Tuesday, October 7, 2014

No Beast So Fierce Playtest (Uther's Diary and Sturm's Log part 1)


Uther's Diary 

Dear Diary,

Gods that sounds awful.  Still, I've got to start somehow, and since this is only intended for myself than it's as good a start as any, I suppose.  I'm writing this more to try to set my thoughts in order than for posterity, than to win any literary awards.  Hell, I'll probably be mortally embarrassed if anyone else should happen to actually read it.


I've been in combat before.  In my time first traveling and learning about the stair with Ilsa we had more hairy encounters than I like to think about.  Mostly though they were things or situations we simply blundered into, and our primary thought was to extricate ourselves while we were still mostly intact.  Our technique has improved over time, but stepping through unknown doors still involves a great deal of risk.

Today was different.  Today I elected to boldly go into harm's way.  (Hmm.  I think I split an infinitive there.  I wonder if the stair translates bad grammar into whatever language the locals speak, assuming they even have something resembling grammar.  I wonder how I'd even find out.  I wonder if linguists go crazy not being able to actually listen to the local language.  Something to worry about another day.)

Four years at one of Drake's academies has taught me a lot, although I suspect Ilsa would still put me in the category of someone who 'knows enough to be dangerous to himself.'  I can't say that real world experience has led me to disagree with this.  I think my attitude going in was this would be like another training exercise I could breeze through with a minimum of forethought and planning.  I was wrong.

Instead of going in as a unit, we waltzed in as a gang of individuals, with no clear concept of leadership or plan of attack.  The unknown nature of the threat encouraged this somewhat, but we still should have made some assessment of our various abilities and assessed potential individual vulnerabilities and planned how to compensate.

Equipment was another example of short sighted planning.  I know I simply picked up a plasma rifle so I could blow away some bad guys, depending on my own personal armor to protect me.  No one gave any thought to equipping everyone with communications gear, enhanced vision equipment, or simple body armor for those who had no protection of their own.  I know I didn't pack an medical field kit, again relying on my own personal armor and not considering the rest of the team.  Again, despite all our academy training, we're still thinking and acting as individuals.

I'm not sure if talking the mission over with Uncle Cedric beforehand would have helped with any of this.  I believe there are some lessons which can only really be learned though experience, particularly lessons learned from making mistakes.  The trick is to survive those mistakes, and if this mission ends really badly I don't want one of my mistakes to have been involving my uncle in the planning for a mission which was only a technicality away from a direct breech of Drake's orders.  I owe him that much.

The exit through the door could have gone better.  Sturm, as expected, charged through and engaged their heavy hitter.  Lacking any Gossamer effecting ability I broke off to the side and started distracting as much of the remaining opposition as I could.  They were obliging enough to follow, and I danced the dance with them, using their tendency to ignore ordinance littering the field from an earlier battle to inflict damage on them from the sides and back while their defenses were focussed forward to ward attack from my plasma rifle.  I was slightly surprised that I didn't get any support against these guys, but it turned out I didn't really need it and the others were mostly working to determine the nature of the opposition, which was a major reason for our coming here in the first place.

By this time a large wall had been erected between us and the large number of hostile reinforcements en-route.  The legionnaires who had been fighting near the door when we came though had abandoned their mecha and attempted to flee through the door once they became aware of us not knowing the door had been sealed immediately after we came through.  It was a fatal mistake on their part, not to mention our loosing a chance at gaining local intelligence.  I hate to think the kind of hell they must have been living through to risk their lives on such a slim hope of escape.

Sturm and the others were still engaged with their heavy hitter, leaving it to me to arrange our own departure plans before the enemy reinforcements arrived.  Focussing my thoughts through Falmorath I molded Gossamer, turning the drone (now minus the Icon and associated apparatus) into a conveyance capable of carrying the lot of us out of the immediate vicinity of the door.  The overloaded vehicle wasn't going to be able to reach any great altitude, but I intended flying nap-of-the-earth to stay out of line of sight of the approaching enemy anyway.  By now everyone else was ready to go, the enemy heavy hitter was now busy firing at the rest of the enemy reinforcements and effectively covering our retreat.  Along with the mecha this turned out to be another potential intelligence asset lost, although I'm not sure how we could have brought any of them with us.

