Hidden Suns session 4: Drugs Are Bad, Mmmkaaay?

Date: 2018-08-07

Player Characters (340 points):
ESA1000 45460 (4-5 for organics), humanoid engineering robot
Gaichu Koschei, android infiltrator/assassin
James Titus Kane, human legendary starship Captain of the Stewards Navy (retired)
Alva von Kirchess, aasimar diva / Captain of the Knights of Golarion (retired), breach and clear specialist

After healing up and resting for a short bit (no more than half an hour) at the pyramid’s entrance, the party decided to head back in. This time they took the door near the staircase, since they have explored everything they could reach through the opposing corridor. The door was very large, made of stone and rather thick by what they could estimate. A cursory check revealed that it was stuck. Since Gaichu was at it, he decided to investigate the opening mechanism. He found access to it in the tight space between the door itself and the wall, where the door would move sideways into the wall as the opening motion. Inserting a snakecam, he discovered that some of the gears in there were jammed by chips of stone. Improvising some tools from his lockpicking set, he managed to free the gears. 4-5 stepped up and pushed the door into the wall.

Beyond was a large hall, some 15×20 yards across and almost 10 yards high. There were two other doors leading out, one on he east side and one to the south (the players entered through the north door). Those were much smaller than the door they just came though, of the “regular” door size so far encountered within the pyramid. There was a large stone table in the center, some remains of long-ago rotted away furniture and tapestries along the walls, and a bit of pebbly rubble here and there on the floor. The ceiling seemed rough and uneven, not straight-cut like the rest of the place. It seemed uninhabited.

Taking just a cursory look at the room, the party grouped around the eastern door. It was locked, so Gaichu got to picking it. Soon after he started, Alva (who was standing watch) noticed something shifting on the ceiling. Six winged humanoids with coloration/texture of stone were flying down, long spears at the ready. She fired a three-round burst at one of them, but missed.

What followed was a relatively one-sided battle where the gargoyles rolled extremely poorly and didn’t manage to inflict any serious injury on the characters. Them actually being undead didn’t help either, it just protracted the fight due to Unliving. They kept their distance from the PCs by hovering while poking them with spears, all the while being whittled down relatively reliably by guns. There was an interesting bit, however. Alva decided to use her Judo Parry for her defenses, and started throwing the gargoyles into each other. While it didn’t do any significant damage, it resulted in a couple of them being grounded and even knocked down.

After the scuffle, they found a pouch containing some ancient coins on one of the gargoyles, and a tome bound in fur on another. It was written in common, but contained completely nonsensical content. The sentences contained words which had nothing to do with each other, and the group determined that it was surely written in code. Just which code, they couldn’t determine.

Gaichu eventually finished picking the door, and the party continued down the corridor which presented itself after taking a turn to the right directly beyond the door. Some 35 yards down there was a T intersection with the party coming down from the base. The right path took another right turn immediately, eventually leading to a door. Gaichu checked it for traps, finding tiny holes on the walls on each side of it. He found a triggering mechanism on the door “handle” and disabled it. After picking the lock, it turned out (as expected) that these were the south doors in the gargoyle room.

The remaining way from the T-intersection led down a corridor which started to wind several times after a while, leading to a metal portcullis revealing a large chamber to the north. A couple of the characters tried raising it with no success, but then 4-5 stepped up and did it almost effortlessly. The chamber beyond was similar in size to the previous one but the ceiling was much lower. A heavy stone door was on the west side, and a regular one on the east. It seemed to contain nothing of interest – some empty stone shelves, an empty fireplace, and some scratches on one of the walls. The group didn’t think much of it and proceeded to the east door. Not willing to wait for the rest, 4-5 attempted opening it but it was stuck, so he just bashed it open as many of the doors so far.

A roughly 8×15 room opened beyond. Unlike most of the pyramid so far, there was a soft magical glow within, almost producing the effect of a light fog. There were some niches in the walls, and a large stone tub against the east wall. North of the tub a “normal” stone door seemed to lead further. 4-5 approached the tub. It was filled with water! Upon closer inspection, he determined it was fresh water, filling the tub via thin, long incisions on its bottom, coming from some kind of an old plumbing system. He sampled the water and… critically failed Perception. There must have been some silicon-transmitted computer virus in that water, because he started seeing many-colored stars everywhere. He was useless for a while, and in the meantime the others searched the room. In one of the alcoves Gaichu found a small skeleton with an appropriately sized what appeared to be a polearm, specifically a horse cutter. It was of Fine quality and branded with an intricate design. While examining the skeleton they also found a pouch with a couple precious stones in it. The group determined that it did not in fact belong to a child but to a full-grown halfling instead.

