Friday, May 9, 2014

I Got One More Silver Dollar

I'm going to take at least a month off from posting here at Dungeonskull Mountain. 

For one thing, I'm going to be out of the country for a few weeks. Plus, I'm not currently running anything, and situations beyond my group's control continue to force us to play Rifts less often than we'd like.

All of the above is a long-winded way of saying that I've got plenty of enthusiasm for RPGs, but little of substance to say about them for the time being. It makes more sense for me to take a break than to force myself to make a bunch of vapid posts. I'll be back, but until then, take care and thanks for reading.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Rifts Misadventures: Session 2

p31 by HBDesign
My friends and I managed to play some Rifts this past weekend, after a long series of unfortunate (and unforeseeable) delays. It's been a while, so you may wish to refresh your memory before reading onward.

The Roster

Arisis Solstice, female titan Cyber-Knight, played by Felix

Max Parkinson, male human Mystic, played by me

Valerie Cain, female Praxian Headhunter, played by Kent

Session Recap

We rejoin Arisis, Max, and Valerie at the plantation-style estate of Nysa, their new benefactor. Having accepted the mission that she had offered them, our heroes set about collecting information. First, Max (somewhat surreptitiously) uses his Read Aura psionic ability on Nysa, in an attempt to ascertain her true nature. He learns little of import that he didn't already know. As he was already aware, Nysa is of a magical or supernatural nature, but he now senses that she possesses psychic abilities and is of a medium level of experience. When the statuesque beauty briefly steps away to oversee the arrival of a captured surviving monster from the attack earlier in the day (and the carcasses of those the trio slew earlier), Max informs his compatriots that he has "checked her out," which earns him a good-natured ribbing from Val ("yeah, we noticed!"). Somewhat embarrassed by how obvious his interest in Nysa now is, Max drops the subject.

Nysa returns, and Max asks her to provide him with an object that would have been handled by both of her kidnapped sisters (whose names, the group now learns, are Asha and Annejah). She guesses at Max's purpose immediately, and seems somewhat surprised that Max has psychometric abilities. Max informs her that all Mystics possess this talent, to which Nysa responds that she, too, is a Mystic, leaving the young man monetarily at a loss for words. Nysa suggests that they adjourn to her séance room, which is decorated with artwork and motifs Arisis recognizes as akin to those of both ancient Greece and Armenia. Nysa provides Max with a hat that both twins had been known to wear, but Max's attempt to use his Object Read ability yields only images of the pair having an argument over the hat at some point in the past. Even with his fellow psychics, Nysa and Arisis, boosting his powers by linking hands, Max is unable to learn anything of Asha and Anneja's current status or whereabouts.

The trio move on to interviewing one of the mutant animals that survived the monster attack on Nysa's refugee transport, an uplifted "mutt" Dog Boy called Toby. Toby, obviously shaken by his experience, informs them that he was created in the Coalition State of Lone Star only a few years ago. He served a master he calls "Dr. Stakes", who masterminded an illegal trade in sapient animals, selling them as food to cannibalistic D-Bees. Toby, who was created specifically to aid in this trafficking, eventually grew disgusted with Stakes' deeds. Nysa's organization secretly reached out to Toby, and soon he was helping to operate her "underground railroad" for Lone Star mutants. He tells the group that ships from Lone Star carrying refugees generally rendezvous with Nysa's ship, the Sunstar Aegis, in the Gulf of Mexico, where the mutants then travel to Serendipity, where they are resettled. But their last meeting went terribly wrong -- they were attacked by a pirate ship, the Grey Bones, crewed by ogres and assisted by a Coalition helicopter. Toby recognized that the chopper was piloted by one Lt. Reginald, a Coalition Psi-Stalker loyal to Dr. Stakes. The Dog Boy and a few other mutants managed to escape, but Nysa's sisters were not so fortunate. Toby and Nysa explain that they believe the Grey Bones is based somewhere in the Caribbean, and that they have likely managed to capture both the Sunstar Aegis and the twins. Toby urges, "If you find Dr. Stakes... kill him. Kill him." Arisis seems ready to ride straight to Lone Star and fulfill Toby's wish, but Nysa and the others manage to talk her down. The decision is made that the group will sail for the Caribbean.

Now more determined than ever to yield something of use with his mystical abilities, Max suggests returning to the site where he, Valerie, and Arisis earlier tussled with the bizarre-looking monsters. He retrieves his suit of crystalline power armor, a rare artifact of techno-wizardry, from the group's quarters and uses its helmet's magical Eyes of the Wolf ability to track the creatures. He is able to find their tracks with ease, thanks to the armor, but after following them through dense forest for some time, the group elects to return to Nysa's estate rather than waste additional time. There, Nysa informs Arisis, Valerie, and Max that her scientists have dissected the dead creatures and determined that they had cybernetic enhancements, and were most likely chimeric, gene-grafted mutants illegally created in Lone Star.

The crew then hits the streets of Serendipity to find a likely vessel on which they can book passage to the Caribbean, with the relatively nearby port of Havana in mind as the most logical starting point. (Here, our GM, Kent, decided to try a Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition-style "skill challenge" to represent our search.) First, a Streetwise roll from Max leads them to a contact that only spoke Spanish. Val, who had the best handle on Spanish, learns that the person to talk to about quietly getting aboard a vessel is an individual named Novenious, a member of a D-Bee race called the Badril (whose features were generated on the spot with my handy dandy d30 Rifts Mutations table). None of the group are familiar with what the Badril are like, but it turns out that they only communicate by singing in the Dragonese language. Luckily, Max is both fluent in Dragonese and an accomplished singer, so Novenious tells him the name of a man who could help. That man turns out to be having a problem with a rambunctious cyber-horse, which Arisis is able to wrangle with her Horsemanship: Exotic skill. The horse's superstitious owner seems reluctant to discuss anything with Arisis, however (due to a failed Lore: Astronomy roll on her player's part), but a subtly intimidating lecture from Max on the history and proper use of blunt instruments (a WP Blunt "weapon quality" roll) convinces him to direct them to a certain Huey Ramos.

Captain Ramos turns out to be a remarkably reasonable man. Although he is not open to Max's request that the group simply book passage on his cruiser, the Fantasma, Ramos negotiates a deal in which he will pay them to help crew and defend the ship on his multi-stop trade run throughout the Caribbean, with bonus pay for each port they reach and a proviso that allows the group to terminate employment at any point if they can provide replacement crew members. With this agreement in place, the group retrieves their gear from Nysa's storage, then sets sail for the Caribbean the following morning. Nysa meets them at the docks to wish them luck, and accepts Max's request for a long talk -- alone -- when he and his companions return triumphant.

No combat, tons of in-character interaction, and investigation made for a really fun session that went from somber (failed psychic power use, Toby's interview) to madcap (the wacky "pounding the pavement" skill challenge). We're hoping to play again in a couple of weeks, so with luck, the next update will come much more quickly than this one did.