Monday, May 13, 2024

Mysterious Qada'ath - the 2nd Cha'alt campaign [episode 13]


We just finished the 13th session.  Normally, I write these session reports the day after, but tomorrow is Mother's Day, so I'm trying to get a jump on it now... and finishing Monday.

As promised, I told the players that if anyone rolls a 13 (doesn't matter what die or what it's for), they get a welcome surprise, like a critical success, or special orgasmic treat as one player put it.

The 4 core players showed up, so we had Nix the demon clown thief, Drogon the human sorcerer, Jua'an Tufrifo the crystalline warrior, and Gorra the grog priest.  Nice!

At the end of last session, I described the PCs arrival at Alpha Blue, each of them had a card loaded with 1,000 credits as a way of saying thanks from the starliner's captain.

Recapping why they were there, I reminded them they promised to free the slutty zoth-witch imprisoned in a glass orb by Ambassador Tarrant Greaves and punish that Federation bastard who kidnapped their reverend mother back on Cha'alt several years ago.  

He's here on Alpha Blue doing official Federation business.  The PCs used their A.I. rubix cube, Artemis-5 to track the Ambassador.  He was in sector teal-5, so that's where they went.  The PCs found themselves in a government building as spectators, watching the Ambassador and a dozen other politicos at a government hearing.

Oh yeah, before leaving the central hub, I described the dealers, grifters, pushers, pimps, and opportunistic lowlifes hanging around, eyeing up the new arrivals.  Gorra approached one, asking if they were holding any blue glass.  A guy nodded, gesturing for him to enter a storage closet about 40-feet from his companions.  Inside, was a beautiful prostitute nicknamed blue glass because she was literally made of a bluish hued glass.

However, instead of having sex, he decided to play 17-dimensional chess with her, instead.  I didn't have my random table handy (BTW, if you want to introduce the game of 17-dimensional chess to your players, it's contained within my new book The Cha'alt Experience, wherein I divulge how the campaign setting sausage is made) and nothing was really at stake, so just decided the winner by a single die roll.

Gorra asked around to see if anyone else knew the Ambassador.  There was a politics groupie who filled them in.  Tarrant Greaves was the head official assigned to Cha'alt.  Today, he was proposing Initiative 57, which would outfit A'agrybah (and soon other cities on the planet) with an A.I. surveillance, tracking, and law enforcement system.  Something that most Cha'alt natives would find abhorrent.  

Gorra had a plan, which was to act like they were siding with the Ambassador and Federation.  He went up to speak as a Cha'alt native about the proposed initiative in favor of it.  Even though, he did pretty good, both player and character realized this was an off-the-cuff political speech and probably not as persuasive or detail-oriented as if reading something prepared.  Either way, I couldn't help playing this clip right after he walked back to the viewing gallery (definitely unfair, but too hilarious to pass up).  On a more serious note, this caught the Ambassador's attention, and then later Nix sent a communication to him about helping him carry out their Federation plans.

The Ambassador replied, asking them to meet him at his lavish quarters in sector cerulean-6 two hours from now for a special meeting.  

Earlier, Artemis asked the PCs to take him to a shop where his size could be reduced.  The PCs paid for that, so he was as small as a d6.  Back to the present, the PCs had time to kill, so they dropped Artemis off at sector magenta-7 so they could buy high-tech gear at navy-blue-3.

A shopping spree commenced, as the PCs bought a laser chain-sword, syringe launcher, personal shielding modules, camo cloak, holographic disguise kit, and a laser bolo that doubles as a bow-tie.

They picked-up Artemis as the hooker gave him back to the PCs along with 2 credits and a blue-stained talon (out of the 100 credits they gave him).  Artemis had a very fulfilling time as he had been inserted into 3 different women while the PCs went shopping.

At the Ambassador's private apartment, the PCs were given lavish treatment and told that if they helped him get Initiative 57 off the ground, they'd be rewarded with power, money, women, and made leaders of whatever city or realm on Cha'alt that they wished.  

Greaves showed them a scroll with fancy rods.  This scroll was called Originem Sanctum Sanctorum (stolen from Cha'alt on his last visit; probably worth tens of thousands of credits) and revealed that Cha'alt is the true center of the universe and everything originated on that planet.  Additionally, the prophecy states that the final battle for the fate of the universe will take place on Cha'alt.  

The Ambassador promised to give the PCs the scroll once they had done as he wished.  But for now, he wanted them to go live it up at the local casino where he had influence.  He gave them money, special passes, and told them to use his name to get anything they wanted.  

They took him up on his offer.  I asked each player to come up with one thing that they did while having the night of their lives, curious about what they'd say, I used this as an opportunity to both utilize their agency in full-on, albeit temporary, storygame mode while also crowdsourcing the living story of our campaign.  

Jua'an came up with a congo line of crystalline women (including the blue glass hooker from earlier) with every shade of color represented - even a couple hues that don't exist, like burnt-jale and pallid superviolet, at the apex, standing on the bar was Jua'an himself imbuing all of them with light from the disco ball above so they made a kind of electric rainbow.

