Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Triple Threat: Barghest



Barghest

Barghests are large horse-sized canines that resembles a cross between a hyena and a wolf with mangy fur and sharp-pointed ears. Barghests are found just in just about any wilderness and hunt in packs, they are especially sensitive to prey with supernatural capabilities whom they find delightfully tasty. They possess animal level intellect but are cunning and capable of cornering or boxing in their prey – even coming up with elaborate traps that make use of the surrounding terrain.

For any game…

ST: 16                    HP: 16                   Speed: 6.00

DX: 12                   Will: 11                Move: 9

IQ: 5                      Per: 14                  Weight: 500 lbs.

HT: 12                   FP: 12                    SM: +1

Dodge: 10             Parry: N/A           DR: 3 (Tough Skin)

Bite (14): 1d+1 cutting.

Traits:  Combat Reflexes; Detect Supernatural Beings and Phenomena (Smell-based); Discriminatory Smell; Enhanced Ground Move 1 (Ground Speed 18; Costs Fatigue, 2 FP); Night Vision 9; Quadruped; Resistant to Supernatural Powers (+3); Striking ST+2 (Bite Only); Temperature Tolerance 3 (-11° to 82°); Wild Animal.

Skills:  Brawling-14; Stealth-12; Tracking-18*.

Notes: Despite the fact that they are not sapient, they do have an animal cunning and make use of ‘pack’ tactics. This gives them an effective Tactics skill of 5 plus the number of members of the pack. If the GM is using Intrinsic Fright Check GURPS Horror, (p. 139) barghest have a modifier of -1.

* Includes bonus for Discriminatory Smell.

For Dungeon Fantasy

ST: 16                    HP: 16                   Speed: 6.00

DX: 12                   Will: 11                Move: 9

IQ: 5                      Per: 14                  Weight: 500 lbs.

HT: 12                   FP: 12                    SM: +1

Dodge: 10             Parry: N/A           DR: 3 (Tough Skin)

Bite (14): 1d+1 cutting.

Traits:  Combat Reflexes; Detect Supernatural Beings and Phenomena (Smell-based); Discriminatory Smell; Enhanced Ground Move 1 (Ground Speed 18; Costs Fatigue, 2 FP); Night Vision 9; Quadruped; Resistant to Supernatural Powers (+3); Striking ST+2 (Bite Only); Temperature Tolerance 3 (-11° to 82°); Wild Animal.

Skills:  Brawling-14; Stealth-12; Tracking-18*.

Classification: Dire Animal.

Notes: Despite the fact that they are not sapient, they do have an animal cunning and make use of ‘pack’ tactics. This gives them an effective Tactics skill of 5 plus the number of members of the pack.

* Includes bonus for Discriminatory Smell.

For Monster Hunters

ST: 16                    HP: 16                   Speed: 6.00

DX: 12                   Will: 11                Move: 9

IQ: 5                      Per: 14                  Weight: 500 lbs.

HT: 12                   FP: 12                    SM: +1

Dodge: 10             Parry: N/A           DR: 3 (Tough Skin)

Fright Check: -1

Bite (14): 1d+1 cutting.

Traits:  Combat Reflexes; Detect Magic (Smell-based); Discriminatory Smell; Enhanced Move 1 (Ground Speed 18; Costs Fatigue, 2 FP); Magic Resistance 4; Night Vision 9; Quadruped; Striking ST+2 (Bite Only); Temperature Tolerance 3 (-11° to 82°); Wild Animal.

Skills:  Brawling-14; Stealth-12; Tracking-18*.

