Sunday, January 26, 2014

XXR1: Doublecrossroads Play Report

Schoolmarm Fidelity Liddle was murdered in a province in the shadow of Massacree Mesa, her killer slithering away in a form of teeth and shadows before taking to the sky as a hawk. Chauncey Liddle identified the face of the man he saw attacking his wife as that of local degenerate Buzz Beakley, who went missing after the murder. A bounty has been placed by the Supergovernorate of Unconsecrated Erika to the tune of 50,000 gold for Beakly's capture, representing as he does an affront to both law and order as well as an affront to the pure and natural and wholesome world (as defined by parameters set by the SUE). The party is a group of enterprising bounty hunters who have left their old lives behind to pursue major league riches, borrowing themselves into debt to the tune of 100g per character  and setting out on the hunt. Their trail led them ever further west, still sheltering them in the cloak of civilization, until in Shapestone (gateway to the desert) they heard tell Beakly had been seen, and had fled west, and taken residence around Doublecrossroads. Doublecrossroads, last exit to the badlands, where the Wyrmcoach meets the Sirocco Trail, refuge of the desperate, the zealots, the mad, and the disowned. The party stowed aboard the town's supplies that were being cast out using the lightning lenses of Shapestone.

They arrived at night, decanted by a surprised but easily bluffed postmaster named Scroonch Flinders. More people would have noted something going wrong with a shipment by lightning lens, unsubtle as they usually are, but the town's attention was focused on the main square. A witch was being burned.

Brass McGunlock, a PC, was a witch.

Several of the town's movers and shakers were out for this event, and most of the town and the homesteaders around the town had come out to watch. The party would learn their names through some investigation later: Mayor Horace Cloot was there, along with the sheriff (elected lawman) Oby Binguddy. Also present was Father Penitence Cannoneer of the church of Mother, a rubbery-skinned whip-tailed monster with a second gnashing mouth where its eyes should be. One mouth was always singing hymns of ritual sacrifice or holy slaughter.

Most conspicuous was the presence of three witches at this witch burning, the town's own sisters, and the horrible seafoam-green shapeless things which lingered between their cloaks. One of them took her hood down and spoke about the importance of vigilance and that the town not betray them, and everyone seemed pretty revved up by that.

The party found lodging with hotelier Gortina Fustler, and the next morning set out to find some answers.

At this point, the party: a nameless Omen who had the power to create a single duplicate of himself; the witch, Brass McGunlock; bat-warthog-man mutant (created with LL compatible Mutant Future generation rules) Lonesome Jim Sonar; a Gentleman named Admiral Junior; Kieth the Prieth, a cleric; Brave, a deaf and dumb diminutive gila monster mutant.

Their plan of action seemed to be loudly talking about their mission to anyone who would listen. First up, at the Ale Rider, bartender Fargoer Tizchiashn, an genial fellow who served up some alcoholic blood but little information. Next, on discovering there was a brothel, the party headed to the southwest edge of town to visit and interrogate matron Matricia Erudith and sample her wares. Matricia pled ignorant of their mission but talked the guys into spending some coin for some company.

Now through Lonesome Jim Sonar's echolocation and Predator-vision, they were able to observe the matron tromp upstairs, have some negotiation with a hunched old man in a tub, and then observe that old man putting on which point his whole heat signature and outline changed to that of a voluptuous woman. The party had found their shapeshifter. This was easier than they'd expected!

The party burst in and confronted prostitute Papillon Prancy and demanded she remove her corset. When she did not change they pressed her, saying they had observed her changing shape. She laughed, went to a drawer, and, still nude, put on a gunbelt. On doing so she transformed into postmaster Scroonch Flinders.

Scroonch explained that because Doublecrossroads was so isolated for so long before the lightning lenses that the town was in danger of dying out. To help repopulate the town and to pass the lonely time these items were crafted generations ago by a clothier and magician: gunbelts that change you, as well as waistcoats and corsets which do the same.

(It's important to note that these items don't simply swap your gender. They create a new you. You change not just sex but age and sometimes race. You have the memories and feelings of a real person, and your own skills and aspirations. It's as if you rent half your body out as a timeshare to another universe. These aren't just spell effects or illusions, they're much more real, and therefore stranger and dangerous.)

