So last night we played our Saturday Night Game… actually we got to play two games. As Robbie still needed to roll up his character for the new 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons campaign, while he was working on that, I put the players through a bit of an experiment. I’ve been toying with my own variation of No Signal’s Labyrinth Critical system, and wanted to try a quick run of the rules. So I had all the players roll up Labyrinth Critical characters for a one-shot adventure, in a campaign region I've pieced together from No Signal's Exit 42a post and Jeff Rient's Welcome to Slimy Lake article from Fight On! #6.
Circa, an Amazon from the City of Thunders (Hans)
Hudson Hugebeard, a Dwarf from the City of Blackhawk (Zell)
She That Shall Not Be Named, a Planetary Ape Chimpanzee from the Great Spineywood (Jessie)
Sssselvan the Almost-Evolved, a Lizardman from the Mercenary Coast (Robbie)
“What was that?” – Last words of the pilot of the I.S.S. Sweet Chariot
The I.S.S. Sweet Chariot, a modified and re-fitted GC-8 Interplanetary Shuttle (bought second-hand by the Second Imperial Slavers Allied League of Guilds from Xenu’s Pre-Owned Skyship Warehouse before the fall of the Vulkin Empire) was en route from the Sovereign Imperial Slavers Guilds of the North (aka the Slaver Kingdoms) laden with tribute, guild dues, and travel reimbursement claims for the Southern Concatenated Imperial Slavers Guilds when it ran into “extreme turbulence.” Or so the report was made by the ambassador from the Remulan Orbital Authority to his counterpart at Slave Market One, the capital of the Slavers Empire, for such was the assurance of the cloaked Remulan Warhawk fighter pilots who saw the whole thing through their battle screens from slightly above and behind the shuttle.
The subsequent continuation of tribute from the Slavers Empire to the ROA did little to assuage the pains suffered by the victims of the turbulence. The vast majority of them, of course, were dead. Of the four survivors, they knew and cared little for the political wrangling of the great empires, and shortly after their hard landing felt only relief at being alive and, apparently, no longer subject to the odious duress of slavery, for all of their captors were messily spattered on the insides of the shuttle cabin.
It was when the four of them stumbled out of the great rent torn in the cabin wall that their joy was turned to ashes, for they discovered that the ship had crashed somewhere south of the middle of nowhere, said location being well within the boundaries of what was more commonly known as the Forbidden Waste. The sun slowly rose to reveal rocky and sandy wastes to the north and west, strangely lush green plains to the east, arid rocky hills to the south, and to the north… well, more arid, rocky hills interspersed with more rocky and sandy wastes. Circa the Amazon thought she could see a large lake far to the north and east, though she surmised that such must, of course, be a mirage; while on the verge of her vision to the north and west, a long black ribbon through the waste, perhaps a Sky God Toll Road.
As the four slowly realized their dilemma, literally being dropped out of the frying pan into the fire, they took stock of what they possessed. Sssselvan was the first to suggest a thorough looting of the ruined vessel. The following items were found scattered between the main cabin and the cargo hold:
A tool box (missing the #10 Metric wrench);
A mace with a large red button on the hilt;
A grenade of unknown variety;
A large crate marked “One Pre-Imperial Era Earthican Machine Gun;”
A sweet portable 8-track player with five “Best Of” tapes: AC/DC, Judas Priest, Billy Squire, Iron Maiden, and Olivia Newton-John;
12 road flares;
A crate of 10 bottles of Remulan Ale;
A motion detector (with the registration number filed off, “Property of USSM Sulaco” struck through, and a tag from “Mad Matt’s Military Surplus” still stuck to the view screen);
A partial case of 14 tins of Dinty Moore Beef Stew;
A sack of 13 light sticks (lime green);
A revolver with six rounds in the chambers and a seventh in the pocket of the erstwhile wielder;
A Mark II Laser Pistol (this with a fully-charged belt battery pack integrated with the former Cyborg slaver being forcibly removed by Circa with sharp tools and a hammer);
A holographic chessboard (depicting the New Harlem Globe Trotters versus the Chronos VII Slayers);
A cherry-condition Super-Hawg fresh-grown in the hawg fields of Harley Davidson V;
A GeneriCo Arms 10mm Autorifle with two fully-loaded banana cartridges;
A partially-full Hurry-Heal Hypo-spray unit;
A one-man emergency extraction self-inflating balloon pack;
And 16 bottles of Cool Springs Reconstituted Water.
Dressed only in the rags allotted them by their erstwhile masters, Hudson and She That pieced together a motley assortment of clothing and quasi-armor from the clothing remnants of their former slave and slaver companions. Sssselvan set out to mount the machine gun on the rear seat of the hawg (?!?), while Circa sat down with the toolbox and, with a screwdriver and hammer, proceeded to pry the Slaver Restraining Band off her head. She successfully removed the band, but took with it large chunks of flesh, bone, and hair. As she grew woozy from the pain and blood loss, she and Sssselvan totally missed the stealthy figures who had snuck up on the ruined vessel and secreted themselves among some large rocks fairly close by.
