Sunday, May 26, 2024

Crouching Sandworm, Hidden Glory Hole (episode 14 of the 2nd CHA'ALT campaign)


Back down to the essential 3 as our usual 4th player had a work thing out-of-town...

Drogon, Jua'an Tufrifo, and Nix.  In this simulated reality of Blue Sky on Cha'alt hyper-immersive video game, Drogon was a warrior and Jua'an a bard.  We picked-up right where we left off, exiting the purple labyrinth with Nix wearing a magnificent ring of power +3, but only when the wearer is surrounded by purple.

Just after the session re-cap, I asked the players if they wanted to do with naturally rolled 14s the same we did for 13 results last session.  Basically, making them critical successes (I reminded them that rolls of 14 mean enemies would also crit).  2 of the 3 players enthusiastically said yes, while the 3rd shrugged his shoulders and was fine either way.  So, we went ahead with it.  

And I can tell you, it went quite a bit different this session.  Last session, one person rolled a single 13 towards the end of the session, but this game saw nearly double-digits of 14s rolled throughout, making for an epic time.  So, let's get into it...

As soon as the PCs wandered out of that area, they heard sounds of men with blasters.  Apparently, the blaster-toting jiha'adists came down into the caves beneath the temple to look for survivors.  The PCs believed they could force the raiders into a tunnel choke-point and pick enough off to weaken their force.  They started shooting and soon enough, Drogon (whose player rolled a 14) critted with his blaster, taking out 3 raiders in that round.  And another PC took down a 4th.

The raiders were sufficiently spooked and ran back upstairs in an attempt to save-ass.  The PCs thought long and hard about following them up, taking the battle to the raiders, but decided against it.  Instead, they resumed their exploration, going down an alternate route to the southern tunnels and caves where they noticed little puddles of dirty yellow liquid on the cavern floor's low areas, along with an increased humidity and the scent of margaritas.

Nix had scouted the area first, but was quick not to go too far in.  Jua'an decided to experiment and I gave him odds of avoiding danger, but the dice had other plans.  A yellow-ochre pudding dropped from the cave ceiling and tried to envelop him.  The NPC (but an actual NPC from the "real world" of Alpha Blue, rather than an NPC in the Blue Sky on Cha'alt game) who was Ambassador Greaves cast a fireball at Jua'an, attempting to save him.  It worked, as the dirty-yellow pudding burned up and Jua'an took minimal damage.

The PCs headed back the long way in hopes of avoiding becoming a pudding's lunch.  At this point, a disheveled and crazed human came running down the stairs with a dagger in his hand, shouting something unintelligible.  I gave this a 50% chance of turning deadly for the man who had been taken hostage by the raiders and was simply trying to escape.  But Jua'an started playing his calming lute... and rolled a 14.  The man remembered that was the song his mother used to sing to him at night, and this relaxed him to the point where he could tell the PCs about his escape and that he wanted to join up with them until it was safe.

The PCs accepted and allowed Bernie Hutchsuck to tag along.  However, they never bothered to ask him about himself or find out why they had taken him hostage (I mean, they're jiha'adists, so...) or what he was doing on Cha'alt.  I expect that will come into play next session.

Eventually, the adventurers came to a crowd of banana-men with glowing chartreuse eyes, which implied that they were temporarily possessed by the Old Ones.  The banana-men and a few other fruitie prisoners stood on the precipice of a crater of molten lava.  They were about to sacrifice themselves so the Old Ones would have a delicious smoothie to drink after awakening.

The party's bard strummed his lute again, but this time it only made the banana-men mad.  Several of them charged up the hill to attack the PCs... but they were easily cut down as another 14-crit was rolled and the adventurers seemed as laser-firing Gods to these primitive fruit-folk.  The PCs pressed their attack, making the rest of the banana-men either flee or jump into the molten lava, which was their original plan.  The fruitie prisoners were rescued!

There were 2 strawberry-men (both named Barry), an orange female named Tanjesca, and a furry seeded raspberry kiwi abomination named Razwee.  They had just been abducted during the middle of an experiment with time, space, and other dimensions.  Apparently, there was a pineapple-man, too, but he was killed when the fruities were abducted from their own cave.  They showed the PCs the portal which Professor Pineapple had opened, and they offered the PCs a chance to look at their book containing all kinds of dimensional calculations and various names of worlds, but the remaining fruities couldn't help Drogon figure out which world this portal led to. 