While 4-5 was still indisposed, Gaichu took a look at the eastern door. He found a trap – a set of holes on each side of the door, presumably firing some kind of projectile once the tripwire before the door was triggered. He disabled it, and we ended the session there.

The session took place three weeks ago at the time of this writing, so that is one factor to me not writing out the undead gargoyle battle as detailed as the previous ones. The other is the fight being the first one against multiple opponents, and remembering which one of the monsters did what exactly each round would be impossible for me even directly thereafter. Since we play via voice, there are no detailed recordings of what took place.

I am also considering stopping doing such detailed writeups of sessions and producing just summaries, since I need about 2 hours per report. With life having kicked in after the first couple weeks of this blog, I’d rather spend that time on other things I’d like to write about (campaign/setting/rules ideas etc). But I don’t want to give it up just yet, since reading such detailed reports was one of the reasons I started this campaign after a long gaming hiatus, and the primary inspiration for starting this blog. So I’d like to give back.

Hidden Suns session 3: Itty Bitty Spider

Date: 2018-07-31

Player Characters (336 points):
ESA1000 45460 (4-5 for organics), humanoid engineering robot
Gaichu Koschei, android infiltrator/assassin
James Titus Kane, human legendary starship Captain of the Stewards Navy (retired)
Alva von Kirchess, aasimar diva / Captain of the Knights of Golarion (retired), breach and clear specialist

Notable NPCs:
Archibald Grey, renowned explorer

The session started with our intrepid band of explorers getting their bearings after crashlanding in one of the tropical valleys of Glacigneous. Only due to the skill of the legendary starship captain Jimmy Kane did they actually land in the general area where they originally wanted to land anyway.

Jimmy executed a rather smooth crashlanding, and most of the damage the ship suffered was actually due to the debris field when they exited the Drift. The sensor array was damaged but repairable in reasonable time, one of the cargo holds was badly damaged and needed to be sealed off if the group wanted to keep hostiles outside of the ship, but the most damage was taken by one of the two reactors and the reactionless drive. Both were damage beyond repair without notable replacement parts. While the ship still had enough power from the remaining reactor for basic operation, that did little good since it was unable to take off.

So 4-5 and Gaichu put their repair skills to work by stabilizing the ship as much as they could, Jimmy and Archibald spent some time with the comm systems trying to detect any transmissions in range, while Alva scouted out the immediate surroundings. She found no immediate danger, although she did spot tracks belonging to native humanoids and animals. There was also a fight between Alva and Jimmy about sending out a distress signal and who’s supposed to be in charge, but they resolved it as all other of their “old couple” fights. The distress signal was not activated in order to not draw any unwanted attention.

After setting up a perimeter, the group took to hoverbikes in order to deploy sensor probes at a pair of points in the valley, which would together with a probe deployed at the ship give them some nice sensor readings of the area. 4-5 and Gaichu rode on one bike with Jimmy riding on another. Alva remained back at the ship with Archibald.

The ride was… interesting. 4-5 managed to pilot his bike into some thick vegetation and a small pond. Jimmy was busy being surprised and laughing so he got clotheslined by a tree. Nobody suffered significant damage from their respective crashes and 4-5’s bike was banged up just a bit. He needed a couple of hours to fix it. The group was observed by a pack of man-sized dinosaur-like creatures for a while during that time, but the encounter didn’t escalate and the dinos eventually went their way. The party resumed their ride.

The first scanning point, on a bluff overlooking the plains was uninteresting. The probe did it’s thing and nothing eventful happened. The second point, in a jungle clearing, was reached much quicker than the first one, primarily due to no accidents along the way. After the scan, 4-5 and Gaichu noticed something glinting in a nearby tree. They approached it and took a look, the object apparently being some kind of a dagger stuck in where one of the higher branches was coming out of the trunk. Jimmy tried shooting the branch off with his gauss pistols but his needle-like ammo didn’t have much of an effect, so Gaichu blew it off with explosive plasma bolts from his crossbow. The dagger looked quite interesting and ornate.