Nix got a suite with 3 hookers, and asked Artemis to modify the holographic disguise device he just bought earlier that day to make him look just like Ambassador Greaves.

Gorra simply wanted to jump off the balcony into a pool of water.  

Drogon played several hands of Arcturus Hold'em and through a combination of luck and manipulation won 1,200 credits with a royal flush.

In addition, the Crimson Bastards (as the PCs are sometimes known) bought a small, used, but not a total piece of junk starship called The Serendipity.  This was a way of draining the Ambassador's line of credit more than an exit strategy, but it's always smart to have one of those, too.

Just before dawn, the PCs ran into the 3 NPCs they met on the S.S. Vernice starliner - Goldie, Grape, and UX-45.  As a way of saying sorry for getting the PCs mixed up in their dark zedi business, they gave away tickets to a newish interactive, hyper-realistic virtual video game called "Blue Sky on Cha'alt."  They stole the tickets, so what the Hell, right?

After sleeping off the night of their lives, they awoke to Artemis telling them the whereabouts of the Ambassador - he was playing in that Blue Sky on Cha'alt game.  Believing this to be an ideal opportunity to sha'ank him when vulnerable, the PCs decided to pay him a little visit.  

Upon entering the gaming facility, they each received a neck injection to inoculate themselves from possible computer viruses.  After that, each member of the party was eased into a suspended animation game-pod and hooked-up to various cords and cables as they began to feel sleepy.

Just before the lids closed on their game-pods, I had a clipboard jockey ask them each a question, referencing Total Recall.  Favorite food and/or drink?  Worm wine.  Favorite type of prostitute?  Asian.  Favorite movie: Hutchsuckabust (of course).  Favorite color?  Tyrian purple.  I already worked the prostitute angle into this session, coming up a bit later, but will have to be mindful of those choices for session 14 in a couple weeks.

Before they knew it, the PCs were back on Cha'alt, but this time in an A.I. generated video game - which is even more weird when you consider that the campaign started when the PCs entered a Cha'alt virtual reality simulator from the get-go.  So, now they're guys in a video game to play Cha'alt who went to a space station somewhere in the galaxy to enter another video game in order to be on Cha'alt again.

Sure enough, the Ambassador was there - but either the PCs look different through his eyes or they look the same and the Ambassador realizes the game itself is mining his subconscious mind for Cha'alt details it can use in order to make this simulation as accurate or Cha'altian as possible.

Now, the PCs are ushered into the Temple of the Purple Worm in Kra'adumek.  The High Priest tells everyone present (the PCs, Ambassador, and various other players and NPCs) that he has a device that can reverse the apocalypse, causing Cha'alt to remain the idyllic paradise it was hundreds of years ago, as the Old Ones remain asleep and not pissed-off that their former worshipers had forgotten all about them.

They all stand in a circle - surrounding a large purple sphere that glowed purple and sat upon an ivory base carved with demonic faces - and are told to meditate, emptying their mind amidst the blackness of the void and prepare to ka'amshuk the grusyla'ag which everyone but Gorra knew meant "tentacle rape."  Be reassured that its literal translation only occasionally means physical penetration of a sexual nature by tentacle.  Frequently, ka'amshuk the grusyla'ag refers to receiving some sort of dark truth or unsettling knowledge which one does not want to know.

However, in this case, there was also the very real risk of being raped by one or more tentacles.

As the PCs meditated, they saw translucent magenta ooze flowing from basalt obelisks and obsidian towers - shadowy entities lurking in the lurid gloom.  Suddenly, a brilliant white light shines in the darkness - a glaive with 3 of its 7 taloned fingers embedded in a black altar.  The more intense their gaze, the stranger they feel.  Zoth slowly trickles from where the glaive is embedded in the black altar.  As the PCs felt the gentle caress of a tentacle sidle up to their backsides, the ceremony was interrupted by shouting - commotion in the temple!

Raiders toting blasters burst through the doors of the temple to kill all the infidels trying to subvert the Old Ones' will.

Ambassador Greaves ran behind a pillar that was conveniently located near a spiral staircase going down.  After trading shots with the raiders, the Ambassador and PCs headed down the stairs to evade being slaughtered.

Once down there, the PCs noticed 3 purple bars running across their forearm but weren't sure what to make of that.  Soon enough, they encountered a violet ooze with insectoid claws.  The Ambassador blasted it with a fireball but critically failed and did either 15 or 7 points of damage (depending on saving throws) to the entire party.  The Ambassador went up in flame.  The PCs attacked it themselves, asking if they still had their same skills and equipment.  

Shortly after the combat, Ambassador Greaves rose like a phoenix from his ashes with only 2 bars on his forearm remaining.  If the Jumanji (remake) reference didn't click, then I don't know what to tell you.

I told them that their simulated experience in the game was based on their own subconscious mind that the A.I. was scanning and utilizing.  After some back and forth discussion, Jua'an the crystalline warrior decided to become a bard.  Drogon, formerly a sorcerer, became a warrior, while Nix and Gorra remained themselves.  And all the adventurers had the same equipment they'd have on their character sheets prior to coming to Alpha Blue.