There was something else in that cave - glyphs carved into the cave wall.  Something about praising the Old Ones and there was a tentacle-shaped cut deep into the stone, which Drogon assumed was some kind of ultra-telluric gloryhole.  Intrepid as they were, the PCs decided not to pursue that opportunity. 

Leaving the fruit-folk for further exploration...

Suddenly, a disembodied voice came through loud and clear saying "We interrupt your game for just a moment to remind you about Fresh Pearl toothpaste - it makes your mouth almost too clean!"

... they found a cave with 4" humanoids (tinylings) riding snails that excreted a purple dye that looked suspiciously like Tyrion Purple!  Unbeknownst to the rest of us, Drogon (sharing his player's aversion) hated snails, so he went to work smashing them with his boot, creating a small massacre, as well as, a good-sized pool of Tyrion Purple dye.  Nix, drenched all his clothing in the dye and Greaves purpled the front of his hands.

The only other thing in this cave was a blacklight poster of purple mushrooms with eyes and some eldritch glyphs on the bottom of the poster.  Drogon read the translation aloud, "Is it tomorrow or just the end of time?"  Then, the purple, many-eyed mushroom poster glimmered and looked like you could put your hand right into it - which you could.  Each of the PCs and Greaves grabbed a magic mushroom and popped it in their mouths after Jua'an had a short psionic-borne conversation with one, who said he wanted to be eaten so it would open up the imbiber's third eye.

They entered a purple velvet cave just as the purple fell away to reveal velvet lavender as 4 moons ascended and 1 descended into a pit as that moon changed into an all-seeing, 7 lobed burning eye belonging to Uma'at-Allah.  Golden worms disentangled themselves from the reality of the lavender velvet cave.  They asked "What is the nature of existence?"  And waited for a response.  Jua'an answered something like "Pain," to which the gold worms demanded for him to be honest.  And then he said something similar, as the worms replied, "I said honest!"  And Jua'an tripled down with "Suffering" or some such.

The gold worms merged to form one gigantic golden snake.  The serpent told them to ride it, so they did.  It took them through dimensions undreamt as they saw themselves in the past, entering the cave where their original journey into Cha'alt began.  The hyper-realistic simulation game hummed and beeped while they sat down.  Slowly, it took them even further back, showing the PCs as ordinary people working in an office cubicle.  Looking out of the window, it resembled Chicago circa 1999.  There's a poster of The Matrix on the wall of their shared cubicle.

They took another look outside and the sky was fuchsia.  A Great Old One slithered over the tiny streets below - the Dark God was as tall as a skyscraper.  The Matrix poster showed a banana at the forefront, now.  It disintegrated rapidly as days went by in seconds.  A humanoid wearing scarlet robes entered the office asking if they had been punished - the infidels.  The PCs answered in the affirmative.  The Old One outside devours the golden serpent as the lavender moons crack like eggs in the fuchsia sky - a glowing chartreuse ichor oozes from the broken eggs.  The zoth has eyes and it watches the tripping adventurers from below.  "There is no escape," they heard somewhere in their mind.  "This is a fallen world and it will remain so until the avenger of Qada'ath destroys the usurper."

Just before waking, the PCs saw an image seared into their mind - glyphs carved into the living rock of the lavender velvet cave.  However, these glyphs were unknown - 6th dimensional (at least), and couldn't be readily translated.

Continuing on, the PCs discovered a small library along with a couple purple priests.  Oh, but not before the PCs heard this screeching roar and thud sounds coming from above them, something on the surface was unquiet and insistent.  

After crashing through the library, they found a zita'ar player who was playing an oddly familiar song, "She'll Be Comin' 'Round The Sandworm."  The musician NPC was self-aware enough to know he was an NPC and complained that he'd been playing this song about a thousand times since the adventurers started playing Blue Sky on Cha'alt.

Around this point, a sandworm had broken through the ceiling just over the molten pool of lava, causing a cave-in.  Undeterred, the PCs continued to explore the southern caves and found a place where priests were meditating before a bronze bowl/basin and then another cave that contained 3 purple priests and 7 alien demon-worm eggs.  The PCs formulated a plan - breakfast!