After getting back to the ship and deploying the final probe there, the group transferred the scan data from the probes into the ship’s sensor computer. As it was processing the data, Gaichu summoned his cyberimp familiar Gregory who pulled out a tiny wrench and fixed 4-5 up, also healing Gaichu with a huge syringe. The sensor computer generated a nice 3D map of the valley and pointed out three locations containing artificial structures. One seemed to be some kind of an overgrown, abandoned jungle outpost, together with the remains of radar dishes and AA turrets. The other was the remains of two small spacecraft landed on the plains, while the final one was some kind of a four-sided stone pyramid, also in the jungle. The group weighted their options and decided to explore the pyramid first , with Archibald remaining on the ship to conclude the sensor array repairs.

The journey was uneventful, and took noabout an hour and a half with hoverbikes, primarily due to relatively difficult terrain. The group got off the bikes a couple hundred yards away from the pyramid, camouflaged them, and stealthily approached. It seemed unoccupied, and there was a single entrance at it base. It actually didn’t seem very large, something like 15 yards at the side and no more than two stories high. The entrance opened up into a hall some 10 yards on the side, with a staircase winding down along the walls. There was nothing but dust inside.

Descending, the party ended up in a series of underground corridors made of large blocks of dark stone. They were 2 yards wide for the most part. Bunches of small, phosphorescent mushrooms grew along the floor’s edges, providing dim greenish light. Not that it mattered since everyone had visors with infra- or hyperspectral vision. The place seemed undisturbed for a long time. Gaichu was uncomfortable, as the place seemed to be a low-mana zone. He took point, looking for traps, while Alva took the rear guard. Soon after exiting the staircase, there was a T-intersection. To one side there was a large stone door, while to the other the corridor continued on. The group chose to explore the side opposite to the door first.

After about 20 yards and a turn, there was a much smaller stone door. Gaichu didn’t find any traps, but it seemed stuck, so 4-5 stepped up and forced them open. Beyond there was a roughly 7×7 yard room. There were some small rocks in the walls glowing in a soft orange light, a large stone table, and some iron debris which on closer inspection proved to be the remains of a cauldron. The group sniffed around the room a bit discovering nothing special, and 4-5 took the iron. Opposite the door they came in through, on the south side, there was another similar stone door. It seemed locked so Gaichu started picking it, but 4-5 saw that as inefficient and simply bashed it open.

On the other side there was a snaking corridor, and after about 15 minutes of going down it while looking for traps, the group came to yet another T-intersection. The way forward seemed to end in a dead end after a couple of yards, while the way to the right seemingly led further. The dead end was suspicious to Gaichu who went ahead to investigate it. His hunch was correct – he found a door expertly concealed in wall construction! He started to check it for traps, but 4-5 seemed to have caught a bug from the last time and simply went and bashed it open. Beyond there was another 7×7 room, with a stone fountain and a flowing spring of water in the middle, as well as what seemed as ritual markings and spell components spread in a circle around it. Gaichu concluded that the fountain was used for summoning water elementals. Not wanting to mess with it, the group left the room, even though the scene felt somehow weirdly familiar to Alva (but she couldn’t peg anything concrete to it).

Following the remaining way forward from the last T-intersection, the party eventually arrived to a large, very sturdy looking stone door, similar to the one near the staircase. Gaichu found no traps on it, and 4-5 bashed it open. Beyond there was yet another 7×7 room (the builders must have had a thing for the number 7), empty except for a pyramidal stone pedestal against the opposing wall, on top of which what looked like an ornate stone staff rested. As the group approached, the pedestal transformed into some kind of a spider-like stone construct and attacked!

4-5 reacted first as always (due to his Enhanced Time Sense), and singed the spider slightly with his weaponized arc cutter. And then… Alva flipped out and started spraying the room with her gauss shotgun, including 4-5 and Gaichu who were in the line of fire between her and the spider. She has Phobia (Spiders). She missed Gaichu, but hit both the spider and 4-5. She didn’t manage to penetrate the spider’s stone hide, but inflicted a major wound to 4-5, who failed his dodge and drop roll. He at least managed to avoid the stunning. Gaichu fired a burst of plasma bolts into the spider, only managing to injure him slightly. The spider bit him twice with his mandibles, but he deftly parried the attacks while sidestepping out of Alva’s line of fire. Jimmy opened fire from behind with this dual heavy gauss pistols, managing to injure the spider the most of anyone so far.

4-5 crawled out of Alva’s cone of fire, and managed to shoot and singe the spider slightly. Alva continued spraying the room with her shotgun, with only the spider in her killzone this time, managing to injure it a bit this time. Gaichu bursted down the spider with plasma bolts again, and singed it a bit once more. The spider attacked him again, and Gaichu defended by parrying its attacks and retreating. Jimmy continued his modus operandi, but the spider managed to dodge a couple shots so he only injured it a bit.

