Oookay, where to begin? Well, first off yesterday’s session was simultaneously one of the strangest games I have ever run, while being one with a remarkable amount of coordination between the players. The teamwork of the group was interesting and resulted in overcoming a whole bunch of challenges without so much as breaking a sweat.
Right, so as with before, let’s take a look at the (suddenly larger) roster of characters:
- Catherine Ashford (played by Silver Countess) – A Biology Professor in Columbia University with a mysterious past, and a pet baby dinosaur named Polly. Often mistaken for a minor due to her looks.
- Elliot “Elly” Tremayne (played by Rvelasco) – A brilliant, if condenscending Linguist and Historian out to prove his grandfather’s theory of a “Proto-Civilization” true to the stodgy bastards of the academe.
- Darwin (played by Hikkikomori) – Fearsome and mysterious “Epicurean Adventurer” who travels the world to find exotic ingredients to subdue with his bare hands, consume posthaste and document maybe sometime when he gets around to it.
- Nathan (Played by Tarathiel23) – Gentleman thief and confidence man who provides the group with the questionable skills necessary to do the more illegal actions necessary to the mission of the Foundation.
- Carter (Played by Mappy) – Occult Investigator and perhaps disturbingly callous Necromancer, Carter gives the team their much needed occult insight and the occasional zombie.
- Leaf-In-Midnight (Played by Pao) – A Native American former construction worker turned assassin, Leaf is deeply spiritual, remarkably skilled in climbing, and tends to have difficulty communicating with the group.
Last session left with the original three characters speeding off as the Blue Lotus was on fire behind them. Today the repercussions of that sort of catches up with them. We begin with Elliot Tremayne sitting down to have a nice little breakfast in the hotel the next morning. Upon opening the paper, the following headline greeted him:
“FIRE IN CHINATOWN. MAYOR OUTRAGED.”
Elly took a moment to take in that information, before calmly setting the paper down to to enjoy the rest of his breakfast.
In the meantime Catherine Ashford had accompanied Detective Andrew Long on his report back to the Police Chief, who was not at all happy to hear that a fire broke out and that a white man (Darwin) had been caught in the incident and was injured. Andrew was suspended, but Catherine spoke to the Chief and had the decision overturned by offering an alternative of giving a statement that makes the police look good and that the rescue of Darwin and the missing Simon Tang was due to the brave actions of the Police. The Police Chief grudgingly accepted, and Andrew’s suspension was overturned. Andrew thanked Catherine for the assistance and promised his aid in any way he can when they next find themselves in trouble.
With that out the way, Catherine met up with Elliot to visit the rapidly recovering Darwin and Simon Tang. With the team gathered, Simon told them what had happened. He was tortured by the Triad, who were determined to find out what he had deciphered from ancient Taoist Magical Writing. He had managed to crack a cypher that held the location of a temple known as the Gates of Guan Yu, named after the ancient Chinese hero and deity. The Gates of Guan Yu was located in an area that was formerly part of Chinese territory, but had since been claimed by Tibet. It is a contested region, and already Chinese forces were pushing into the area, led by a General with more than a passing resemblance to the man in white that Elliot and Darwin encountered in the Blue Lotus.
Putting two and two together, the team resolved to travel to Tibet and beat this General to the Gates first, and hopefully recover whatever artifact it was that the Chinese Army and the Triad were hoping to claim before it could be used for evil ends.
The next scene opens with the original three members of the Foundation sharing this information with the other members: Nathan, Carter and Leaf, all of which were called in to provide assistance in this particular case.
The team touched down in Tibet not long after, using some political clout of the Foundation, that had helped the 13th Dalai Lama before to gain entry and some assistance. Prabat, a member of the Foundation who was native to the area, was there to greet them and worked with Elliot to discern the location of the Gates of Guan Yu.
The location was remote, and far away from any form of roads or infrastructure. As such the team had to trek on foot for to reach the destination, carrying whatever resources they could carry. It was a daunting journey, but none of the team backed down. Some did, however request for some odd items. Catherine Ashford asked for a can of gasoline. Carter requested for two rats in a cage, which he promptly froze out doors and reanimated as zombies for some reason.
The trip was supposed to be fairly safe, but midway through the trip, it became increasingly obvious that the team was running low on rations. Darwin, the Epicurean Adventurer had the Ravenous Flaw, which kicked in at this moment, leaving the team with the prospect of having no food. Intent on making up for it, Darwin led a scouting party to find food, with Leaf, Elly and Ashley in tow, while Carter and Nathan decided to stay toasty warm in camp.
The hunting trip was where things took a turn for the bizarre. The team, led by Darwin, found a herd of wild Yak roaming about. Leaf took the opportunity to stalk around them, before leaping onto the back of one of the Yaks burying his hatchet into the back of the animal but failing to do enough damage to drop the beast. Panicked, the herd broke into a stampede, rushing straight towards the other members of the hunting party!
The other members sought high ground, but the herd was rushing straight towards a cliff side were about to take Leaf with them! Catherine Ashford, forced to take drastic measures, used her advanced medical knowledge and biology to try and discern the best way to disable the beast. She then used her latent Psychic Ability of telepathy to send a vision to Leaf, giving him the location where he should hit the beast he was riding.
