The Fearless – Session 5

Vome Convoy… (from Horizon Zero Dawn)

This session had me excited. We were going to test out the travel rules from “Perilous Wilds” while the little expedition headed out across the Rust Plains.
All I had to start was the map, the notes about the atlas hexes (G2, H3) and the random tables from Freebooters on the Frontier 2e. I knew that encounters close to Ship-Hold would be human(ish) or natural, while deeper into the Plains we’ll get Vomes and other strangeness…

The party, with Sora heavily loaded with supplies, heads south along the Hi-Way. They wind their way between the rusted shells of Before-Time wrecks and look down upon the dusty plains filled with shrubs and rocks. Dawn pushes them all to make good speed, and sends Korag ahead to look out for possible problems. List tries to share tales of the Rust Plains, (know something: 9) but only really remembers some stories of the mechanical-beasts that roam the plains eating rock and metal.
(Set out: 3 -> blocked by an obstacle)
Perilous Wilds: danger -> human (travelling, neutral, neutral, horde 3d6 [7])(Korag – do their thing : 6)
The group is happily walking along, but when they come over a ridge they see a group of raggedly dressed nomads holding Korag at knife point. “Give us your food, or we’ll eat your friend”
Syn pulls out her cleaver immediately, and List hides behind her, but Dawn and Conrad scan the surroundings (Perceive 9) and catch sight of a few badly camouflaged Nomads hiding behind scrubs and rusty piles. She motions for everyone to put down their weapons. “Go play nice Syn, try to talk them down!”
Syn carefully puts away her cleaver and walks closer, trying to get a better look at the nomads. Korag looks as apologetic as he can while being held at knifepoint. “Hey, there is no need to threaten. Let him go and we can all talk about this.” (Perceive: 5)
The Nomad behind Korag pulls on the bindings and puts his knife up to the dog-man’s throat. “Don’t come any closer! Drop all your stuff and we’ll let you live”.

Syn lets out a scream “FUUUUUUUCK YOOOOOOU” (no guts no glory: 8 +1 armor, only interested in her) 
Korag is pushed to the ground as the Nomad leaps forward. The others all start running forward too.
Syn (fight: 14, mettle gives +str damage) Kills the leader in one blow!
(Check moral: 8, cautious) The other nomads are taken aback at the sudden death of their leader. Dawn and Conrad come up to back up Syn. She messily pulls out the cleaver and lets the body of the nomad leader drop to the ground with an audible crack. “So, is it time for you to scurry away now?” (negotiate+str+help: 14) The Bandits slowly back away until well out of reach, and then run.

List – “well, that was silly getting caught mr Guide. I thought you knew this area. Whats going on?” (guide know nomads: 14) “they were starving and desperate. Normally we should have been able to talk. Things are getting more desperate out here. Lets get off the road and find a nice place for the night”
Make camp – 5 rationsKeep company – List&Syn: Both “geek out” about food – how to prepare, pull apart animals etc.
Pass the night (3 watches, List&Conrad, Dawn&Sora, Syn&Korag) Creature finds camp. 2nd watch (Vome Grazers)
Dawn and Sora see a trio of armoured creatures sniffing around their camp – giant semi-mechanical crabs – They hunker down and hope the creatures just wander off (Save +LCK: 4) One of the Crab-Vomes wanders over towards the campsite, obviously sensing something interesting. Dawn picks up a rock and throws it – trying to distract it away from the camp (save +dex: 7) The Creature pauses, standing high on 6 legs and scanning around. (React:10) It spots Dawn and looks at Sora cowering in the background. It backs away a few steps, watching carefully before moving to join its companions.

Day 2

Everyone wakes up fairly refreshed. 
They go over the ration situation – they have enough food for maybe 4 days. Then people will be going hungry. They might be able to make it to the Fortress-Monastery in that time to buy food there, but then realise that they don’t actually have enough coin among them to buy enough food to continue. They ask Korag about places to find food (know something: 13) “If we keep going south we’ll get to the grasslands. They are swathes of green – plants, animals. The ground is alive again. But we need to watch out for the Violent Machines – Vomes. They guard the area and get really angry when you interfere.” We should also be pushing faster if possible.
Dawn considers the crab-things she saw in the night, but they can’t return to Ship-Hold empty handed, so going on is the only way. 
Sadly, the road actually bridges a bunch of ravines and rough ground, so to head off-road they need to actually scout around to find a useful path. Korag and Dawn head off and try to find an easy path south. (Do their thing+help: 9) They come back in the early afternoon, Dawn is shaking from the exertion, but they have found an easy way through – so they all head south.