Notes: Despite the fact that they are not sapient, they do have an animal cunning and make use of ‘pack’ tactics. This gives them an effective Tactics skill of 5 plus the number of members of the pack. Use the skills listed under Cryptids in the Know Thy Enemy box in Monster Hunters 1 (p. 16). One or two champions should be able to handle three or four barghest. This might be slightly skewed for a team that uses mostly magic as the barghest are near immune to it and can track mages by scent.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Night-Dimmed Day – Part II – Game Session 2



July 3rd 2000, Monday

1:35 pm

Undisclosed Island in Michigan Lake

After a few hours of rest the PCs (along with the SEAL team) begin repacking their equipment, replacing broken pieces and reloading ammo.  Angelique ends up assembling the two pieces of the crystal skull and helping the technicians adjust the machine. After mere moments they managed to open a portal, the first test run to see how long the aperture remains stable. Hachiko, still distraught at the visions he was ‘gifted’ with by the Eyeless is ordered to stay out of this mission to give him some time to recoup. This brings the expeditionary team down by one (Angelique, Gelar, Jonathan, Alex, Marie, and Sergei plus the SEAL team) to a total of 11. Both Dr. Halusko and Commander Covington deem the team large enough and send them through the portal.

(The following is the chronological date)

August 8th 1614, Monday

2:10 pm

(The following is the subjective date – to the players it appears to have stopped)

July 3rd 2000, Monday

1:35 pm

Unnamed Mountain Pass, Ishikari Mountains, Japan

Getting ejected from the portal somewhat violently the team quickly survey the current area, a open field with few trees and tall (but dying grass). In the distance the grey sky shows promise of a upcoming wintery storm. Alex checks his pocket watch and realizes (along with Angelique and Jonathan) that they are not in the Dreamlands somewhere. They have in fact travelled back in time itself! Before they can more fully think through what happened they are interrupted. The sound of a large number of horses heading their way is heard and while they try to hide in the tall grass and trees Alex and Gelar are spotted anyways. A group of about thirty armed and armored samurai surround them and begin to speak in a ancient dialect of Japanese. Firing another warning shot at their feet the leader begins to get angry. Despite Angelique, Gelar, and Sergei’s mastery of the Japanese language it is Alex (who is a closet otaku and japanophile) who understands what the samurai is telling them and with deference explains to them that they are ‘from far off’ and looking for a something special. Then Alex summons Minninnewah and Angelique (who had managed to remain hidden along with Jonathan and Sergei) dropped down from the tree she was in, quickly dressed in a (modern bath) kimono hasty removed from Jonathan’s haversack. She quickly makes a impression stopping a potential combat as she demands to be taken their lord. The leader introduces himself as Reizen Nobu and explains that if they are seeking the O-ekishohahen (literally ‘great shard’) they should follow him. Several of his samurai dismount and give their horses to the travelers while they ride double with another. It takes several hours to get to the unnamed (and hastily constructed) village under Mt. Daisetsu and they are forced to stop many times to hide from enemy patrols who are combing the area. Once up in the mountains though they the enemy patrols stop and they get to their destination in no time.

(The following is the chronological date)

