Second Playtest Report
Continuing from the events described earlier.
Fisher and Caracol Vus moved furniture in front of the damaged front door of the manor house after Caedmyn came back inside. Grayden checked on Lady Isaltha. She was unconscious and muttering something almost incoherent: “circle, green, em, water… circle, green, em, water…”
Meanwhile, her henchmen, Brune and Drast did not leave, and instead argued beside their wagon, clearly unsure if they should follow the commands given by Fisher’s illusionary noblewoman.
Fisher took the nearly unconscious, delirious Isaltha to rest in one of the bedrooms upstairs. As he did, she kept demanding to know where she was, and who he was. Fisher, ever quick with deception, told her he was a physician. In her confusion, Isaltha mentioned something about Tichronus’ study–revealing her true goal for getting into the manor house.
While the two glaives guarded the entrance, fearing a return of the henchmen, Caedmyn and Fisher searched the study. It took effort, but behind some books in a bookcase they found a metal control panel of ancient design. The buttons on it were marked with strange, unknown symbols, but they were able to discover that one looked vaguely like a circle, only one button was green, one resembled a stylized letter “M” and one had some wavy lines that suggested water. Caedmym pushed these in the order that Isaltha had said, and a section of the study floor disappeared directly beneath Fisher’s feet! His quick reflexes saved him from falling as he leapt out of the way.
Through this opening, the two saw a room below with organic structures covering the walls with large green eggs nested among these structures. At this point, Grayden joined them in the study, and tied a rope to a wall fixture there, lowering it down the hole. Caedmyn, graceful and acrobatic, lowered herself easily into the weird chamber, alive with wet, pulsing tissue and glowing eggs almost as large as herself. Grayden followed her down, but Fisher would have none of it.
Which was perhaps for the best. Because Brune and Drast marched back up to the door, and demanded to talk to Isaltha again. Caracol Vus called for Fisher, who crafted an illusion of the noblewoman again. The illusion spoke to them, reassuring them that everything was going according to plan and that they needed to find lodging. Finally convinced, the two henchmen took the wagon and left.
Meanwhile, Caedmyn heard a woman’s voice coming from a circular tunnel leading off into the darkness. Soon, a woman with alabaster skin shuffled into the egg chamber. She spoke to them in a language they did not understand, but her porcelain lips did not move and her face showed no expression. Caedmyn told Grayden that she was clearly an automaton, and the telepathic Grayden informed Fisher and Caracol Vus. Caracol Vus began climbing down the rope to join them.
Fisher would still have no part of it.
The all-white, animate statue lunged toward Grayden, hands outstretched. As she approached, he could see that her ceramic flesh was covered in cracks, from which some kind of thick liquid oozed. This viscous discharged had dried in many places on her shell-like skin, and where it did, a violet fungus grew, which carried with it a stench that the glaive and nano knew to be not just foul, but likely poisonous.
Battle was joined, with Grayden wielding his massive hammer, Caracol Vus charging forward with his trusty blade, and Caedmyn backing them up with bursts of concentrated force “conjured” through the use of esotery. After a harrowing battle, the effective team reduced the automaton to pieces of white ceramic, although within this shell they found a metallic green heart from which the woman’s voice still issued.
Grayden used his mental abilities to speak with the heart.
“I must protect the nursery!” It said telepathically.
Grayden tried to get more information, but it was difficult to communicate with the alien, artificial mind he found himself conversing with.
“If I cannot protect the nursery, we must create another,” it told him.
From behind Caedmyn, one of the eggs burst a sudden aperture, and from within came a serpentine tendril. It grabbed around her, latching onto the back of her neck. Caracol Vus moved to help, attempting to grab the writhing thing, and other attacked him. Grayden saw that these assailants, which had first appeared to be serpents, were in fact more like human spinal columns given a rapid, slithering mobility of their own. He grabbed both of his friends and dragged them out of the egg-filled room and into the circular passage. But not before the thing attached to Caracol Vus not only grasped his neck, but fused with his spine.
“Events are now set in motion,” the heart told Grayden.
Fisher ran to the kitchen to find anything flammable he could find.
Neither Caedmyn nor Caracol Vus felt any pain. In fact, the things attaching to them felt pleasant. But Caedmyn still used a careful burst of force to loosen the thing on her so that Grayden could tear it off. This, unfortunately, inflicted a great deal of pain and damage to her. Luckily, she had a small healing elixir with her.
For Caracol Vus, however, it was too late. The thing had completely fused with his spine. The small group didn’t know what to do.
Caedmyn pulled out a small cypher that was effectively a bomb of raw force. She threw it into the egg chamber, shredding most of the room, including the eggs. Fisher lowered himself down and set fire to the rest of the eggs and structures in the chamber.
Grayden managed to communicate with the metal heart one more time, and compelled it to tell him how to remove the creature (if that’s what it was) fused with his friend. The heart telepathically offered that they had to move quickly to another room, which lay down the dark corridor…
Note: These playtest sessions are very short. Combat and task resolution is very fast. The GM’s descriptions and the PC discussions and deliberations were very long. All of the above action took place in a bit less than two hours of actual game time. The rest of the session was rules discussion (and jokes and silliness–it’s a game session, after all).