Moving into unsafe areas, Conrad is keeping a weather eye out for danger. (Set out unsafe: 8-creature) (stay sharp:9)
Conrad comes running back in the afternoon – “Careful! We’ve got company ahead! Vome pack”. 
Looking around at the scattered rocks and struggling flora, the group decided to try to go to ground. List (with the help of Korag) directs the others to try and break up their outlines as much as possible – scattering their gear in various potholes and with rocks. (Int save: 9) A trio of small two legged cyclops Vomes with long necks is looking around, guarding a larger crab creature. One looks interested in a pile of rocks where the supplies were hidden. List is already feeling bad away from the comforts of the academy, and dreads the idea of loosing the supplies. “We can take them!” He takes out his device (aka. spell/magic device -wave of life) and thinks it can perhaps overload the “living” parts of the machine. He fiddles with it a moment and points it at the investigating Vome Watcher. (Use device: 9 burn luck 10) The Vome shakes and jitters. The other two turn at the sound and make querying noises. 
Dawn directs Korag to take a shot at one of the distracted Vomes (volley: 11) 5 damage. He aims and shoots – One vome’s head explodes and it falls. The others look confused and raise their heads to look around. 
Syn and Conrad run forward yelling at the now confused (scared?) Vome Watcher. (Fight+help: 13 – +mettle str dam) Together they chop into its neck and it falls twitching.

List, excited, runs forward and tries to poke the eye of the recovering Vome. (Fight: 3) He bangs it across the head a few times, but it disembowls him with a kick and gets to its feet. (D4 damage:4) List falls to the ground bleeding and failing to hold his intestines in.(Dead…1). The Vome sees Syn and Conrad attacking its companion.

The large Crab-Vome swivels and sees its companions in trouble. It raises it’s claw and charges at Syn. She tries to get out of the way but is bashed off her feet. Conrad hacks at its legs and behind trying to distract it from Syn (fight: 8) 4, but it spins around rapidly and swipes him off his feet with its giant claw.

Dawn tells Korag “cover us” and runs in to help Syn and Conrad.
Korag takes a shot at the Vome Watcher about to jump on them (shoot: 8, 3 dam) The shot pierces the chest and the lights go out and it collapses on Conrad. The Crab sees the shot and swivels to face Korag – it raises its claw as a shield and dashes towards him.

Syn screams and jumps on the Crab as it passes. (No guts: 8 – +1armor +target) She starts hacking into its joints as it struggles to reach up and scrape her off. (Fight: 8) Conrad and Sora look on as the Crab spins and flails trying to get Syn off it’s back. Syn is hacking away with her cleaver, but it just leaves scratches in the shell.

Korag finishes reloading, and takes aim for the “face” of the crab – (shoot: 7) The shot hits the shell but only leaves a scratch – and while he was concentrating the last remaining Vome Watcher pounces on him (d4 damage: 3) and leaves him broken on the rocks. (dead.. 2)

Sora sees the others struggling with the Crab-Machine, and decides to make a grab for the rifle. She sneaks up on the Vome-Watcher (dex save: 10) and manages to get in a position to fight. She jump at it and tries to break its neck (fight: 7) In the struggle she manages to pull it to the ground and crack its neck, but as the adrenalin drains away she looks down to see her lifes-blood pouring out of the giant gash in her stomach. (dead…3)

Both Conrad and Dawn watch Syn crawling on the across the back of the Crab-thing going for it’s head. They hack at the legs while Syn gets her knife from her belt and aims under the shell into the delicate face. (Dex save: 8) The Crab wails and spins, it’s claw lashing out at Conrad and slicing him in two. (Dead..4)… Everyone freezes as the Crab starts to wail.. Turning left and right – obviously blinded. Dawn sees the rifle lying between the dead bodies in the rocks and runs over to get it, while Syn tries to avoid the claw (dex save: 5) and is swept off the shell and onto the ground infront of the Monster. She waits for the claw to crush her.

Instead, it hunkers down – multiple legs digging into the ground until only the top of the shell is showing above the ground. The two survivors look at each other in shock.. “Is the shell, glowing?” Indeed it is. Syn gives it a cautious poke with her cleaver – and it practically bounces off.
“Great. Its dug in now. We don’t have anything to break that shell, especially not now.”
They look at the Vomes they had downed. Syn and Dawn co-operate and spend the afternoon dissecting one of the creatures. (Perceive: 13) They manage to pull out two devices – one which includes the single eye, and another which was wired to the spine. The Spine-box is emitting a low warble that reminds Syn of the sound the crab made. As they bring the device closer to the Crab, the sound gets louder.

Dawn is suspicious and looks around (stay sharp: 4) and notices three wolf-like machine heads staring at them from the hills. “Shit, it called for help”
The three hunter-vomes started to circle them, trapping them with the crab-machine – which chose that moment to unbury itself and start wildly flailing its claw.

The players decided to call it there. The consensus was that this was a fine final image for our fearless adventurers. They believed that having 4 die to the 3 scout-vomes was indicative of a worse fate for the two battered survivors against the machine-wolves.
The agreement was that the final battle was epic and full of tense decisions and action. List’s player blamed himself for the outcome we could have just stayed hidden and taken the loss of gear
But that said, there was some measure of disappointment with the PbtA system. Given that the only other game the players had encountered before was D&D 5e, they found the character sheets to “not represent the characters” and there wasn’t a feeling of actually exploring and the repercussions appearing on the sheet. But they really want to keep exploring.

To that end we decided to pick up with new characters in the “Forbidden Lands” system. (The decision was finalised when we found out there was a random character generator!)

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