Friday, April 24, 2015

Rifts Misadventures: Session 13

Kat Attack by K-Bonifield
I got to play an extra-long session of Rifts as a belated birthday celebration, so I got my wish. Previous session recap is here.

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
Katrina Mansfield, Mutant Psi-Stalker P.I. (female mutoid Psi-Stalker), played by Chris
Max Parkinson, Runaway Teenage Mystic (male human Mystic), played by me
Valerie Cain, Amazon Cyborg Wildchild (female Praxian Headhunter), played by Kent

Session Recap
After a dimensional storm at sea, our heroes have been thrown far off course, and now find themselves approaching the Yucatán peninsula. Once they recognize their location, they attempt to correct course and head north to Serendipity, where their benefactor, the enigmatic Nysa, awaits the return of her kidnapped twin sisters. However, soon after they set out, a thick, grey mist envelops the Sunstar Aegis, making navigation impossible. The group are forced to turn back, and reluctantly make port at a small fishing village.

The locals welcome the party to their town, which they apparently call Belize. Their shaman explains that the mist the group encountered is an "astral fog" that shrouds the sea and sky around the region, and is virtually impossible to navigate -- those that try soon find themselves in the astral plane itself. The shaman encourages them to seek out a Shifter named Erik, who is part of the Range Knight Irregulars (RKI), a local paramilitary group located outside of the village, for assistance in leaving the area. He explains that these soldiers are affiliated with the vampire-hunting mercenary team called Reid's Rangers (an organization that Valerie and Max fought alongside early in their careers). Max and Arisis object to the idea of leaving Asha and Annejah behind with the Sunstar Aegis, but acquiesce when the twins insist that they can take care of themselves. True to form, Arisis and Kat leave behind robot drones to "look after them", which prompts a few choice verbal barbs from Max.

The Range Knight Irregulars have a sizable encampment set up around an abandoned airfield. When our heroes arrive, they are greeted warmly by a Cyber-Knight who introduces himself as Sir Edward the Brave, accompanied by a serpentine D-Bee in power armor. Arisis and Sir Edward, both members of the same order, exchange niceties briefly, then Max inquires about the Shifter they were told could help them.

Sir Edward informs the group that he and his men originally came to the area in an attempt to eliminate a minor vampire intelligence, but failed in that mission and suffered great losses. The serpentine D-Bee, whose name they soon learn is Zerdul, is one of a race called the Vernulians, who are engaged in a civil war that has spread from their home dimension to Rifts Earth. The two groups -- vampire hunters and Vernulian resistance fighters -- have joined forces (and causes) to survive. One of their units is currently pinned down in the jungles by Vernulian loyalists, and Erik, the Shifter the group seeks, is among them. Our heroes decide to lead a rescue mission. Zerdul volunteers to accompany them, and Sir Edward sends along a mutant water opossum named Luz to serve as a jungle guide.

Luz leads the group to a tiny settlement deep in the Yucatán jungle. The dead bodies of humans and Vernulians are strewn about, and other than a central armored bunker, its structures have largely been laid to waste by Vernulian loyalists in power armor, who still control the area. Kat, Max, and Valerie sneak up on three of the worm-like enemy and quickly incapacitate them, with Max stunning one with his psionic powers, then using his armor's supernatural strength to send its paralyzed body crashing into one of its allies. Arisis, never much one for stealth, charges in with psi-sword blazing. The Irregulars that were taking refuge inside the bunker -- a female spellcaster, a man in black tactical gear, and a feather-haired, fire-breathing young woman -- soon emerge and join in the fight. With their assistance, our heroes are victorious, though Max receives a minor injury.

It turns out that two of the warriors that helped win the fight are not strangers to the group. As the haze of battle clears, the feather-haired woman recognizes Arisis and, shapeshifting into a feathered serpent, happily embraces the Titan. Arisis introduces Etza, a kukulcan dragon that was raised alongside her as a childhood companion, to her compatriots. As Arisis and Etza get reacquainted, the black-clad man unmasks and reveals himself to be Black Puma, a super-powered hero from another dimension who fought alongside our heroes in the struggle against the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. However, these joyful reunions are somewhat dampened by the task ahead: cleaning up the carnage that was once a village.

Max takes his leave from this grim work to speak with Erik, who is injured and recuperating inside the bunker. He is surprised to find the female spellcaster that assisted he and his friends earlier tending to a large, snake-scaled egg. Ignoring that detail for the moment, Max tends to Erik's wounds as best he can with some minor healing magic, and then asks for the Shifter's aid in navigating back to Serendipity. Erik informs Max that his unit was attempting to combat the predations of a trio of spider-demons, sisters called the Deathweavers, who hoard and feed on magic. The demons, he says, have seized three ancient Mayan pyramids and the ley line nexus points atop which they were constructed. The leader of their unit, a man named Madero, is being held captive in one of the pyramids, but Erik and his associates are unsure which. Upon hearing this, Arisis suggests that they begin planning (yet another) rescue. Erik thanks the group, and recommends that they set out the following morning.

