Woo-Hoo! I said, WOOO-HOOO!
Further Thundarrverse adventures of Rash, Canthar, and Bakra the Puma Girl in the Madzone... short and sweet reports:
Session 2: They hid from the minions. Made their way to the Troll Bridge. Used a variant of Floating Disk to cross the moat and skirt the tower. Made it to the Citadel undetected. Climbed up the wall using a rope and grapling hook. Saw the giant War Machine of the Mad Mage in the center of the Citadel; the War Machine looks something like this, but square, with four large rotors (one at each corner), helicopters rather than jets, and in the center, the ancient Wisconsin State Capitol Dome:
They saw a few towers amidst the town within the Citadel; there seemed to be "pilot-like" humans among the trolls and rattocks in those areas (i.e., jumpsuits, helmets, mirrorshades, etc.). They snuck into the Citadel down through one of the half-towers. Discovered the town along the inside walls was a rat warren, appropriately enough for a race of rat-men like the Rattocks. After getting lost for a bit, they made their way to one of the towers. Saw four Humans chained to a wagon like beasts of burden, and four more human slaves unloading big bags of turnips. A rattock wearing a red sash and bearing a whip was whipping the slaves, told them if they didn't hurry up he'd feed THEM to the trolls. Bakra, in a rage, leapt up and gutted the rattock. They hurriedly hid the body in the tower storeroom, then questioned the slaves, who all had conflicting reports on the rumored nature of the Mad Mage, though all agreed that his head was huge and his body was tiny and that he seemed to have many personalities. They also noted that the factory was nearing completion of the army of flying robots for the Mad Mage!
Session 3: Rash, Canthar, and Bakra decided they had to get into the War Machine, so the slaves said they would run a distraction while the three hid among bags of turnips on the next run to the War Machine, which was being provisioned for the coming war. This was successfully done, and while the wagon was making its way up the ramp to the War Machine, Canthar (who knows something about Wizard technomancy) noticed that the War Machine's rotors were assisted in their lift by anti-gravity pods on the bottom of the War Machine... an important point that would come up later.
They were thrown into the supply room, like the bags of turnips they posed as. They were deciding whether to take the Jeffries Tubes or the Air Ducts to get further into the War Machine when a Rattock chef, complete with apron and big white hat, entered the supply room carrying only a big spoon. He barely had time to be surprised before Rash grabbed his neck and twisted it, snapping it like a rotten twig (Nat 20 on that surprise attack). They hid the body among the turnips, then skedaddled into the Jeffries Tube system.
They followed it for a while, crawling further in toward the center. Finally they came out in a small triangular room with tools and parts on the walls. Bakra went to listen at the only door opposite the tube entrance, when to her horror it opened with a "whoosh" and there stood a Rattock, dressed in a jump suit and with tools on a belt. He turned to run back onto a catwalk, and Bakra quickly followed and pushed him off, to fall down a level with a squeal and a thud.
Session 4: In the momentary glimpse that Canthar had of the large room before Bakra rushed back in and they jumped back into the tube, he saw a huge, multi-storied lava-light like device... obviously the Power Generator of the War Machine! But they did not know how many other Rattocks and Trolls might have been there, so they fled. Going all the way back, they passed their original entry and continued on to the corner of the War Machine, where Canthar expected to find the control center/engine for the rotor.
Find it they did, and Canthar looked it over intently, deciding that he could rig it to overload once it was underway, blowing out the rotor and the AG unit, and ideally causing the War Machine to crash. He was just about to rig it so, when one of the doors opened... Rash and Bakra quickly jumped back into the Jeffries Tube "tool shed," (which was like the other one at the other end), but Canthar got caught up on some of the protruding machinery of the engine, as three Engineer Rattocks and a Troll walked in.
Thinking he was dead, Canthar was relieved when the rattocks mistook him for one of "the master's apprentices," and respectfully asked him if they could assist. He waved them off kindly, telling them he was done here, and that they could go about their business. They went to perform their routine maintenance, and as Canthar turned to leave, the troll (who was carrying tools and parts) gave him a strange look. "I thoughts as I knew'd all th' Master's prentices," the Troll said, gruffly and suspiciously. Nervously, Canthar hit the Troll with a hypnotism spell, and convinced him that he was indeed an apprentice, just that he hadn't met him yet. Failing his save spectacularly, the troll nodded agreement, and said, "Pleezed ta meetchya!"