The sandworm had gone into another part of the caves, so they took one of the eggs (after shooting the priests - oh, but I rolled 14 talons for the loot and so decided to roll on a special loot table, the one relating to random desert encounter treasure at the beginning of Cha'alt.  Nix now claimed a gleaming, translucent, periwinkle cube), put it in the basin (using the blue-green syrup as a cooking oil), and holding that over the molten lava to cook.  Within minutes, the PCs had all the scrambled eggs they could want.  I gave each of them their level's chance out of 100 to inherit a psionic power from eating alien demon-worm egg cooked in that weird teal syrup that tasted suspiciously like french-fries.  

By now, there was a second worm that crashed through the rock ceiling back where they had just come from.  Noticing a pattern, the PCs believed it wise to get the fuck out of these caves.  So, they headed back up to the temple above - but not before traversing the yellow-ochre puddings amongst the stalactites.  All the PCs made it out ok, but not Greaves and Bernie (back when the clipboard girl asked the PCs about their favorite movie, Jua'an replied with some weird nonsense he just made up, which the A.I. or perhaps the clipboard girl translated as Weekend at Bernie's).  However, Greaves made his saving throw.  Bernie failed and was quickly engulphed in the pudding.  Just before he was completely gone, he threw Drogon his keys saying that it's theirs, just ask the valet for him to bring it round to the front of the temple as it was parked in a very special spot, and her name is Gold-Digger.

Greaves decided to shoot a fireball up the stairs before they charged the raiders.  One of the raiders burned as they ran up the spiral staircase to see [a player stimulated the HUMOR Cha'alt X-Cards... which we haven't seen in a few sessions] the tinylings putting on a sort of show for the raiders.  It was a combination of pantomime battle between themselves and synchronized snail dancing with some red-hot gypsies thrown in for good measure... an act I decided to call Crouching Sandworm, Hidden Glory Hole.  The raiders were amused and distracted, which is all the PCs needed.  

Greaves shot-out another fireball that killed 4 of them, the PCs shot a few others, but one returned fire, filling Greaves full of laser holes, dying for the 2nd time in the game (3 strikes and you're out).  Meanwhile, Nix wanted to grab the crystal sphere containing the slutty zoth-witch that Greaves had placed inside a demon's mouth on the ivory pedestal base supporting a purple glow-orb.  So, he used a lavender demon-moon die of destiny... and rolled a 1, then he used up Drogon's point of Divine Favor, and rolled a 2, then Nix stimulated the GONZO Cha'alt X-Card and got another shot... only to roll a 2 again.  

He dived towards the ivory pedestal (that part of the floor was cracked and about to fall through into the caves below), found the crystal sphere, grabbed it - and then a giant purple sandworm with its face resembling Gonzo from the Muppets erupted through the floor and chomped on Nix.  Just before the worm's massive jaws ended his fate, he smashed the orb against his newfound gleaming cube as the ethereal energy from the orb released the zoth-witch from her imprisonment.  And then Nix was gone... but since this was Blue Sky on Cha'alt, it had merely used one of his three lives.

Nix appeared after a few seconds with his belongings still in-tact (like the gleaming cube, ring, and Tyrion Purple clothes).  

As the PCs had group sex with the slutty zoth-witch reverend mother, she imparted even more wisdom upon them.  The best possible way to reach Quorta'ath (where this ultimate weapon could be found that they needed to defeat Isa'ac) was through the savage world of Carcosa.  Then, she bestowed an eldritch glyph, similar to a zoth tattoo, upon each of the PCs and teleported herself back to her home on Cha'alt, with her slutty zoth-witch sisters.

Of the three choices, Drogon picked wisdom, Nix picked cunning, and Jua'an picked strength.  Greaves, who also had sex with her, picked a secret 4th choice as revealed to him in the Blue Sky on Cha'alt player's guide.  It was a cheat-code that got him the zoth tattoo of a banana!

It was then that Greaves became angered that the PCs had freed the witch he imprisoned in that glass sphere, but they assuaged his rage by letting him activate the device that would prevent the Old Ones from waking up to see their former servants forget about the Dark Gods which would eventually lead to the apocalypse and change Cha'alt's destiny.

As he was fiddling around with it - I had everyone roll a special d20 check to see if they picked-up on divine impressions sent out by Uma'at-Allah himself - telling them to waste that turkey, reverse the polarity, and place the device in the altar.

They shot Greaves in the back (this being his 3rd death, he did not come back), reversed the polarity, found a hidden compartment in the altar, and then decided not to find cover as they assumed that this would end the game and there'd be no need to be cautious. 