August 8th 1614, Monday

4:10 pm

Village at Unnamed Mountain Pass, Ishikari Mountains, Japan

Once inside the protection of the village, which is itself nestled against the back of a glacial stream with several natural barriers protecting it. While several structures do dot the landscape the largest is a house made deep black wood. Reizan leads the travelers inside to where a white-haired older man sits by the fire. Turning around he speaks to Angelique in a soft voice asking her if she is there to kill him. When she replies no their eyes meet and that is when she sees his eyes irises are white (a unlucky color in Japanese culture as it symbolizes death). Unlike most others she is able to maintain her gaze and eventually he invites her to sit down and speak with him about the O-ekishohahen. He introduces himself as Lord Yuki-me, a warlord and hatamoto (literally ‘banner man’) of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The rest of the team is taken outside and the SEALs build up a small campfire and begin to make food for the rest of their companions. Jonathan meanwhile borrows or barters for clothing for everyone else so they draw less attention. Alex takes Minninnewah to the nearest pasture to graze and Gelar finds the local preist (whose shrine the village was essentially built around) and asks for help in the form of local gossip, clothing, and a prayer. While the priest is a Shinto (Gelar is a Zen Buddhist) the two get along quite while and the priest, Madoka Kou, tells him about the war going on. How the Tokugawa and Toyotomi clans are fighting a battle for control of the country itself. He explains that a shipment of gold was passing through his home, Korinoshiro, on its way to Lord Tokugawa when his home and vassals were attacked by a powerful mahotsukai (the Japanese word for sorcerers and magic users in general), the sorcerer’s oni, and the various ronin and sanzoku (bandits) he had gathered under him. Lord Yuki-me had barely escaped with his life and many of his samurai were killed helping the villagers and others escape. They escaped to the temple on the mountain because the mahotsukai didn’t seem to be able to go near it. They had been in the mountains ever since and that had been over a year before. Sergei, having disappeared into the background scouted the area making sure they were safe quickly discovered two shinobi who were posing as peasants. Following them he waited for them to make their move. When they tried to sneak into Lord Yuki-me’s chambers he killed one and tied up the other for questioning. Angelique, Gelar, Sergei, Jonathan, and Marie go outside to the porch where they see the snow falling heavily. Getting a flash of danger Angelique and Gelar draw weapons, suddenly to their right where what’s left of Yuki-me’s samurai are practicing they see something bright and red fill the otherwise dull white landscape. Soon after the gathered samurai are all turned to icy replicas of themselves. And that’s when the attack came, a dozen men dressed in deep crimson and five red-armored samurai attack trying to kill Yuki-me. The remaining uncursed samurai, the PCs, and the SEAL team end up fending the first attack but when the mahotsukai summon a small band of oni1, things begin to quickly look bleak until Gelar kills two oni with arrows through the eye, while Alex, Marie, and Sergei (who uses his mask to become invisible) work on taking out the sorcerers. The mahotsukai quickly cast a spell revealing all hiden foes and marking them so they are easier to see. They then begin unleashing scarlet lightening at the PCs. Sergei is hit by a bolt of this scarlet electricity in his groin/lower torso though he continues fighting otherwise unhindered. While they are able to deal with the lesser mahotsukai, the leader proves difficult as every time he is damaged the trauma is passed onto one of his subordinates mystically leaving him completely unharmed2. Jonathan is shot through the throat by a sanzoku crossbow bolt and crawls his way into the shrine. Despite the seemingly death-dealing blow he manages to continue helping the rest of his allies, using his probability altering abilities to bend circumstance to them. Alex runs down several of the sanzoku with Minninnewah who (surprisingly) manifests four additional legs. When the mahotsukai send a final wave of men Angelique somehow manages to summon Suzaku3 herself and causes the mahotsukai to flee through a hastily constructed gate. Before Suzaku disappears she heals all the wounded and restores the cursed samurai to their previous condition. While there are no wounded thanks to Suzaku’s mercy, there are two dead (they died fighting the summoned oni while protecting Lord Yuki-me). Three enemy warriors were captured and placed in chains, stripped of their armor and weaponry. Angelique puts herself into a trance and contacts Jestinius and tries to tell him what’s going on though the connection is faint. He realizes what has happened and tells her to remove all evidence of any modern weapons that cannot otherwise be concealed (the SEALS ended up using their M4’s against the oni when they were attacked) and promises to be there soon. Since the shard is not where they currently are, they have to go find it first in order for the gateway to be able to be opened again.

(The following is the chronological date)

August 8th 1614, Monday

6:23 pm

Village at Unnamed Mountain Pass, Ishikari Mountains, Japan

1 Oni are the Japanese equivalent of ogres or trolls, taller than a man and welding a huge tetsubo they love to dine on the flesh of all those who enter their terrority. These particular ones had been ‘summoned’ by the mahotsukai.

2 The mahotsukai used a spell to transfer all the damage he took from a given attack to one of his subordinates instead of taking it himself.

