I’ve been lucky enough to begin running Vaarn with a regular group for the past three weekends. The sessions have taken us through the entire Pelerine Temple opening scenario and out into the wastelands of Vaarn, putting my random generators and improvisation skills to the test.
The party consisted of:
> Flim-Flam, a two-headed cacogen Adept. His area of expertise is cooking. He fights with dual-wield pistols, and has a cyborg hawk named Midnight.
> Findus, a newbeast Mystic. Findus is a horse-man who wears the mask of a child. He wields a quicksilver spear, and his Mystical Gift is Laser Eyes, a power granted by a parasitic spirit entity.
> A mysterious true-kin Warrior. He is muscle-bound and taciturn, and fights with a large variety of weapons. He began our tale with an iron helmet fused over his head, which prevented him from introducing himself.
Again, after rolling up gear, I informed the PCs that they had been visiting a remote temple in the blue wastelands of Vaarn, a temple dedicated to the Titan GAEA. The remote religious site was known for miraculous healing treatments, administered by its priestesses, the Pelerine Sisterhood. However, the PCs did not awaken in the guest rooms of the temple, instead they awoke to find themselves hanging upside down in a dank underground room. Their weapons and armour were missing, and there was a headless corpse hanging on the opposite side of the room.
The anonymous warrior acted quickly, using a vial of acid he had secreted on his person to sear through the bonds imprisoning them. This worked, but the noise of the PCs falling to the floor alerted a creature somewhere in the dungeon. Heavy footsteps were approaching their prison. The party quickly made their getaway through a crevice in the western wall, finding themselves in a room with a deep, dank pool of water. Thinking to escape, the warrior flung himself into the pool and began to investigate its murky depths. The true-kin found himself in combat with a man-faced eel creature that lurked in the depths of the pool, and being unarmed he decided to surface and continue exploring elsewhere.
They moved to the south and discovered a large, foul-smelling room, which seemed to be the lair of the creature that had investigated their noise earlier. They experimented and discovered the large, bear-like creature was blind and hunted by sound. Distracting it, the party were able to talk to an NPC: a woman who was chained up in the slurry pit in the centre of the room, and was in danger of drowning in the creature’s waste. She introduced herself as Sister Orma and begged them to free her.
The party explored several more rooms in the dungeon. They found a strange milking rack, which seemed to be fitted for the large bear-like monster. They found vats of white milk, which tasted delicious, and turned out to have healing properties. The warrior was not able to drink any, due to the iron mask fitted over his head. Flim-Flam decided to keep a dose of the milk held in one of his mouths, in case they needed to drink some later on. They discovered a darkened room filled with cryogenic chambers, and a shrine to the Titan GAEA. They also discovered the cave that imprisoned the planeyman, Spooltart. They talked with Spooltart a little, but ultimately decided they did not trust the hypergeometric being and elected to keep him imprisoned. Exploring the dungeon further, they found an ossuary, where the bones of dead Pelerine priestesses were kept in alcoves. In the ossuary were a group of three Yurlings, fungus-monkey creatures that were known to feed on metal. Here the group seized the moment, with the human warrior kneeling down and coaxing the Yurlings to feast upon his iron helmet, which they did. Finally able to speak, the true-kin introduced himself as Crunk.
The party then decided to use the Yurlings further, reasoning that the creatures could eat the chains that held Sister Orma captive. Crunk activated his exotica – a dried up fungus man – and instructed the fungus-man to run through the dungeon screaming, in order to draw the bear-monster after him. This worked a treat, and the party were able to use the distraction to encourage the Yurlings to eat Orma’s chains and free her. With the terrified, excrement-covered priestess in tow, the party decided to search out their weapons and then take revenge on Mother Yarot, the head of the Pelerine Order that had trapped them down in this hell-hole.
Sister Orma led them to an underground waterway, which would lead them to a step-well that the Pelerines drew water from. Halfway along this waterway, the party were attacked by a red-slime coated skeleton creature. They hacked at it with improvised weapons, and Findus used his turquoise eye-lasers on it, but the creature didn’t seem to be dying, so in the end the explorers ran past it.
The first session ended with the party entering the step-well, and then exploring a mosaic-decorated storeroom, which contained their missing weapons and items. Flim-Flam was especially delighted to be re-united with his cyborg hawk Midnight. The party paused to eat some of the Pelerines’ food, and allow Orma to clean up and put on fresh clothes.
Our second session picked up immediately after this respite. The party decided to put on Pelerine robes themselves, in the hopes they would be mistaken for Priestesses and be able to move through the temple unchallenged. I warned them that it was unlikely anyone examining Crunk, Findus or Flim-Flam closely would be convinced that they were members of an all-female religious order, but allowed that it might serve to disguise them at a distance. They ascended the stairs into the temple proper, seeking revenge on Mother Yarot. Sister Orma wanted to escape the temple, but the party wanted to make sure nobody else was sacrificed to the beast underneath the temple.
They headed into a room where two temple slaves were cleaning large industrial tanks. The party passed themselves off as Pelerines, ordering the slaves to lead them to Mother Yarot. The gambit worked and slaves duly obeyed, leading them through another medical ward, where the party surprised one of the junior Pelerines, Sister Bluefennel. A battle ensued, with the large and surprisingly tough synthetic priestess putting up a decent fight, severely wounding Crunk and Findus with her blade-like hands before being crippled and finally killed by Findus’ eye-lasers. Emboldened, the PCs followed the slaves through a court-yard and the grand Chapel of GAEA, finding the doorway to Mother Yarot’s sanctum behind an ornate tapestry.
Flim-Flam burst into Yarot’s sanctum with his twin pistols ‘Matrix-style’, finding an old true-kin woman meditating on a prayer mat. Flim-Flam filled her with lead, critically wounding the High Pelerine, but was then ambushed from above by Yarot’s two loathsome bodyguards, a ferret-like creature with a hypodermic needle for a head, and a snake-monster with a human hand for a head. A lengthy fight ensued, in which Crunk grappled with the snake-monster, Findus killed the ferret with an eye-laser blast, and Film-Flam executed Mother Yarot at close range with both pistols. Hearing gunshots, two temple guards came to Yarot’s aid with spears and swords, but Findus blinded them with tear-gas and the party easily dispatched them.
Looting followed, with the party moving aside Yarot’s prayer mat to find a stash that included a mystery vial of liquid, a book, and a golden necklace. Crunk also took a sword from a temple guard, and Flim-Flam stole Mother Yarot’s golden cage-like headdress. As a final act, the PCs summoned the surviving Pelerine priestesses to the Chapel of GAEA, and installed Sister Orma as the new High Pelerine. They further instructed the terrified woman that they needed to find a new way of keeping the beast in their dungeon alive and producing healing milk, without using unwilling sacrifices. Flim-Flam executed another of the women at close range to underscore this point, and swore to return to wreak more havoc if word reached them that the Pelerines had continued to sacrifice travellers. With this, the party left the temple, with the whole of Vaarn waiting for them to explore.
NEXT TIME: A rowdy night in an inn, and the open road.