The altar vibrated and shown with awful light as it exploded.  The PCs incurred some damage as fragments of altar-stone flew by like shrapnel.  Luckily, Jua'an stood behind someone, so he took less damage than others.  

By this time, the entire floor of the temple was a big open mess.  They could see their fruitie friends down below who told them they discovered where that portal led, after all - Carcosa.

So, the PCs ventured back down, rested, had group sex with the orange female, Tanjesca, and went through the portal into Carcosa - the sky was a dim and dusky purple.  The land was interspersed with rocks, grasslands, and mud.  Up ahead was the nameless plateau that the zoth-witch had mentioned - a sorcerer would be on the edge of standing stones, about to call a suckered abomination, the sorcerer would help them get to Quorta'ath.

The plateau was about 3 miles north.  However, they also saw a recently crashed starship billowing black smoke about a half-mile northeast.  Which way, western man?  

They decided to check out the starship.  Approaching it cautiously, they came upon a man in spaceflight clothing who was rocking back and forth, talking about a shining tetrahedron that quietly passed over a hundred men, instantly killing them.  This man had clearly gone insane, and tried to run away, but Jua'an grabbed him before he could get away.  

Looting his unconscious body, the human had a purple keycard, 7 credits, and a star chart - which the PCs took for safe keeping.

As they were dealing with that, some greenish oozing creature slithered out of the starship's entrance.  The PCs blasted it before it could do much to harm them.  They went in, found a pantry locker containing spam and tang, and refreshed themselves... using the heated barrel of their lasers to get a nice sear on the spam.

That's where we ended it.  About an hour before the game, I had been looking all over for my hardcover copy of Carcosa, but couldn't locate it until an hour or two after the game when my wife told me to "look behind the milk" and there it was.  So, now I'll be mining Carcosa for ideas (along with Prince of Nothing's Carcosa session reports which start here) on how to run that for awhile - using my methods outlined in the campaign setting toolbox that is The Cha'alt Experience: Designing Worlds Like A Fucking Boss.

There was some discussion amongst the players on how real this world was.  It felt like they had taken a departure from the Blue Sky on Cha'alt game, but was this Carcosa place real?  And if they're in a game inside a game (possibly inside another game), does it matter exactly where in the inception or Cha'alt-ception they happened to be?  

A disquieting notion of game worlds merging into something in-between or something else altogether raised its strange head when they realized that most of the gear they had bought on Alpha Blue was still not with them; however, Drogon was a sorcerer again and Jua'an a warrior and thankfully no longer a bard (yet, he still retained that persona's lute skills - plus they had the ticket-stubs for their Blue Sky on Cha'alt game in their pockets.  Curiouser and curiouser.

We had a lot of laughs, too, while we were playing.  Here are a few choice words heard at the table...

  • "Touch here and praise the Great Old Ones," - "No thanks, glory holes work both ways."
  • "Snail blood-man has me questioning my life choices."
  • "Eating sentient shrooms, they ascend to a higher plane - my stomach."
  • "The tinylings have an open zita'ar case because you never know when admirers will throw their giant (by comparison to the tinylings) spare change in."
  • "He didn't notice until now?  What was Greaves doing, playing WormCrush on his cell-phone... who's your worm crush?"
  • "It's an impotence avoidance scheme."
  • "You people don't have lutes.  You're luteless.  You haven't reached enlutenment."
  • "Do no harm, the adventurers code."
  • "Looks like his dirty-yellow pudding cloak didn't last long.  Too bad, he looked snazzy in it."
  • "The french-fry taste will mix with the eggs and that bluish-green sauce... gravy, like a weird eldritch poutine."
  • "Now that you're dressed in purple and are already part clown, you could start calling yourself the clown prince of Cha'alt."
  • "He called his ship Gold Digger, not Pussy Wagon?" - "Next time, hoss.  Next time."
  • "You're a bard, so seduction and cooking are your class skills."
  • "I've never rolled on this random table before." - "Ah, then it's an inaugural table moment."

The next session will be in 2 weeks, on June 8th.  Thanks for reading!  Hope you're enjoying the wild ride.  

I'm also tentatively preparing for my Cha'alt sessions that I'll be running at VENGER CON III in July.  Go here for details and weekend badges.



  1. Tanjesca and the Tutti Frutties. New band name. Called it!