Canthar joined Rash and Bakra in the tube, and they decided to lie low for a while, until the War Machine got underway, and then sabotage the equipment... though they weren't sure how they would get out then, before the thing crashed! They eventually settled on finding a supply cabinet with things that were seldom used by rat-men and trolls, such as soap and other hygiene. They finally noted such a supply room (most rooms on the lowest deck being supply rooms), and were about to enter it when they heard voices coming from it.
There they discovered three apprentices of the Mad Mage in secret conference (seems a good locale to remain undisturbed, indeed). They were contemplating the madness of their master, and the dangers it presented to themselves, especially once the campaign was underway and their services might seemingly no longer be needed. They decided to wait to see how the campaign went before doing anything hasty. One left to tend to business, while the other two discussed the terrible fate of some escaped slaves that had been recaptured in the Citadel. They were chortling about how they were going to torture them and gut them, as their Rattock overseer had been, but far more slowly, when Rash and Bakra burst in and finished them off before they could even act or think. Rash critted one of them with his Star Sword, and took his head clean off (this is not your father's "Saturday Morning" Thundarrverse!)
They decided to hide out in the supply room until the War Machine took off, which it did several hours later. If the Mad Mage or the other apprentice noticed the other apprentices were missing, they didn't check down there, fortunately. Once the War Machine was underway, they waited for a half-hour before acting... then to their horror heard the sounds of bombardment! The campaign against the nearby villages had already begun in earnest! Poor Bakra, with her superior hearing, was having a devil of a time with the ringing sounds of huge weapons going off all around her. They quickly made their way back to the rotor room nearest the supply depot where they entered, hoping that once the War Machine went to ground, they could open the ramp and escape that way.
When they entered the rotor room, they discovered a Rattock engineer; they quickly finished him off, but to their horror, discovered that somehow, they were locked out of the controls that Canthar planned to use to sabotage the rotor and AG module! Putting caution to the wayside, as they saw the village of Dunn being attacked on a nearby viewscreen, Canthar pointed to a spot on the engine and told Rash to strike there with his Star Sword. Lighting arced from the device, and both were singed, but with a whine and many sparks, the engine stopped running and started grinding.
The whole corner of the War Machine dipped drastically, and they all tumbled back and forth in the engine room as the wounded War Machine turned back toward the Citadel while slowly falling from the sky... and failed. It made it about halfway back before it fell to the ground with a resounding crash and a horrible grinding sound that deafened Bakra. They scrambled back into the tube, lest they be caught when engineers arrived to investigate the disaster, and made their way to the supply depot. They were incredibly lucky on the way there, and once they got there, as they failed to have any encounters (the dice were not with me tonight, let me tell you).
They were able to get the ramp open, but only partway, as it got caught up on some ruins... as the War Machine lay atop the southern ruins of the inner Madzone, not far from the shore of the Lake of Lunacy! Fortunately, the ramp stood over mostly solid land, rather than swamp or lake, and they all jumped down the 20 feet or so, with only Canthar getting any bruises from the long jump.
In the gathering darkness, they then saw the helicopter robots in a vast swarm to the south, still attacking Dunn... but then, slowly, they stopped and turned and headed toward the downed War Machine! The trio scrambled through the ruins, hiding here and there, seeking to remain out of sight of the robots... which looked like this:
Fortunately, they were able to avoid the robot's attentions, as the robots took up a wide guard patrol around the downed War Machine. The trio crossed over the southern Madline just east of the ruins of Oddann, and hid out in the nearby forest, taking shelter under an Ancient bus that had been lifted into the air by the trunks of several trees long grown through it. With their supplies back in Dunn (or wherever their steeds were hiding, if they were safe), they got by on some nuts, fruits, roots, and grubs that Rash was able to gather, together with what appeared to hopefully be some fresh water. They were undisturbed during the long night.
The next morning they went to the treeline to find out what was going on with the War Machine and the robots. Things had not changed noticeably since the prior night, though with the full light of day and plenty of time, Canthar was able to count 144 of the flying robots circling above the downed War Machine!
It looks like they have quite a fight on their hands, still...