Our destination was a place of power located out of sight to the south of the door.  It turned out to be a temple dedicated to a great Master of the Stair whose design and layout reflected some of the tracery of the eidolon.  A recorded tourist greeting has been hacked by Soma-sota to inform visitors that the enemy will not attack the temple, although if silence is not maintained inside they will send troops to deal with the desecrators.  We split up.  I stay outside and scan the structure for any Doors while some of the others go inside.  A wave of over-pressure warns of the imminent arrival of a cruise missile.  We bolt inside the temple, barely ahead of a blast which disintegrates everything outside the temple walls.  Another almost fatal bit of arrogance on our part, assuming the opposition didn't know where we had gone and weren't going to bother dealing with us.

Mena has been in touch with Baudemagus via his icon.  He thanked us for the intelligence we gave him so far and suggested getting in touch with the Soma-sota's forces via the communications gear of legionnaires who had been fighting by the door.  That would be in the mecha we abandoned.  Or in the drone left just outside the temple and now destroyed.

Cyra manages to put together a spell and retrieves the mecha.  Over the emergency channel we're receiving a message from a prisoner, the head of the unit which had been fighting by the gate when we arrived.  Stored in the mecha is an emergency rescue plan in case anyone is stupid enough to try to rescue a prisoner from the enemy stronghold.  Stored in the mecha which the enemy has had the access and time to compromise.  The enemy has taken no noticeable action against us since destroying our one piece of uncompromised local communications gear.  The situation has trap written all over it, yet this prisoner may be essential to successfully completing our mission, and the clock is ticking.

We've been lucky so far.  If we don't get better coordinated soon, that luck may run out.

Sturm's Log

The Team:
·       Oberleutnant Sturm von Krieg the warrior (Joab)
·       William Edwalton the scientist (Greg)
·       Jane Edwalton the explorer (Jenna)
·       Mena the traveler (Steph)
·       Uther the gatherer (Dave)
·       Cyra the sorceress (Mike)
·       Assieh the demi-goddess (Miranda)

Session 1:  9/21/2014
·       Baudemagus, the Legate of the 150th Legion, appeared at the academy in Area 51, Nevada.
·       The world of Fierce was a low-magic party world for the lords of Gossamer.  Advanced tech existed on Fierce that did not work on other worlds.  And there was no tradition of sorcery and magic on Fierce.
·       A year ago, Eidolon powered cyber soldiers appeared and attacked the inhabitants.
·       Soto-sama, commander of one of Drake's legions and a Fierce native, and her legion engaged the Cyber-Naki to stop the genocide.
·       Drake ordered the world abandoned.  Soto-sama refused to leave, and her 1st cohort, the First Fangs, stayed and were sealed in.  The last communication was that they were attempting to leave, but they never arrived.
·       Drake ordered the door sealed and declared Soto-sama and her legion as traitors.  No further news was heard from Fierce.
·       Yesterday, Soto-sama's legate, Baudemagus, received a message from Soto-sama that the evacuation was a disaster.
·       Since he is forbidden from sending Legionnaires to investigate, he has recruited eight gifted academy seniors to do a recon as they are not yet members of a legion.
·       This is all the information that Baudemagus has. 
·       He gave them each Soto-sama's icon, one of his own, and maps of Fierce.

Baudemagus asked them some questions:
·       What were you before joining the academy?
·       Asiah was advisor to the pharoah of her realm.  Uther was gathering information of the previous Gossamer war.
·       William was a fellow of the Royal Society (scientist).
·       Jane was also a fellow of the Royal Society (explorer).
·       Cyra was a hacker/sorceress.
·       Sturm has been a soldier from birth.
·       Mena was a traveller.
·       Goals?
·       Mena - hone skills
·       Stum - glory for the red
·       Cyra - root the universe
·       Jane - knowledge
·       William - science!
·       Uther - gathering specific information for a patron
·       Assieh - improve the lot of her people
·       Where did you come from?
·       Mena - does not talk about it
·       Sturm - the death world of Krieg
·       Cyra - the Mars colony of a future high-tech Earth
·       Jane - start of enlightment alternate Earth
·       William - start of enlightment alternate Earth
·       Uther - an alternate 1920's Earth
·       Assieh - Calashar, the home of the aliens who actually did visit the ancient Egyptians

