Third Playtest Report
At this point, it’s worth noting that these reports contain massive spoilers for anyone intending on playing through the Numenera adventure called The Devil’s Spine, offered as a part of the stretch goals for the Numenera Kickstarter campaign.
When last we left our group of Ninth World mercenaries, they were fleeing from the strange “nursery” with the metallic heart of a strange construct guiding them to a place where perhaps the spine-like thing attached to Caracol Vus’ back might be removed.
Grayden ushered the group down a circular corridor into the darkness, his glowglobe illuminating the way. Caedmyn kept lookout, her hands crackling with electrical energy, while Fisher brought up the rear, drained from all the illusions he had created earlier that day. Eventually, the group came into some kind of subterranean workshop with a partially collapsed roof. Caracol Vus determined that the construct had originally been here, but that no one had passed through the massive green metal door opposite the entrance the group had used.
Caedmyn, studied in numenera lore, found a few things of use in the workshop amid the tools, spare parts, and other supplies. With a few minor adjustments, she produced some substances that could be used as revitalizing or enhancing drugs, a device that could be tuned to bend visible light (making a person invisible), and even a small magnetic shield generator.
Meanwhile, Fisher figured out how to open the very secure door by accessing a hidden panel. Down the corridor further, after clearing away still more rubble from a collapsed ceiling, the group discovered a vast chamber with multiple levels. These levels appeared to have once been connected by ladders, but the ladders had mostly collapsed. The explorers stood on a metal balcony, looking down into the room below them. High above, a walkway extended across the room. Suspended from huge pincers that hung from the walkway were a series of four joined cylinders. Each cylinder had windows and was large enough to hold many people inside. The cylinders floated above a metallic track that extended off into the darkness. Below this, the floor lay covered in rubble and ruined structural supports. Something was playing havoc with the structural integrity of this entire underground complex.
Grayden was the first to suggest that the cylinders might be vehicles, or one connected vehicle, that ran along the track. According to the telepathic communication he had with the heart, the direction that the tracked headed was the direction that they needed to go. Using ropes, he lowered himself to the lowest level while Fisher and Caracol Vus got to the suspended cylinders. Fisher discovered a hatch in the roof of the lead cylinder, and found inside to be a number of padded seats far too large and oddly shaped to be meant for humans.
Meanwhile, Grayden located a massive lever in the floor. Once freed of rubble, he pulled it back. There was a terrific explosion of light and heat from the mechanisms around the lever, which stunned him, but the rest saw that one of the three pincers let go of the chain of cylinders. Caedmyn reasoned that there must be more levers and joined Grayden. The two of them working together found a large hatch in the floor buried in rubble. Opening it, they saw a ladder descending into darkness, but the light of their glowglobes shined on a series of criss-crossing metallic filaments.
The pattern of the strands suggested very much a massive spider web made of extremely thin wire. Worse, the darkness concealed something making metallic skitering noises. Caedmyn picked up a bit of rubble and dropped it down so that it would strike one of the strands, and to both her and Grayden’s surprise and dismay, the bit of stone sliced cleanly in half when it met the monofilament. Steeling her courage, the graceful nano Caedmyn lowered herself down the ladder–after activating the device she’d found that generated a protective field around her. She avoided most of the strands, but the pressure from the energy shield forced on one of the wires caused it to slice into one of the ladder supports, and the whole thing suddenly collapsed under her weight.
Caedmyn lay on the floor of the lower chamber filled with metallic webs. The fall and subsequent cuts from the razor-like strands had injured her, but the wounds were nothing she couldn’t recover from. She saw another large lever in this chamber next to a massive glass screen on the wall filled with cracks. What she didn’t see, however, was the enormous spider of liquid metal that crept up behind her. Grayden saw it, however, and with a howl of battle frenzy he leapt down to save her. He landed awkwardly, and the spider bit him. The glaive felt thin filaments shoot into his body with the bite, and it wracked him with pain as they sliced through his muscles and tendons.
Caedmyn and Grayden battled the spider as they called for the others to join them. Caracol Vus reached the chamber just as Grayden pounded it into a pulp with his hammer. All three were surprised to see that the metal spider wasn’t an automaton at all, but a living creature. The clever Caracol Vus managed to use some of the dead spider’s own legs to retain some of the dangerous webbing by wrapping it around them. “You never know,” he said with a shrug.
Caedmyn contorted her way over to the lever. When the others returned up to the linked cylinders, she pulled it. While there was no explosion this time, a strand of webbing sliced right through the lever, but not before it activated the mechanism it was tied to. The second pincer clamped around the cylinders released itself and retracted upward. Even though only one pincer remained, the vehicles all continued to hover over the track and remained somehow connected to each other. Fisher could tell that the last clamp was the only thing keeping the train of cylinders from racing forward. He explored the rest of the linked tubes, but found only more seats.
Grayden and Caedmyn climbed up to join him. Using a spike tied to his rope like a grapnel, Caracol Vus climbed to the high metal catwalk above the train. There, he saw the third lever next to a dead metal spider. The group began to suspect it was the spiders, somehow, that were responsible for all the damage to this entire area. On the walkway, Caracol Vus also found a stash of belts with mechanisms attached to them, one of which appeared to still be functional. With them was a metal sphere. He attached another rope to the lever, looped it through the railing like a makeshift pulley, and dropped down to the lead cylinder with his friends.
Caedmyn determined that the belt nullified gravity in a limited capacity, and that the sphere related recorded information, but it was not in a language any of them could understand. Caracol kept the belt, and then pulled on the rope which activated the lever.
The pincer disengaged, and the hover train took off down the track, taking the four of them into the unknown at unbelievable speeds.