The cry of “Hey you, don’t move!” in heavily-accented Common was the first they knew that they had company.
“Drop all weapons and surrender!” was the second cry they heard, as two of their visitors stepped out from behind the rocks. They were tall and mean-looking Klengon women wearing horned helmets, leather jackets, blue jeans, and knee-high motorcycle boots and holding fancy crossbows.
Laughing maniacally, Circa responded, “What? How are we supposed to drop our weapons if we can’t move?”
“What? You stoopid, is that it?” was the brilliant response from the Klengons.
“I know what you are but what am I?” Circa called out, as she turned and vaporized the lead Klengon with her Mark II Laser Pistol.
Then all hell cut loose, as the other Klengons cried out, “It is a good day to die!” as they loosed their bolts at Circa and Sssselvan, who leapt for cover behind the hawg. Hudson ducked into the rent in the shuttle, drew his rifle, and started firing wildly (being more familiar with an axe than a gun). Weakened by her crazed attempt to remove the slave band, Circa was felled quickly by a lucky bolt. She That flew across the open space between the shuttle and the hawg, dove behind the hawg, and picked up the laser pistol where it had fallen; She That shot wildly at the Klengons until, in her zeal, she accidentally pulled the cable from the battery. Then, finally, as bolts fell around them thick as flies, Sssselvan finally got the machine gun working…
The clatter and thunder of the machine gun drowned out the cries of the Klengons, whose rocky cover was rapidly being reduced by the rapid-fire power of the machine gun. Just as She That got the plug back in the battery, and Hudson finally figured out how to aim his rifle, Sssselvan’s withering fire from the machine gun finished off the last of the Klengons. A Hurry-Heal dose was used to revive Circa, who immediately claimed the best leather jacket for her own (feeling naked without some kind of armor). The four discovered that the Klengons were apparently members of some gang known as the Hellkyries, from the representation of the angel-winged Klengon demoness on the back of the jackets. They decided discretion was the better part of valor and turned the jackets inside-out before they put them on. They also took the crossbows, as well as the mek’leth short swords the Hellkyries had at their belts.
Tracking the steps of the Hellkyries, Circa found five camels tied up in a canyon not too far away; there they discovered several days worth of rations, as well as a goodly supply of Cool Springs Dehydrated Water Pills (Just add water! Not to be taken internally!) After Circa threatened the herd with her laser pistol and getting no results other than further spitting and kicking, Sssselvan applied more direct methods by pressing the button on his mace and touching the biggest camel; one loud and lightning-enhanced shock later and the camel was laid out, subsequently grilled to perfection by the laser pistol, and the remaining four camels were quite docile.
Seeing that the canyon led out into the hard-packed sands of the wastes, Circa slowly led the troop on the hawg, with Hudson riding shotgun (with his rifle), followed by She That and Sssselvan on camels, each with a heavily-laden camel in tow. Later in the evening, when they figured they were perhaps halfway to the blacktop road, they were suddenly attacked by a pack of man-faced lizard-dogs, which immediately attempted to knock them off their mounts. Failing with spectacular failure, to the extent that one of them seemed to suicide beneath Circa’s hawg’s wheels, the troop thought little enough of these foes that they dismounted and proceeded to attack them on foot with the Klengon mek’leths. This is where the battle turned grossly against them, for, as they sadly discovered, while the hounds of horrific heads were no good at knocking them off their mounts, they were much better at their claw/claw/bite routine.
Hudson and Sssselvan quickly fell to the fangs and claws of the beasts, while Circa laid about with the mek’leth and slew several of the lizard-dogs. She did not see what occurred next, as she was viciously engaged, but apparently Sssselvan, his life’s blood spilling out the rent in his belly, decided to try to “take the bastards with him,” and so pulled the pin on the unknown grenade, hoping to go out with a bang. Sadly for She That, it was instead the quiet hiss of a nerve gas grenade, and she and the camels and surrounding lizard-dogs were all instantly felled by the colorless, odorless gas.
When Circa turned from the last of the dog-lizards, she found herself standing alone amidst a field of the dead, with Hudson, guts strewn all about and half-eaten by a lizard-dog, laying at her feet. Carefully observing the remnants of the further battle, she saw a strange shimmer in the twilight air around her fallen companions, the camels, and the hounds. Waiting until the cloud dissipated, she then looted her erstwhile comrades of all things needed for survival, and with a dry eye turned back to the north, to seek the blacktop highway and, perhaps, freedom…
Following the one-shot, we began our new 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons campaign, in my home-grown setting of Varyonde. More about that soon…