Anyway, there are plenty of Strangers (what the humans of the city call the halfling dwarf elf nome etc settlers) and most of them came after the lenses went up, but most of the humans now have at least two full lives they live, sometimes more, and age more slowly for each life they divide their time between.

Realizing they were now searching for one shapeshifter in a city of shapeshifters, the party considered leaving and giving up. Flinders further explained that scheduling a lighting of the lenses would be something the mayor or marshall (civil lawman over the sheriff, appointed by the mayor) would have to approve and something which the sisters would have to power. The party said fuck and went to bed.

The next day Brass and Jim (both played by Joshua), Brave and a monk named Grape (both played by Menda), and a monk named Widdik (Played by Claude) took the information their other fellows had helped to gather and went out to see about finding enough money to get out of town, or their quarry, or really just anything to do. They decided to get rip snorting drunk, resulting in Brave spending all of his money on a door-to-door egg delivery scheme and Grape offending someone unintentionally and being shot in a duel. His aggressor, Charley Hannibal, was imprisoned, and the party decided they wanted to go grill him in jail. Once there, though, they were more interested in the lizard man in the cell to Charley's left and the nearly nude elf to Charley's right. The lizard man had been arrested at the behest of local cattle baron and decorated veteran Big Black Johnson on suspicion that he and his band of desert scavengers had been making off with Johnson's smaller livestock. The elf had been brought in for questioning and then detained for resisting arrest, to be shipped out to Shapestone when conditions allowed to be processed for imprisonment. The elf, Alabaster Chichuhukchok, claimed the sheriff and his deputy simply detained him in order to confiscate his gold jewelry as evidence.

Local degenerate Skeeter Downing burst into the sheriff's office (located at the small jail, as opposed to the marshall's office located in city hall) and said that the big yella thunder lizard from Cripple Canyon had showed up again and wrecked his cottage and still. The sheriff, suspicious and hostile toward the party, gave them a chance to prove their worth: either help provide security for Telissa's wedding at Skyfather Chapel (there was talk of spider-riding coyote raiders in the hills north of town) while the sheriff dealt with the dinosaur or head out to the canyon and attend to that so the sheriff doesn't have to. The party decided the dinosaur would be more awesome.

Once outside of town, near a pyramid-like rock outcropping, Brass finally unsheathed his wand and took a few zaps to stretch his legs. He blew up a cactus, and the 'rock pile' next to the cactus freaked out, unwound, backed up, and resolved itself into a giant rocky scorpion. The party decided they wanted to tame and befriend this scorpion and use it to attack the dinosaur and later as insurance while in town. So they tried to tie down the scorpion's tail and claws with nets and whips and use punches and blunt attacks to try and use the dragon taming rules from Basic to calm the scorpion down. The scorpion scissored both Brass and Jim to death (hamburger style and hot dog style respectively) before Brave finally got through its armor and the thing expired.

In the scorpion's tunnel lair they found a little gold, a red symbol-covered skullcap, and a few mundane items. They also found a potion, which Brave drank, becoming somewhat attracted to Widdik. Brave gave Widdik a love bite to show affection, transmitting the scorpion blood that Brave saved against but Widdik didn't. Widdik received a mutation, Hypno-Eyes. On seeing that happen Brave went back for some more scorpion blood and drank enough until he also got a mutation, Dreamshaping.

They were joined by the nameless Omen twins of Claude and Joshua's Omen character named Thistle, who followed along after their companions after hearing about the mission but did not get here in time to help. The new party went on to find and fight the dinosaur. When the bright yellow tyrannosaurus rex seemed more bored than rampaging, they decided to follow it and, again, try to befriend it, since it went so well with the scorpion. Since the t-rex had consumed the contents of Downing's still it was pretty full and hammered but not sick from it yet. The party amused the creature with parlor tricks like floating blankets and fed it a bunch of food and their rations, improving its reaction to them considerably. Then they led it back toward town, specifically back toward the scorpion hole. It tried the scorpion but threw it up, failing its save and gaining Chameleon Camouflage. While it ate the bodies of their former characters, everyone looted those same bodies. Grape's arrows were dipped into the scorpion's tail venom, making them save or die arrows that do normal damage on a save. 80 of them. Brass' wand was reclaimed with the hopes of turning it in at the sheriff's office for a bounty.