Our heroes spend the evening hours tending to the wounded and catching up with their friends. Max quietly returns to the bunker to investigate the egg he saw inside. From the spellcaster, who he discovers is a priestess, Max learns that the egg holds the hibernating form of the village's snake-god. The priestess suggests that the Vernulian aggressors may have somehow been aware that the god was slumbering, and took advantage of that fact when they attacked. The young Mystic is both fascinated and discomfited by the apparent existence of divine beings, and yearns to find out more, but ultimately leaves with more questions than answers (as well as inklings of the exact nature of the mysterious Nysa, who has so captivated his interest).

Accompanied by Erik, Etza, Luz, and Black Puma, our heroes makes their way toward the Deathweavers' pyramids. As they near their destination, Black Puma lets out a roar, summoning the RKI operatives that have been watching the ruins: a group of werejaguars and a mutant bat. They provide valuable intelligence, indicating that Madero is being held in the pyramid of Becán, and reveal that the Deathweaver sisters are able to teleport from nexus point to nexus point, making it difficult to anticipate their locations. They also help Kat to direct her feline drone into the Becán complex itself. The drone is able to bypass the pyramid's magical defenses (which Arisis and Max identify as circles used to summon djinn), penetrate deep into its labyrinthine tunnels, and broadcast the location of Madero, who has been badly beaten, back to the group. Our heroes confer on the best course of action. Max initially wonders if he might be able turn the djinn against their masters, but soon suggests a different plan of attack: he and his friends will initiate a frontal assault on one of the other pyramids, drawing the demons away from Becán. Then, after the Deathweavers are distracted, Black Puma and his compatriots will rescue Madero.

Our heroes travel to the next closest pyramid, the ruins of Chicanná. Arisis again forgoes any attempt at subtlety; she loudly challenges the demon to face her in combat. The response is a huge swarm of insects that burst forth from inside the pyramid, harrying our heroes and making it difficult for them to proceed. Nevertheless, Kat, Valerie and Max race up the pyramid's steps, as Arisis shouts that she and her companions slew the Horseman Pestilence himself in Africa. They are met at the mouth of the temple entrance by a pair of Psi-Stalkers loyal to the spiders, but they are dealt with soon enough. The group quickly make their way to the pyramid's central chamber, where the Deathweaver demon awaits them. It summons an earth elemental, but Kat slides past it, viciously wounding it with her rune no-dachi. As the demon shrieks in shock and pain, Max blasts it with a bolt of lightning from his magical power armor, slaying it. The earth elemental, having received no orders, silently trudges off into the jungle.

The nexus point in the central chamber of Chicanná erupts with magical energy, and the remaining two Deathweavers, screeching in rage, emerge from the rift, accompanied by a trio of Psi-Stalkers and a Thunder Lizard dragon. Kat engages with one of the Psi-Stalkers, who seems to be an even match for her fighting prowess, and Max casts a shrinking spell, hoping to avoid the attention of the enemy as he moves toward the dragon. Arisis immediately locks up with one of the spider-demons and kills it with a single blow, a display of raw power that prompts the remaining Deathweaver to turn invisible. (Unfortunately for it, only one of heroes, Valerie, lacks the ability to see the invisible.) The Thunder Lizard casts a lightning spell, but it has little effect, and as the beast opens its mouth, the now-tiny Max flies into it and inside the dragon.

A radio message from Black Puma informs the group that the Irregulars have successfully reached the captive Madero. Arisis grapples with a Psi-Stalker, pinning him, and Valerie launches mini-missiles from the chest pods of her Cyclone power armor at the ceiling of the pyramid, blasting a large hole into it. The Headhunter radios back to Becán and tells the kukulcan, Etza, that a door is now open. Sensing that the tide of battle is turning against it, the remaining (invisble) Deathweaver springs into the nexus rift and flees the scene. The Thunder Lizard is evidently determined to make a last stand, however, and casts a spell to animate the skeletons that are strewn about the chamber.

Max enacts his strange plan, casting a Giant spell, hoping to destroy the dragon from within. However, the Thunder Lizard, like most of its kind, is a natural shapeshifter, and it swells along with Max, spitting out the now sixteen-foot-tall Mystic and commanding its newly animated minions to attack. Sadly for the dragon, as a Titan, Arisis has the ability to turn the undead, and destroys the skeletons with ease.

Meanwhile, Kat and Valerie dispatch the remaining Psi-Stalkers. Furious, the Thunder Lizard lashes out at Max, injuring him badly and knocking him to the floor. The feathered serpent, Etza, arrives and tackles the Thunder Lizard, with the rest of the Range Knight Irregulars presumably on their way. The entire group turns its attention to the dragon, the only remaining opponent, which soon recognizes that discretion is the better part of valor and teleports away.

(Did you see this announcement? I did not see that coming.)