In a tunnel, the PCs saw a corpse lying on the ground with a pained expression on his face.  Jua'an began looting the body - only to find that a purple fungus had bred some tentacles of its own that attacked!  Jua'an the bard took some bludgeoning as the rest of the party attacked and soon dispatched it.  They discovered a walnut sized ruby and a map on the corpse.

Further on, the PCs ran into a cat-snake (if you've played through Beneath Kra'adumek in the first Cha'alt book, some of these encounters will be familiar).  Those three beautiful women (in that cat-snake illustration) were also present.  They tried and failed to slay the beast, so the PCs ventured in and attacked.  

Only 2 rounds into the encounter, Gorra was bit by the snake and I had him roll a saving throw - which was the one and only 13 of the night.  He amazingly turned into sand at the last minute, which made the cat-snake bite its own tongue.  Then I rolled a saving throw for the creature's poisonous bite... and rolled a 1.  So, it died immediately.  

The warrior babes, Asian features but with melon-heavy breasts, were so grateful for Gorra's vanquishing of the cat-snake that they thanked him the only way they knew how.  In the meantime, Jua'an the bard decided to compose a song on his bladed lute.  I handed him the lyrics to Great Purple Worm of Cha'alt  and he began to sing (even though he didn't know the Smelly Cat song from FRIENDS).  Walking away with their mouths resembling glazed donuts (Gorra shall be henceforth known as the Peter North of Cha'alt), the PCs took the beast's loot and continued on.

As they walked, Greaves revealed that the last time he played Blue Skies of Cha'alt, he hid an object that he'd taken from the real Cha'alt somewhere inside the ivory base supporting the purple orb casting its illumination across the temple's ritual chamber.  Presumably, this was the glass sphere containing the slutty zoth-witch the PCs were sent here to free.  As an interesting aside, Greaves speculated that the A.I. would have a better or easier time replicating Cha'alt authentically if it had something real (not simulated) from Cha'alt inside of the game-space.

Finally, they came to a dead-end cave that contained a massive purple stone statue of the demon-worm adorned with glowing veined amethyst gems.  Figuring out how to open a secret passage, the PCs went into a strange realm of purple glass with violet mist clinging to the floor.  They followed a serpentine path until coming to a threshold filled with undulating purple tentacles.  Within that tentacular mass was a magic ring.  Nix rolled well enough to take the ring without getting struck with a tentacle.

This was a ring of power.  When worn, the ring provides a +3 bonus to all rolls when the ring-wearer is mostly surrounded by purple.  

Additionally, there was a mural painted on the wall.  Our middle child was feeling restless as usual, so she talked me into drawing with her earlier in the day.  I drew something that was inspired by Cha'alt so I could use it in the game (I call this two tentacles, one vial of zoth-based lube).  Once Drogon deciphered the eldritch glyphs upon the mural, I told him what they read...

Fuchsia and chartreuse, haunting Cha'alt... strange and eternal.

The struggle is real.  Conscious suffering; salvation

Several will awaken from the darkness, bathed in fire

And they shall inherit Cha'alt, for their sins.

That's where we stopped because we ran out of time.  This was a wild, sprawling adventure that, now I look back on it, seems streets ahead (sectors ahead?) of sessions I used to run years ago.  So, hopefully the players are enjoying the campaign as much as I am.

A lot of funny, interesting, or cool lines were heard at the table...

  • "Are we being farmed by the game's A.I. for our experiences on Cha'alt?"
  • "Perhaps that's why you were introduced to the Cha'alt game from the very beginning?  Cha'altception, hoss!"
  • "This is Ba'azarius, Demon Lord of the Night Clowns - do you need help implementing Initiative 57 in A'agrybah?  If so, let me be instrumental in your grand design!"
  • Jua'an began wearing the feathered hat picked-up from the cat-snake's lair simply because he now identified as a bard.  Inside the hat was a sewn-in tag that read "The Pussy Mutilator - available from the pick-up artist emporium."
  • "If Artemis catches a computer virus from his two hours with those whores, we better take him to the Geek Squad."
  • Anytime the PCs wanted to go somewhere on Alpha Blue, it became whatever they wanted R us.  So, a whore house was Whores R Us and a weapons shop was Weapons R Us.
  • "You've heard of uber?  Well, this is Uber Arsenal, they can bring the weapons to you.  Their motto is - guns on the go!"
  • "If you want transport to somewhere on Alpha Blue, just take a Johnny Cab."

Thanks for reading, hoss!  In 2 weeks, we'll be back with more Cha'alt action.  If you like what's going on, post a comment down below.


p.s. You're running out of time to game with us at VENGER CON III: Revenge of the OSR July 19th - 21st in Madison, WI.  Grab your weekend badge now!  How about that gorgeous hardcover trilogy of Cha'alt books, huh... huh?  Ordering info here.

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