3 Suzaku is one of the four sacred beasts of Japan and appear in Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Taoist philosophies as well. It is the equivalent of a god and can do pretty much anything it wants too. Oddly enough Suzaku is closely aligned with summer but was somehow able to manifest in autumn (something she would have normally found difficult).

(GM's Note: One of players couldn't make the game and I'm not sure when if he will be able to make the following ones so I've involved my players on a sort of 'side quest' to set up a story arc later on in the campaign. While it was probably not needed I felt the urge to explain myself a bit.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Triple Threat: Tatou



[The following creature is  from a nightmare I had. Enjoy.]

The tatou is a vicious apex predator typically found in swamplands or jungles. Resembling a horrid combination of snapping turtle, salamander, and armadillo the tatou has heavily armored plate-like skin that is resistant to small arms fire and all but immune to most melee weapons. These plates are wickedly sharp and can inflict severe lacerations to those that try to grapple them. They have developed the unique ability to curl up into a ball and using special-purpose muscles ‘bounce’. They can also remain curled up in a ball thus covering up their more exposed portions making them immune to all but the most powerful of handguns and small-arms fire. Tatou are incredibly territorial and will go out of its way to protect what it considers its. While they have no teeth they do have incredibly sharp beak-like mouths that can crush limbs and break bones. While they can use their special bouncing ability to move they prefer tunneling under the earth and surprising their prey from below. Tatou can reach upwards to 30 feet long and weigh over 5 tons in some of the largest adult specimens.

For Any Game...

Adult Tatou

ST: 50                    HP: 50                   Speed: 6.00

DX: 11                   Will: 11                Move: 6

IQ: 3                      Per: 12                  Weight: 5 tons

HT: 12                   FP: 12                    SM: +4

Dodge: 10            Parry: 11              DR: 12/36*

Bite (13): 5d+2 cut; Reach C-3.

Bouncing Slam (20): 5d+6 cr; see notes. Made as a Move and Attack and performed as a Pounce (p. B371). Roll against Jumping skill at the end of the attack, success means the tatou is still on its feet! Regardless, the tatou cannot make an active defense afterward.

Traits:  Bad Temper (9); Basic Speed +1.00 (Costs Fatigue, 1 FP); Berserk (12); Combat Reflexes; Doesn’t Breathe (Oxygen Storage, x300); Enhanced Move 1 (Ground Move 12; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP); Natural Biter 1; Nictitating Membrane 4; Quadruped; Sharp Beak; Spines (1d-1 cutting; Reach C)†; Striking Shell‡; Super Jump 3 (Costs Fatigue, 1 FP); Tunneling (Move 8); Wild Animal.

Skills: Brawling-13; Camouflage-14; Jumping-16; Stealth-12; Survival (Swampland)-12.

Notes: Tatou can bounce onto a target up to 5 yards away doing an 5d+6 slam attack. If they can catch their target unaware they can leap onto them from 29 yards away doing a slam attack that inflicts a whopping 29d+30! Each jump costs 1 FP. If the GM is using Intrinsic Fright Check GURPS Horror, (p. 139) tatou have a modifier of -3.

Juvenile Tatou

ST: 20                    HP: 20                   Speed: 6.00

DX: 11                   Will: 11                Move: 7

IQ: 3                      Per: 12                  Weight: 1,000 lbs.

HT: 12                   FP: 12                    SM: +1

Dodge: 10           Parry: 11              DR: 6/18*

Bite (13): 2d-1 cut; Reach C.

Bouncing Slam (15): 1d+2 cr; see notes. Made as an All-Out Attack (Strong) and performed as a Pounce (p. B371). Roll against Jumping skill at the end of the attack, success means the tatou is still on its feet! Regardless, the tatou cannot make an active defense afterward.

Traits:  Bad Temper (9); Basic Speed +1.00 (Costs Fatigue, 1 FP); Berserk (12); Combat Reflexes; Doesn’t Breathe (Oxygen Storage, x300); Enhanced Move 1 (Ground Move 14; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP); Natural Biter 1; Nictitating Membrane 4; Quadruped; Sharp Beak; Spines (1d-1 cutting; Reach C)†; Striking Shell‡; Super Jump 3 (Costs Fatigue, 1 FP); Tunneling (Move 8); Wild Animal.