·       Mena, Assieh and Sturm raided the academy weapons locker to sign out training weapons.  They acquired full body armor, plasma rifles, two-handed swords, combat knives, and a hover gunship armed with missles and plasma cannons.
·       Mena informed her home mentor to inform him of her assignment.  He said it was an excellent opportunity.
·       Cyra informed her parents.  Cyra's mother has been to Fierce before.  She said it was similar to the training Earth.  There was a meteor strike that introduced metallic hydrogen, which was the key their advanced technology.  She had heard about cybernetic soldiers, but they were not new to Fierce.  However, those soldiers were not powered by the Eidolon.  These cyber-soldiers could probably operate on the stair, and she is glad that someone is being sent to investigate because she thinks Drake's plan of isolation is misguided.  She wants to know how they were empowered by the Eidolon and why they are called the Cyber-Naki.
·       Jane learned that the door is in the northwest corner of the island housing city of No, which is the site where the meteor fell millenia ago.  The door is all that remains following the endless fighting between the Cyber-Naki and the defenders.
·       Soto-sana was holding the door as a means of escape, but there is no indication that the Cyber-Naki have every tried to go through the door.

·                 They headed for the door, past eight other doors on that side:  Broke World, Imperia, Nightmare Kingdom, Tetsugen Shogunate, Stratospheria, Verse Arcanum, Ossuary Empire, and Nexopolis.  The door to Fierce is next.  The door beyond fierce is Finisterrae, the last battlefield, also known as the Last Earth.  No living soul of that world remains along with soldiers from a thousand other worlds, as well as the remains of their Dwimmerlaik foes.
·                 They left the gunship behind.
·                 Uther, Jane and Cyra all got impressions from the door.  They got a sense of a threatening environment on the other side.  Natives and non-Natives of fierce are present of the other side, as well as Eidolon influence and the presence of an icon. 
·                 Uther also sensed the presence of Edward, a cadet who graduated when he first entered the academy.  There are at least four non-native beings in close proximity to the door, who are not Eidolon infused, but the Eidolon is rapidly approaching.  The signals from the icons do not seem any stronger than at the academy.
·                 Cyra noted a small sense of Soto-sama, a ward of sorcery in the distance, and an extremely powerful sense of tiny pieces of the Eidolon.  She also got a sense of a place dedicated to a powerful Master of the Grand Stair who was not a Gossamer lord.
·                 Baudemagus unsealed the door with the instruction to go through quickly so he can seal the door, and use the icon to contact him to open the door again.

·                 There is a crashed ship shooting a beam toward an icon card.  There were four armored beings on the ground.  One was trying to recover the icon while the other three were shooting at flying Cyber-Naki shooting at them.
·                 Assieh identified that one of the flying entities is vulnerable.
·       Sturm went through the door first, stepped out of the doorway, and shot the identified entity with a plasma bolt.  He shot it through the head, and it plummeted out of the air as a tiny bolt of light flew out of its midsection.
·       Mena identified it as a piece of perfect Eidolon and grabbed at it to bring it to her.
·       Jane held back to assess the situation.
·       William edited one of the flying creatures to not have wings and flew off.
·       Uther entered and used his weapon to distract the enemies from the other team members.  Most of the Cyber-Naki landed and focused on him.  One, who looked different from the others, held back and directed two others toward the icon again.

·       They were assaulted by the Cyber-Naki.  Assieh, Jane, Mena were hit by kinetic weapons built into their armor.  Assieh's Umbra consumed her bullets.  Mena's Eidolon deflected all the shots.  Jane hid behind Sturm, who took the hits to protect her.  Jane then raised a protection of her own.
·       One of the two that were redirected back to icon reached out and a small torrent of lava onto one of the defenders whose armor disappeared and was reduced to ash.
·       It was clear to Sturm that the Cyber-Naki are intent on recovering the icon from the myriad defenders, whose corpses are lying all around.  Seven Cyber-Naki put the red type remain in the immediate vicinity, but ore are coming.
·       Off in the distance, Jane could see a tall intact structure to the east with multi-colored glass from which a lot of the Cyber-Naki are coming.  To the south, Jane could detect a sanctuary to the south of a Master of the Grand Stair.

·       Sturm shot the outcropping above the lava-shooting Cyber-Naki and buried it under tons of stone.
·       Jane grabbed the icon with blinding speed and returns for cover.
·       The Cyber-Naki that fell to the ground advance rapidly.  They drew Eidolon enhanced swords and fired their kinetic weapons.  the defenders abandoned their mech suits and tried to flee though the door, though it was closed again.  There are no three empty mech suits.
·       Uther continued to draw their fire.  He could see their their Eidolon Defense was focused to the front and detonates unexploded ordinance behind them and destroys them.
·       The Cyber-Naki returned fire and slaughtered the unarmored former defenders.  The team's defenses protected them.
·       Cyra noted a magical presence in the drone the icon is on and took it and then took cover.  Sturm determined that the drone had been flying around to prevent it from being targeted while sending its message.
·       William strengthened reality and one side of the building reappeared and was strengthened against the incoming Cyber-Naki assault.
·       Assieh determined that the light inside the red Cyber-Naki has no trace of Umbra in them.  She affected the environment around it to make it vulnerable.
·       Mena used Eidolon Mastery to make the liquid in it solid into a perfect statue, but she was unable to defeat its defense.