The t-rex overate and became sick, throwing up and lying down in the sand. Brave crawled into its mouth and threw up. Since the t-rex was a lady reptile the love potion in his belly made him instantly in love with her, and, decanted into the dinosaur, made the dinosaur instantly in love with him. As the t-rex went to sleep in the hot sun, Brave started manipulating her dreams, making her more friendly and better trained and strengthening the bond of the love potion. Everyone else decided to take rest and refuge in the scorpion tunnel while they figured out a way to either smuggle their companion back to town unnoticed or to get enough stuff from town to set up a base of operations here.

In the night while Brave lovingly humped the sleeping t-rex, the party's horrible luck held true. A long golden dragon was curled up like a rattler, propped up on its elbows watching the coitus. Playfully and coyly it talked about being impressed with Brave and considering sparing him, threatening to eat his whole village if there were more like them, trying to do some dragon mind games, but the deaf Brave just stared, not understanding. He reached into the t-rex's (named T-Resa) dreams and caused her to dream that all this was happening and that she had to wake up right now and defend Brave. She did, and the game turned into the GM fighting with himself and, when the dragon cast Speak with Animals, talking to himself. The dragon, while sadistic, was not violent, and after failing to put T-Resa to SLEEP (and T-Resa's attacks failing to break the skin) simply SCAREd her away for a few rounds. While this was happening Brave ran into the tunnel and woke up his friends.

Thistle tried to hit the dragon with an arrow and Widdik tried to hypno the dragon to go away, but neither worked. The dragon, constantly shifting from dragon form to human in waves of golden windswept sand, approached Widdik and touched him, initiating a GOD-BET and conjuring a Witchdeck (a very specific Deck of Many Things). The stakes: if the dragon won, Widdik would live, but live as the dragon's servant, leader of an undead army it would use to take over the continent, and live with every curse and malady and disease the dragon had ever suffered in its many years. The dragon's youth and power would be restored. The world would be ash.

Claude bargained that the dragon would pay each character 1000 gold and leave them alone until they were strong enough to face him. Dream big.

The game was simple: both would draw from the Witchdeck and suffer whatever consequence befell them, and whoever came out ahead would be the winner. The dragon received a curse and a save penalty but Widdik dissolved into black sand and was beyond dead, beyond even the dragon's powers. The dragon, eager to continue the game and unburden himself of all of his pain and baggage, egged the group on until Claude's nameless Omen sent his double to play. The double (and because of a failed save, his brother-father) was reduced to animal intelligence. The dragon this time was trapped in a magical, auto-drawing loop that cursed him, then gave him a magic item, then supponed a type H horde, then cursed him, and then finally killed him, and he had (I was gratified to hear) an awesome death scene like Judge Doom.

The party tied the Omens and T-Resa to a rock and started playing with their stuff. They found candlesticks, pearls, statuettes, gems, gold, silver, copper, estimated haul of 54000, and a few other items they hadn't identified. There were two potions, one in elven and one in the shorthand of the medicinemen. There was a ring, and a ring in the golden skull the deck had summoned as well. There was a suit of leather armor, a fancy as hell wand, and a scroll. The scroll was cursed, and when opened case Quest on everyone present, with only Claude's Omens and T-Resa failing their save. They are now under the effects of Quest, as drawn from the context of the world around them, which means they are now forced to try to win the wagon race during the big fair at the end of the month. The party also ascertained that the rings were rings of Animal Control and Growth (which can make Brave a semi-normal size between a halfling and dwarf). They did not mess with the potions and nobody touched the Witchdeck, which rests on the black sand which was once the gold dragon.

So they leveled. Brave just got more HP, Thistle got a 1/d6 Detect Virtue 1/day to go with his Omen's Detect Evil Sense. The Omens rolled a mutation on their leveling table and rolled One Arm so each omen had their arm fall off, one right and one left. Claude had a rough night.

The party went back to sleep with the plan of heading back into town to collect a reward, spend some money on supplies, do some carousing, and look for some magical Curing and Curse Removing if possible, which will send them to one of the three literally warring churches or to the sisters. They plan to have T-Resa blend into the environment on top of their hoard tunnel to protect it in their absence.