Skills: Brawling-13; Camouflage-14; Jumping-16; Stealth-12; Survival (Swampland)-12.

Notes: Tatou can bounce onto a target up to 5 yards away doing an 2d+3 slam attack. If they can catch their target unaware they can leap onto them from 34 yards away doing a slam attack that inflicts 14d+15. Each jump costs 1 FP. If the GM is using Intrinsic Fright Check GURPS Horror, (p. 139) tatou have a modifier of -3.
* The tatou can take a All-Out maneuver and effectively triple its DR. This is done by the creature squeezing into a ball and overlapping several of its armored plates.

† This functions exactly like the regular Spines advantage except it inflicts cutting damage versus impaling.

‡ When slamming a target this perk gives +1 to damage.

For Dungeon Fantasy

Adult Tatou

ST: 50                    HP: 50                   Speed: 6.00

DX: 11                   Will: 11                Move: 6

IQ: 3                      Per: 12                  Weight: 5 tons

HT: 12                   FP: 12                    SM: +4

Dodge: 10            Parry: 11              DR: 12/36*

Bite (13): 5d+2 cut; Reach C-3.

Bouncing Slam (20): 5d+6 cr; see notes. Made as a Move and Attack and performed as a Pounce (p. B371). Roll against Jumping skill at the end of the attack, success means the tatou is still on its feet! Regardless, the tatou cannot make an active defense afterward.

Traits:  Bad Temper (9); Basic Speed +1.00 (Costs Fatigue, 1 FP); Berserk (12); Combat Reflexes; Doesn’t Breathe (Oxygen Storage, x300); Enhanced Move 1 (Ground Move 12; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP); Natural Biter 1; Nictitating Membrane 4; Quadruped; Sharp Beak; Spines (1d-1 cutting; Reach C)†; Striking Shell‡; Super Jump 3 (Costs Fatigue, 1 FP); Tunneling (Move 8); Wild Animal.

Skills: Brawling-13; Camouflage-14; Jumping-16; Stealth-12; Survival (Swampland)-12.

Classification: Dire Animal.

Notes: Tatou can bounce onto a target up to 5 yards away doing an 5d+6 slam attack. If they can catch their target unaware they can leap onto them from 29 yards away doing a slam attack that inflicts a whopping 29d+30! Each jump costs 1 FP. Tatou plates make excellent armor. Use the statistics for dragonhide. Due to the rigidity of the material only scale, lamellar, or plate armor can be made of tatou plate.

Juvenile Tatou

ST: 20                    HP: 20                   Speed: 6.00

DX: 11                   Will: 11                Move: 7

IQ: 3                      Per: 12                  Weight: 1,000 lbs.

HT: 12                   FP: 12                    SM: +1

Dodge: 10           Parry: 11              DR: 6/18*

Bite (13): 2d-1 cut; Reach C.

Bouncing Slam (15): 1d+2 cr; see notes. Made as an All-Out Attack (Strong) and performed as a Pounce (p. B371). Roll against Jumping skill at the end of the attack, success means the tatou is still on its feet! Regardless, the tatou cannot make an active defense afterward.

Traits:  Bad Temper (9); Basic Speed +1.00 (Costs Fatigue, 1 FP); Berserk (12); Combat Reflexes; Doesn’t Breathe (Oxygen Storage, x300); Enhanced Move 1 (Ground Move 14; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP); Natural Biter 1; Nictitating Membrane 4; Quadruped; Sharp Beak; Spines (1d-1 cutting; Reach C)†; Striking Shell‡; Super Jump 3 (Costs Fatigue, 1 FP); Tunneling (Move 8); Wild Animal.