Next round, 4-5 loaded in his gunnery program. Alva was still spraying the room, only this time, besides the spider which she missed, Gaichu was in her line of fire as well since he carelessly retreated right into it. As a result, he received a major wound in the back, fortunately passing the knockdown roll. He ran across the room outside of the killzone, reloading instantly with his Quick Reload and shooting the spider, but missing. The spider decided to jump on top of 4-5, who was still laying on his back on the floor. He tried to dodge but failed, with the spider biting him for a couple points of injury. Jimmy did another round of pistoleering, injuring the construct solidly.

Then, 4-5 shot the spider at point blank range with his plasma cutter, hitting with most of his 10 shots, splitting it in half. As the noise of the battle died down, only the clicking of Alva’s empty shotgun’s trigger could be heard.

The group decided to retreat from the pyramid’s underground level, back to the entrance chamber for healing (primarily motivated by Gregory having no penalties to his healing ability due to low mana). Once Gregory was summoned, being his usual mischievous self, he pulled out a circular saw while getting to work on 4-5. That freaked him out so much to refuse treatment and chug a dose of repair nanites instead (healing potion for robots, ergo not cheap). Greg was a bit more gentle with Gaichu, producing only a rubber glove for that purpose.

We decided to end the session there.

This was the first time when all 4 players could attend, and it was a very fun session. The friendly fire incident was hilarious, and it was a good thing I forgot to apply Suppression Fire when Gaichu retreated back into the killzone on his own turn, instead just applying it on Alva’s next turn. It could have been really, really bad that way.

Real life caught up with me, so my posting on the blog was nonexistent the last couple of weeks. In the meantime two additional sessions happened, which I hope to chronicle in the next couple of days. After that I have a campaign idea inspired by a game I’m playing currently I’d like to put to paper.

Hidden Suns session 2: Rough Sailing

Date: 2018-07-26

Player Characters (333 points):
ESA1000 45460 (4-5 for organics), humanoid engineering robot
Gaichu Koschei, android infiltrator/assassin
James Titus Kane, human legendary starship Captain of the Stewards Navy (retired)
Alva von Kirchess, aasimar diva / Captain of the Knights of Golarion (retired), breach and clear specialist

Notable NPCs:
Archibald Grey, renowned explorer

The session started with the PCs packing up for their expedition to the planet Glacigneous. They eventually made their way to one of the hangar bays, where Archibald was waiting for them with his ship. It was a small shuttle-class vessel, among the smallest types normally used for interstellar travel. It had a cockpit, a small cabin and medbay, a 4-bed bunkroom, some cargo space and a blaster turret on top. Archibald was just about done with loading it with his equipment as the party approached. They boarded, made themselves comfortable and didn’t dally a lot. They took off of the Wanderer and jumped into the Drift a couple minutes thereafter.

As soon as they entered the Drift, the alarms started blaring. Floating pieces of a hilly landscape could be seen around the ship, as well as four draconic-looking flying creatures twice the size of a man. Angrily swarming the ship. The drift drive seems to have ripped off a decent chunk of another plane.

Jimmy, who was already at the helm, started evasive maneuvers as the draconians’ intention was clearly to board the ship. Alva took the turret seat and started blasting while 4-5 manned the sensor console supporting her targeting efforts. The first shot missed its target, but none of the draconians could keep up with Jimmy either. The second shot turned its target into a pink mist, but one of the remaining three managed to latch onto the ship. Next shot was aimed at him, but he successfully dodged. Jimmy didn’t have much luck either and the remaining two draconians also latched on. The first draconian dodged another turret blast. Fortunately, that kept him from making any progress on ripping through the ship’s hull, which seemed to be their intention. Jimmy attempted to shake them off, but managed to lose only one. The third draconian started ripping through the hull. Alva finally managed to score a hit on the first latch-on, misting him. Jimmy managed to evade the airborne draconian, but the remaining latch-on got another round of hull-tearing. Alva tried to shoot him just as he was jumping into the ship, but he dodged. As he jumped down through the hull and into a corridor, Gaichu revealed himself from the shadows and shot him full of gauss crossbow bolts. Unfortunately, they didn’t penetrate his thick scales. Jimmy, on the other hand, managed to keep the remaining flyer at a distance. Next round, Jimmy managed to avoid the flyer the final time, as Alva blasted him out of existence.

