes (much of which is faded). Emma goes over to one of the clown statues and raps on it, and discovers that it is made of ceramic material. Aaron, the Neobedouin, appreciates the designers' flair for colours, but his admiration is somewhat muted when the group senses and then spots shadowy movement across the top of the clown heads. The creatures are howlers, a seeming amalgamation of hyaena, large cat of some sort, and monkey. Swooping down, one of the creatures grabs the lantern out of Aaron's hand as he raises it to get a better look at the creature(s), and then flees back up to the top of the clown heads, and moves off, the light source eventually disappearing into a part of the ceiling.
Following the cautiously moving Volstad and the pirates of the Blackwind, the player characters move through the door at the north end, and enter a maze of mirrors. Green Harry is surprised to see his appearance in a mirror, as his skin is a regular pink hue! While the floors of the chamber are clean, there are cobwebs high above the many 15-feet high mirrors that are augmented with with technology enhancements that allow for skin colour changes and tactile sensations. Many of the mirrors in this room are cracked and not functioning, but enough of them remain that Tarana advises them it will be difficult to traverse the room to the western entrance. While the characters try to negotiate the room, seeing themselves in the mirror images all around them, they see a small room cleaning 'bot in the shape of a brush. There are two exits from the room, one to the north and the other due west.
The door that they pass through leads the characters into what appears to be large art gallery that has seen better days. The paintings and other forms of artwork found here are all varied, in different conditions ranging from mouldering and musty to relatively intact, and covering a wide range of subjects. The player characters pretty much ignore the artwork, and move on, although Finnius fashions a torch out of a tattered painting and a fractured piece of an old, wooden bench. He fails to do any real assessment of the artwork before the Blackwind pirates and his own crew move off through the north door.
The characters go through the door, and find themselves in a doll house. The room consists of lots of dirt and dust, but is full of various types of display cases and actual dollhouses, filled with close to 100 Barbie dolls in various states of dress and undress. There are also three dolls that appear to be like Raggedy Ann mixed with CPR dummies, and these are spotted by an alert Harry. When the dolls are lifted or touched, the heat and/or pressure exerted on them activates them, and they spout various medical instructions and simple techniques. The player characters debate what dolls to take, and how many of them to take. While they talk in the room, Emma learns from Sarah that the Blackwind crew have been contracted to find mannequins, not dolls. Conversation also reveals that the captain of the Blackwind and her crew are also in league with the Cloudbear tribe. Before the characters leave the room via the door to the west, Finnius takes six (6) of the Barbie dolls, and packs them in his sack.
The characters try the doorway that leads to the northwest, and approach the door cautiously. Despite his physical prowess, Green Harry has trouble opening the door, and has to put some muscle into it, as the door is made of 2-inch solid wood. The entry leads into a large...birdcage. As he opens the door, Harry looks up and sees huge, offset eyes of an inhuman nature and a large, yellow and green beak. He slams the door shut, instead of trying to use his axe on the creature, but it almost cracks the door in two. Finnius advocates firing their guns through the door, and killing the beast, but Aaron and Harry manage to drag a heavy display case of Barbies over. However, Emma hears that the bird or whatever it was has left the area of the door on the far side.
The player characters go straight through the door on the north wall, and find themselves in a chamber filled with a variety of mannequins. They find nothing of value or importance here, although they recognise that it may well be the chamber that the party from the Blackwind are seeking out. They open the door on the north wall, and find themselves in a room with a chequerboard pattern of light and dark squares with strange pieces on it. A "border" area surrounds the pattern of squares, and on the west wall can be seen a door. Harry steps onto one of the surfaces of the squares, and finds himself transported to another position, and he is totally paralysed. Finnius does likewise, and finds himself "moved" to another position on the board, and also trapped. The two are forced to play the game, the rules of which they each seem to suddenly know, and find themselves in a lethal game of Emperors. The other player characters watch in horror, and see what appears to be the Blackwind man, Ashe, as one of the white pieces. Finnius and Harry manage to win the game, and the board resets to a brand new match, but there is no trace of Ashe.
After the characters recover somewhat, they move along to the west wall and open the door they find there. It leads into what appears to be a storeroom with wooden and plastic crates and boxes that appear to be in various sizes. Harry refuses to go into the room at first, as he is still dealing with his feelings of helplessness and loss of control from his experience in the game room. Entering the room, the characters find the dead body of an IAN officer, as well as the unconscious body of Ashe. Emma looks in one of the wooden crates, and finds what appear to be pieces for the various Emperor game units, and Aaron finds the same thing in several of the boxes that are lying around. The characters also manage to wake Ashe, Aaron slapping him across the face to bring him around. Ashe reacts violently, and nearly strangles Aaron, but he eventually is brought back to his senses. Talking to Ashe, they learn he doesn't know anything about the IAN fellow. Examining the IAN officer, they find he has nothing of value on him, and that his gun holster is empty. Ashe leaves the player characters to go find his people and warn them of what has occurred, but says that he owes them his life.
Taking the only exit out of the chamber, the characters find themselves in what appears to be a large workshop cluttered with various tools, tables, body and inner working parts, and other mysterious apparatus. It appears to be an automaton workshop, as the characters find the skinned Doll, and what appears to be the body of an inert Peeler. In a fit of rage, Harry takes apart the body of the the Peeler using a pair of bolt cutters. He chops off the head and almost takes it with him, but the dripping fluid changes his mind, and he tosses the Peeler head into a corner of the room.
The only door out of the chamber is on the west wall, and leads the characters into what appears to be a laboratory. There are lots of mannequins here, around forty or so, but a close look by Aaron reveals that two of the mannequins have more in common with Automata than actual mannequins. The characters notice the two automata/mannequins don't have keys, although there are slots that consist of a long line with a small cut across it, like a slightly elongated cross. The characters search the cluttered lab for the keys, but it is Aaron who finally comes across the key in one of the stacks - in the clawed hands of a howler! Harry tempts the howler with the relatively fresh meat that he has in his pack, while Finnius attempts the same with his rations. The howler, a young one, goes for Harry's fresh meat, and Harry manages to grab the creature, but Finnius decides to grab it as well, and the Howler...howls! Harry is forced to choke the Howler to death, despite the fact that he is in serious pain and his ears are bleeding out from taking the sonic attack at point blank range. The Howler's parents descend from the ceiling, and the player characters are forced to defend themselves with their guns. The Howler's male parent is rendered unconscious, but the female parent is killed outright as Emma and then Aaron fire at it, the latter delivering the killing shot.
In a lot of ways, I wasn't feeling all that great after this session of the Airship Pirates game came to an end. Part of it was that my back was really hurting me badly and I had taken some Robaxacet, which has the habit of spacing me out a little bit. For that reason, the game session wasn't a... sane ...one from my GMing perspective. The interior of the funhouse comes across more as a D&D type of place, and we won't even talk about the chess-like game and board. There was a lot of interesting stuff in the funhouse, though, and if I ever turn this scenario into a bit of a convention adventure, the funhouse will be a bit more defined and made consistent. That said, the session was pretty good for the most part, at least the bits that I remember of it through the drug daze of the Robaxacet, but don't get me wrong, it wasn't a great session for a variety of reasons that I won't go into here. Some of the players weren't all that happy with the session, notably Doug, who was annoyed at the inability of his character to control his actions during the chess sequence.
Anyway, 'nuff said about this particular game session.