Skills: Brawling-13; Camouflage-14; Jumping-16; Stealth-12; Survival (Swampland)-12.

Classification: Dire Animal.

Notes: Tatou can bounce onto a target up to 5 yards away doing an 2d+3 slam attack. If they can catch their target unaware they can leap onto them from 34 yards away doing a slam attack that inflicts 14d+15. Each jump costs 1 FP. Tatou plates make excellent armor. Use the statistics for dragonhide. Due to the rigidity of the material only scale, lamellar, or plate armor can be made of tatou plate.
* The tatou can take a All-Out maneuver and effectively triple its DR. This is done by the creature squeezing into a ball and overlapping several of its armored plates.

† This functions exactly like the regular Spines advantage except it inflicts cutting damage versus impaling.

‡ When slamming a target this perk gives +1 to damage.

For Monster Hunters

Adult Tatou

ST: 50                    HP: 50                   Speed: 6.00

DX: 11                   Will: 11                Move: 6

IQ: 3                      Per: 12                  Weight: 5 tons

HT: 12                   FP: 12                    SM: +4

Dodge: 10            Parry: 11              DR: 12/36*

Fright Check: -3

Bite (16): 5d+2 cut; Reach C-3.

Bouncing Slam (20): 5d+6 cr; see notes. Made as a Move and Attack and performed as a Pounce (p. B371). Roll against Jumping skill at the end of the attack, success means the tatou is still on its feet! Regardless, the tatou cannot make an active defense afterward.

Traits:  Bad Temper (9); Basic Speed +1.00 (Costs Fatigue, 1 FP); Berserk (12); Combat Reflexes; Doesn’t Breathe (Oxygen Storage, x300); Enhanced Move 1 (Ground Move 12; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP); Natural Biter 1; Nictitating Membrane 4; Quadruped; Sharp Beak; Spines (1d-1 cutting; Reach C)†; Striking Shell‡; Super Jump 3 (Costs Fatigue, 1 FP); Tunneling (Move 8); Wild Animal.

Skills: Brawling-16; Camouflage-14; Jumping-16; Stealth-12; Survival (Swampland)-12.

Notes: Tatou can bounce onto a target up to 5 yards away doing an 5d+6 slam attack. If they can catch their target unaware they can leap onto them from 29 yards away doing a slam attack that inflicts a whopping 29d+30! Each jump costs 1 FP. Use the skills listed under Cryptids in the Know Thy Enemy box in Monster Hunters 1 (p. 16). An entire team of champions should be able to handle a single adult tatou.

Juvenile Tatou

ST: 20                    HP: 20                   Speed: 6.00

DX: 11                   Will: 11                Move: 7

IQ: 3                      Per: 12                  Weight: 1,000 lbs.

HT: 12                   FP: 12                    SM: +1

Dodge: 10            Parry: 11              DR: 6/18*

Fright Check: -1

Bite (16): 2d-1 cut; Reach C.

Bouncing Slam (15): 1d+2 cr; see notes. Made as an All-Out Attack (Strong) and performed as a Pounce (p. B371). Roll against Jumping skill at the end of the attack, success means the tatou is still on its feet! Regardless, the tatou cannot make an active defense afterward.

Traits:  Bad Temper (9); Basic Speed +1.00 (Costs Fatigue, 1 FP); Berserk (12); Combat Reflexes; Doesn’t Breathe (Oxygen Storage, x300); Enhanced Move 1 (Ground Move 14; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP); Natural Biter 1; Nictitating Membrane 4; Quadruped; Sharp Beak; Spines (1d-1 cutting; Reach C)†; Striking Shell‡; Super Jump 3 (Costs Fatigue, 1 FP); Tunneling (Move 8); Wild Animal.

Skills: Brawling-16; Camouflage-14; Jumping-16; Stealth-12; Survival (Swampland)-12.