·       Mena's eyes suddenly became perfect and her brain was overcome by sensory blindness.  She sent Mindel to attack him physically.
·       Sturm sprinted to one end of the wall and saw the red attacking Mena with an Eidolon beam, but did not appear to hit him.  There was some tech protecting him, but the beam attack was suspended.
·       Uther assessed the escape options.  He determined that he could reassemble the drone to affect the team's escape from the engagement zone.
·       Jane retrieved the rifle that was next to the icon.
·       Cyra mind-blasted the red Cyber-Naki.  It then restarted and began shooting at the incoming Cyber-Naki.
·       William perfected the red Cyber-Naki's programming.  Sturm saw the tiny light fly off toward the southeast toward the Grand Stair Master's enclave.

·       Uther molded the downed drone into an escape vehicle.  The team mounted and prepared to depart.
·       There was a massive explosion and a building falls on top of several of the incoming flyers.
·       They travelled to the enclave and found a bizarre, white temple blending Asian mythology of demons and such, bearing an image of Soto-sama.  Around the building was a moat contain the sculptures of myriad hands. The image said that speaking inside the building attracts the Cyber-Naki, but they do not want to damage the structure.  The building has an almost perfect Eidolon presence.  The only Umbra present was in the pit of the damned.

·       Uther hypothesized that there might be another door in the building.  However he did not detect one.
·       Sturm stayed to defend Mena and Assieh.
·       Asssieh scryed impending danger.
·       Mena contacted Baudemagus and reported in.  He identified the temple and suggested using the tech to contact other members of the cohort.
·       Sturm detected the presence of an incoming cruise missile.  He grabbed Assieh and Mena and dragged them into the building.
·       Uther saw the missile hit and convert everything in the blast zone convert into perfect dust.  Then the little light flew off back to the southeast.
·       Inside the temple are scenes of popular heroes fighting their nemeses.  In the center of the building is a giant statue of a goddess where Buddha would normally be sitting.  Mena advised being respectful of Kenti Iomenta, the Lady of Silence, a fifth stage Usari.  She said that speaking within the temple attracted the cyber-naki.
·       Cyra hacked into the tech he took from the drone.  She identified that it was being used to broadcast the message to any other icons. 
·       Uther tried to send a message and determined that it was being blocked.  But he did detect a brief presence.  He detected no doors in the image he saw.
·       They went to one of the outbuildings to talk.  They discussed options.
·       From the top of the pagoda, they could see a flashing neon sign to the west saying "the Paralax" with an arrow pointing to a stair going down to a nightclub.  To the direct south was an amusement park where some of the rides were still functioning.  To the east was a large body of water with an aquarium and a water park on the top of the plateau.  Most of the surroundings look like a battle zone except for these things. 
·       Sturm hypothesized that a retreating army would go to the nightclub as it was underground.
·       According to the maps, there was a market south of the amusement part, but there was a symbol next to it in an unknown language.  They speculated that the aquarium might be used to grow food, that the amusement park indicated a functioning  power source.
·       Cyra prepared her spells and teleported the three mech suits back to the temple complex.  She noted a figure observing the suits before taking them.  Then she hacked the systems.  She heard a repeating message through the comm systems stating that a male speaker named Jonathan had been captured and was being held in the basement of the Hydrasteel building.  She assessed the authenticity of the message and determined that the frequency used was recognized by the suits as authentic from the legion.
·       Jonathan was the name of the cadet Uther had recognized from the door.
·       Cyra replied to the message and asked to report his condition.  Jonathan said that he was able to voice activate his comm unit and send the message, but that he was bound and that it was otherwise dark.  He asked what happened to his squad.  When asked of they normally take prisoners, he said that they used the prisoners for organic parts.  He said that it was not normal to bring prisoners to the Hydrosteel building.
·       Cyra followed the transmission and located the mech suit, which was located at the location of the Hydrosteel building and a level below Jonathan.
·       The mech suit had an escape plan programmed in.  It appeared to be prepared by Soto-sana.  It warned against making rescue attempts, but attempted anyway, to use the subbasement.  The same message was found in the suits the team had acquired.

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