With the missing player from our original gaming group -- my brother, Chris -- now scheduled to rejoin the campaign via Google Hangouts, the last few sessions of Rifts have involved almost as much planning as actual play, as we figure out how to get his character, the psi-stalker Katrina Mansfield (pictured here), back in the mix. We still managed to get into character and play a little bit. Check out the recap of last session if you need to.
The Roster (with Fate "high concept" aspects, followed by traditional Rifts O.C.C.s)
Arisis Solstice, Radiant Daughter of Atlas (female titan Cyber-Knight), played by Felix
Max Parkinson, Runaway Teenage Mystic (male human Mystic), played by me
Valerie Cain, Amazon Cyborg Wildchild (female Praxian Headhunter), played by Kent
Arisis, Max, and Valerie have successfully defended the people of Red Moon Water Village from several waves of vicious attacks, finally driving them off with the assistance of troops from the city of Havana. Osorio, the villagers' shaman (and now leader) advises our heroes to visit three other settlements on the island of Cuba as they continue their search for the elusive neuron beast, both to rest and to ensure that they have not suffered the fate intended for Red Moon Water Village.
Unfortunately, while they manage to complete the journey to the next village without significant incident, the group find it completely annihilated: burnt to the ground, with no survivors. Max surveys the carnage and wishes aloud that he was able to use his magic to restore the victims of the massacre to life. (This is something his teammates have witnessed firsthand in the past, but of which he is currently incapable, having "burned out" his ability to do so for the time being). Instead, Max supernaturally melds into his charnel surroundings in order to commune with the slain. The young Mystic fades into the ashes, asking the spirits of the villagers to explain what happened to them: "Tell me how you died." He effortlessly overcomes an astral servitor of the neuron beast that tries to interpose itself, and learns that the beast's armed forces destroyed the village and its people in retaliation for their defeat at Red Moon Water Village, then marched to another settlement that Osorio had mentioned, two days' travel away. The neuron beast's spirit minion takes physical shape and is instantly reduced to dust as Max returns to corporeal form.
Our heroes resolve not to allow another such slaughter to occur, and set out for the second village with haste: the Mystic uses the adaptive systems of his techno-wizard-constructed armor to maneuver through the canopy jungle, with the Cyber-Knight hurling the armored Max ahead ("fastball special" style) and cutting a path through the underbrush for the Headhunter to follow on her mecha-motorcycle. Along the way, Max and Arisis realize that their psychic sensitivity allows them to "pick up" communications between multiple beings that are apparently sharing information on the groups' activities. It does not take long to realize that they are inadvertently eavesdropping on the psychic network of several neuron beasts, considering that they refer to each other as "Neuron Beast Zaal", "Neuron Beast Tobril", etc. (apparently through a quirk of their mental "language").
The trio arrive at the settlement in one day rather than two, catching the neuron beasts' forces completely by surprise. The enemy, who were preoccupied with rounding up villagers and putting them in chains rather than preparing for an assault, are never able to organize an effective defense. Max disperses a unit of gunmen with a Fear spell and sets a "neuron thrall" (another of the human-neuron beast hybrids they've faced in the past) ablaze with a well-placed Fire Bolt. Valerie rips into a group of lizard men armed with melee weapons with a barrage of mini-missiles, and their leader, a lizard woman psychic, literally turns tail and runs. Arisis squares off with a cybernetically enhanced troll after her attempt to invoke her supernatural aura of awe is ineffective ("Trollborg does not understand human emotions", her opponent helpfully explains), but struggles to cause any lasting physical harm to the cyborg. Max opts to trade foes with Arisis, shutting down the troll's central nervous system via psionic Bio-Manipulation before things get out of hand, and Arisis overpowers the Gigantes (mutant giant) that had threatened Max. Valerie removes the threat posed by a walker mecha by nonchalantly decapitating the gunner perched atop it, sending his head tumbling into the cockpit below and terrifying the war machine's pilot.
The mecha pilot and Gigantes quickly surrender as the few remaining allies that have survived the trio's surprise attack disperse into the jungle. The team radios the Havanan forces they left behind at Red Moon Water Village and asks them to send a contingent to take care of the enemy captives. As Valerie severs the oversized bionic arms of the immobilized Trollborg with the CADS-1 blades of her mecha, Arisis and Max question the captured walker pilot. "Neuron Beast Zaal", they learn, is in charge, and has taken at least one of Nysa's twin sisters to Isla de la Juventud, to the south, where there is apparently some sort of prison facility in which she is incarcerated. The pilot also tells them that the third village Osorio asked them to visit is the domain of a bruja ("witch") and that Zaal's men take care to avoid it.
The pilot's tale turns out to be true -- when the group reach the third village, they find themselves unwelcome, and have little choice but to strike down the bruja and her harpy pets (a task which they complete without much difficulty). With the last village out of the way, the group head toward a pirate-run coastal town they have heard lies to the south, in the hopes of securing passage to Isla de la Juventud.
(If you're wondering, yes, that is another piece of commissioned artwork up there. This one is courtesy the illustrious Azu-Chan. I love it, and I imagine it's about as far from how the creator of Rifts imagines a typical character should be depicted as possible.)
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