Notes: Tatou can bounce onto a target up to 5 yards away doing an 2d+3 slam attack. If they can catch their target unaware they can leap onto them from 34 yards away doing a slam attack that inflicts 14d+15. Each jump costs 1 FP. Use the skills listed under Cryptids in the Know Thy Enemy box in Monster Hunters 1 (p. 16). Two champions should be able to handle a single juvenile tatou.
* The tatou can take a All-Out maneuver and effectively triple its DR. This is done by the creature squeezing into a ball and overlapping several of its armored plates.

† This functions exactly like the regular Spines advantage except it inflicts cutting damage versus impaling.

‡ When slamming a target this perk gives +1 to damage.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Night-Dimmed Day – Part II – Game Session 1



July 3rd 2000, Monday

10:00 am

Undisclosed Island in Michigan Lake

After a good night’s rest the PC’s reassemble in the mess hall. Jonathan, unable to deal with the ‘fifth-rate food’ disappears into the back of the mess and begins to systematically take over the kitchen. The smell of the newly prepared cuisine draws in a huge chunk of the base personal as they vie for lumpia and chicken adobe. Angelique, meanwhile, reinforces her bond with the potently telekinetic little orphan boy. She even leaves him with Jestinius for a while and to the surprise of everyone the child bonds to him as he had to Angelique. Victor Halusko (after eating in the mess) calls the PC’s, the Old Man, Commander Covington, Gunnery Sergeant David Simon (in charge of base security), Dr. Jestinius Ashur, and Quincy Edgar (senior technician) to a briefing in the main conference room. There they discuss the best way to fix the machine and to retrieve the remaining pieces of the fracture crystal skull. After much debate and a few hurled insults Angelique and Jestinius come up with a solution by using a much smaller amount of power to the machine and using the piece of the crystal skull they actually have. After a disaster on the ground floor of the machine room that nearly destroys the main power relays (which was saved thanks to the untimely proximity of Gelar who took most of the current) they manage to open a gate into the Dreamlands.

With their carefully selected gear Alex, Angelique, Gelar, Hachiko,  Jonathan,  Marie, Sergei, and the remaining members of SEAL Team 13 set off through the gate and into the Dreamlands to recover a piece of the skull.

July 3rd 2000, Monday

10:20 am (subjective time)

Valley of the Lost

Once through the gate the travelers find themselves in what appears to be a deciduous forest. Having no way of outwardly locating the piece of the skull (which the boffins back at the base thought would be “close by”) Angelique performs a spell that will lead them to where it rests. Part divination, part scrying spell the magic creates an image in the air of the location of the skull fragment and the surrounding area (which appears to be a giant trove of treasure…). Underneath a tree is a small mushroom1 that begins to threaten Angelique when she gets close enough. Gelar (who is having an adverse reaction to the ‘stay-awakes’ they were given earlier) begins to hallucinate and due to some mental oddities forms a temporary telepathic bond with Angelique. This enables him to see the strange things she does (including Asher the Bunny, her imaginary friend). When she crushes the mushroom it screams and only the two of them can hear it, as it dies it threatens that its ‘big brothers are going to take care of them’. Later as they move through the woods a much larger mushroom appears and before it can threaten anyone Gelar stabs it with an area and flicks it off into the distance (Jonathan actually retrieves it later on, placing it in his pack). Alex summons Minninnewah from her statue and scouts ahead.

As the travelers make their way to the fragment, the woods around them grow denser, thicker, and twisting. In a clearing, at the foot of a mountain lay an abandoned (Greek-style) temple complete with fallen columns and a half caved in ceiling. Sensing familiar surroundings Gelar walks toward the temple and inside it, Angelique following the monk in  becomes aware of another presence within the ruined temple just as it shows itself. A huge monstrous creature with a centipede like body, several lobster-like claws, writhing tentacles, and a human face with no eyes drops in front of them. Angelique recognizes it as  Aopis the Eyeless2, a blasphemous creature capable of seeing the future with perfect accuracy though it only reveals things that would cause pain to the one asking questions. It also has the power to find things that are lost, from valuable coinage to unique items, its horde is unimaginably huge. Since Aopis (more commonly shortened to ‘the Eyeless’) is as powerful as some minor gods fighting it would be impossible. Instead, Gelar decides to bargain with it (despite Angelique’s warning!), since it was keen on his dai-kyu he offers it along with the matching quiver and the remainder of his arrows if the Eyeless will allow him and his companions to remove one item apiece from its vast horde. Despite trying to bargain for more the Eyeless finally agrees and everyone but Hachiko and the SEALS end up inside the horde. The Eyeless begins to taunt Hachiko until finally the stoic man speaks to it.