The boarder, however, attacked Gaichu with two claw attacks and a bite. Gaichu dodged the claws and teleported himself a couple of hexes away to avoid the bite, simultaneously vanishing in the darkness. He striked right back, this time managing to damage the draconian. Alva and 4-5 both started running in the direction of the fight, but Alva had to fetch her shotgun first. The boarder repeated his attack pattern against Gaichu, who also repeated his defenses and the vanishing act. His crossbow burst, unfortunately, again failed to pierce the target. 4-5 arrived to the fighting area, in the opposite side of the corridor where Gaichu was currently in relation to the draconian. He drew his modified plasma cutter. The draconian did a claw-claw-bite against Gaichu, who once again dodged and teleported away from his attacks, but this time not vanishing into the shadows and ending up between the draconian and 4-5. He shot the draconian with a variety of ammo using his Dial-a-Round, unfortunately to no avail even though most of them hit.

Alva finally reached the fight and shot a burst from her gauss shotgun into the draconian, who unfortunately dodged all of the hits. The draconian once again attacked Gaichu to no avail, who started reloading his crossbow. 4-5 loaded his Beam Weapons program into his Computer Brain. Alva fired another salvo, but the bullets did not penetrate even though the draconian didn’t dodge. The draconian performed yet another series of attacks against Gaichu, who yet again successfully evaded them all. He finished his reloading and threw himself with his back to the floor. 4-5 finally shot the draconian with his modified plasma cutter, over Gaichu, but the draconian dodged the beam. Alva emptied the remainder of her clip into the draconian, again to no avail. The draconian wasn’t successful in hitting Gaichu either, who shot him with a full RoF worth of tranquilizer bolts. Unfortunately, for the couple which did penetrate its DR, it passed its HT rolls. 4-5 shot and missed yet again. Alva started reloading and the draconian flailed once more in Gaichu’s general direction without success. Gaichu shot another burst of tranq rounds, this time bringing the behemoth down. They finished him off with a starknife to the base of the skull, and after Gaichu took some trophies, they dumped the body into the Drift.

After spending a couple hours patching the hole in the hull, the company continued their flight. The six days of travel through the Drift were otherwise uneventful. Gaichu and 4-5 maintained each other.

Upon exiting the Drift into realspace, the alarms blared once again. The ship was in the middle of a debris field. Jimmy started with evasive maneuvers immediately, with Alva and 3-4 assisting him by manning the sensors. Even with his piloting skills, the ship took a lot of damage in the 5 or so minutes until he managed to get her out. Three sections were disabled: part of the cargo bay, one of the two reactors, and the reactionless drive. Oops. And they were already in Glacigneous’ gravity well. Double oops. 4-5 and Gaichu scrambled to keep the drive at even a semblance of being operational so that Jimmy could crash-land instead of just crash. Entry into the atmosphere was tense. But Jimmy is a great pilot, so he managed to crash-land in the region where they were intending to land in the first place. Even though the ship otherwise suffered minimal damage during the crash landing, the sensor array was busted but much less than the reactor and drive.

After the dust settled and everyone came to, they surveyed their position and assessed the damage. But that is already the story of the next session.

The draconian actually did start to use Deceptive Attack after missing Gaichu during the first round of their combat, but Gaichu’s first three defenses in a round are coincidentally almost a sure thing. Especially when they’re against a single opponent and he can step back. He still was lucky though. A couple of hits from that thing would have been bad news. Had more than one managed to board… well, things wouldn’t have been pretty at all.

For those interested, here’s the writeup of Archibald’s shuttle. It’s a SM +7 vessel, and I didn’t bother writing down any stats beyond the sections since they were irrelevant to the game.

Front Hull

  • [1] Light Alloy Armor
  • [2] Control Room
  • [3] Defensive ECM
  • [4] Enhanced Array
  • [5-6] Habitat (cabin, 1-person medbay, bunkroom)

Central Hull

  • [1] Light Alloy Armor
  • [2!] Major Battery (turret with light particle beam)
  • [3-6] Cargo Hold (15 tons)
  • [core!] Light Force Screen

Rear Hull

  • [1] Light Alloy Armor
  • [2] Hangar Bay (10 tons)
  • [3] Engine Room
  • [4-5] Fusion Reactor (4 PP total)
  • [6!] Standard Reactionless
  • [core!] Stardrive

Design Features

  • Streamlined Hull
  • Artificial Gravity
  • Gravitic Compensators
  • Total Automation (Engine Room)
  • Winged