Leaf took this sudden vision as a sign from the spirits and gave a heavy blow to the exact spot needed to paralyze the Yak, sending it plowing to the ground, skidding 20 feet to the edge before coming to a stop. Several unlucky Yaks also took a tumble off the cliff, while the rest of the herd fled.
From base camp, Nathan and Carter saw the tumbling Yaks off a cliff, and decided to set off to investigate. That said, given the misadventures with Yaks, this got only stranger, as Carter decided that the best way to preserve their food supplies rather than to leave the Yak was to animate it and have it trot along as a refrigerated source of food.
This was not exactly something that sat well with the team, but seeing as they had little left in terms of food supplies, they had little choice.
They reached the valley where the Gates of Guan Yu lay, peering down from the top of the valley to see that the Chinese Army had set up a camp there, and were using construction equipment to try and chip away at a solid wall of ice on the far end, where the Gate was rumored to be. The team decided to wait till nightfall rather than risk discovery, and so they hid and waited, trying to stay warm without a fire.
By nightfall, they already had a plan. To draw the attention of the army, they had Carter instruct the zombie Yak to march along the edge of the valley, while it was doused in gasoline and set on fire.
So… yeah. The Chinese Army was greeted by the distant sight of a burning undead Yak marching (shambling?) along the edge. They shot it down, not exactly certain as to how to respond to such a sight.
While the Army was perplexed, the team was scaling down the far wall, distracting the guards posted in the construction site and taking stock of the gate. Catherine Ashford (who had taken the Atlantean Bloodline and Weirdness Magnet) began to glow, as mysterious runes from behind the wall of ice glowed as well. Nathan, working on a hunch, pushed Catherine towards the ice, and the little professor stumbled through the ice. With her state, the rest of the team ran into the ice, taking a chance inside rather than risk the ire of an entire army of soldiers outside.
The Gates of Guan Yu turned out to be a large temple structure encased in ice. Light reflected from the ice and other unknown sources filled the courtyard, and the team ran towards the temple complex at the far end. They were halfway there when the temple doors opened, and a large ten foot Yeti and it’s horde of lesser Yeti stormed the courtyard to repel the intruders.
Darwin took control by intimidating the Yeti with a sneer and a single line, “You look delicious!”
His fearsome mien cast a shadow of doubt across the larger Yeti while the lesser ones fled. Carter took out his spellbook and began to summon an extradimensional Horror, Leaf circled to try and strike the greater Yeti from behind while Nathan and Catherine decided to enter the temple ahead. The fight was brutal, with Leaf and Darwin in a vicious melee with the greater Yeti, and Carter basically sending off his Horror to slaughter the lesser Yeti.
Nathan and Catherine rushed into the temple, with the clever thief had managed to disable a trap meant to weed out tomb raiders, and unveiled the the Green Dragon Halberd, Guan Yu’s very own weapon.
Outside, Carter had used a Drain Life spell to enervate and wither the Greater Yeti’s arm, as Darwin dealt the killing blow, before taking out a cleaver to take out some choice cuts out of the Greater Yeti’s still warm body.
Nathan seized the Halberd of Guan Yu, thankfully claiming it in the name of the Guardian Aspect of Guan Yu. What followed was a vicious earthquake, one that almost sent the team sprawling. They turned back to see that the ice was shattered with the use of a strange handheld device held by a Caucasian man who was working with the Chinese Army. Rather than stay and ask questions, Leaf hurled one of his throwing knives as the device, breaking it and buying them the time necessary for the team to seek out another exit, following some of the fleeing Lesser Yeti, as Carter commanded his Horror to engage with the Chinese Army.
The team made a mad scramble to the surface, following the fleeing Yeti to find that they were atop the valley again, looking behind them to see that a massive image of Guan Yu dominated the sky, holding his halberd up and smashing down on the Gates of Guan Yu, causing the valley to fall unto itself and the Chinese Army. The Foundation team didn’t bother to stick around, and fled into the wilderness, hoping to get as much distance between them and and the valley as possible, with the Green Dragon Halberd in hand.
Having achieved their objective, the team fled back to New York, and in their headquarters in the Empire State Building, where they placed the Green Dragon Halberd in the Foundation Vault for safekeeping. The team had just begun to relax from their dangerous journey, when they received a message from the U.S. Military, requesting for their assistance in the theft of one of Nikola Tesla’s top-secret inventions, the Oscillator… a hand-held earthquake generating machine…
Overall this particular session was a roller coaster. It had some slow moments that sort of highlighted just how bad I am with non-urban adventures. I tend to not know enough of the wilderness to make the outdoors sound remotely interesting. That said, the Yak sequence was hilarious and had us in stitches, and the stranger ideas all had some measure of use later on in the game. This group is huge, to be honest, and far more than I’m used to dealing with in other games like Mage: the Awakening, but HEX seems to be handling things extremely well.
I’m a little concerned with the Magic system, but I won’t make any judgements on it just yet. I think I’ll have to read it a little more closely (as well as check out each of the spells just to make sure) Magic seemed to be incredibly powerful, but to pull it off, Carter did have to deal damage to himself just to get the necessary dice to cast with any assurance of success.
So far the game seems to be proceeding with a brisk pace and the players are having fun. I’ve had some feedback that the game seems to feel like popcorn compared to my normally more cerebral campaigns, but I think I’ll have plenty of opportunities to scale up with my trademark consequences down the line. Already I’m taking notes on what has and hasn’t been addressed, and I’m kicking off with the subplots of the player characters.