Eventually the Eyeless’s taunts get too personal as it tells him how his family is going to die. Angelique calls the SEALs and Hachiko inside the horde area before Hachiko loses his temper. After finding the crystal skull fragment she sends it out with Sergei and then helps the others find an item that ‘suits’ them. Gelar takes a flute, Hachiko finds what appears to be his ancestral great armor (O-yoroi), Alex finds a glacial worn stone that is cool to the touch, Marie leaves with a box that holds what appears to be a ninja gi, Minninnewah leaves with a saddle, while Angelique leaves with a very special prize: the diary of Kamala Ashur, Jestinius’s mother (a powerful psychic, sometimes called the Crystal Seeress). Jonathan unable to decide on exactly what he wants stumbles across a rucksack that appears larger on the inside than out. While the Eyeless is distracted with the others Jonathan begins to fill the bag with as much of the horde as he possibly can before exiting with everyone else. Outside the large mushroom-like creatures have continued gathering and despite their menacing (and vaguely phallic) looks, they are quickly dispersed by the quick thinking of Gelar who pulled out his tomahawk calling it a “mushroom-slayer” and daring them to attack. The thallud deciding not to attack such a powerful adversary recede back into the tangled forest. The trip back to where they came through the gate takes longer than getting there despite how quickly they hurry. Once back at the small hillock area Angelique contacts Jestinius through the dimensional barrier and the gate again opens. Heading back through the travelers are welcomed back with surprise as they had left only a few minutes before. Handing the skull fragment over to the boffins the team disperses for a meal and rest. Jestinius, by suggestion from Angelique, gathers everyone in a barrack room and using his innate psychic powers brings everyone into a shared dream. Once there he compresses the time so only an hour passes in the real world but 30 hours pass in the dream(speeding subjective time to about thirty times normal). He then begins to teach the dreamers how to work as a team by training non-military members of the group in military and police tactics and training those unfamiliar with the Dreamlands how to survive there and the rudiments of lucid dreaming techniques. When the dreamers awake Victor informs them that Dr. Edgar is having trouble assembling the fragments of the skull.

July 3rd 2000, Monday

11:45 am

Undisclosed Island in Michigan Lake

1The creature is a thallud, a fungal life-form native to the forests and woodlands of the Dreamlands. While not dangerous if small some of the staggeringly huge specimens can be mistaken for trees. These larger varieties of thallud while not carnivorous do like to attack other creatures so that they can drag them back to their lairs where the bodies can decompose and nourish the next generation. All thalluds of the same variety in the same area share a hive-mind and can silently communicate with each other. Strangely enough despite the fact that they cannot verbally communicate, some sensitive (or mad) individuals can tap into this telepathic communication and speak with them.

2Not much is known of Aopis the Eyeless other than the Brotherhood forbid anyone from communicating with it. Despite this those seeking knowledge of the future or something that has been lost often trade with it (usually their own deep personal secrets). While trading for items from its vast horde is still dangerous, trading for knowledge of the future always leads to terrible consequences for the one doing the asking. For instance, the Eyeless might tell a solider that he will be victorious over his foes; later on after his victory and subsequent promotion he’ll be assigned to another post where ultimately he will be responsible for the deaths of the men under his command. No prophecy from the Eyeless comes with some form of inherent poison.