VAARN ACTUAL PLAY: EPISODE 8

Last week, the party explored Gnomos alongside their host, the robot book-dealer Wormwater. They sold a book, bought a sword, and attempted to ingratiate themselves with the city’s occupying military force. We last saw them caught in the middle of a gang brawl in a rough bar.

Our cast: 

  • Flim-Flam, a two-headed cacogen Adept. Proficient cook, fights with twin pistols. Owns a cyborg hawk named Midnight, who has been dispatched on a scouting mission.
  • Findus, a newbeast Mystic. Horse-man with mystical eye-lasers, a quicksilver spear, and a parasitic spirit entity. 
  • Crunk, a true-kin Warrior. Taciturn, impulsive. A lover and a fighter. Good at catching goats. 

We jumped straight into the action, with Flim-Flam and Crunk standing at the bar in the Orange Ibis, a rough drinking establishment. A brawl had just broken out amongst two rival gangs – the ‘Snowy Owls’ who wore white, and the ‘Pink Flamingos’ who wore… you can guess what their colours were. Findus the New-Horse had leapt behind the bar when trouble started.

A New-Rooster with a wooden club squared up to Flim-Flam, while Crunk was accosted by the squat muscular fungus-man he had wrestled to the floor last week. The fungus-man tried to stab Crunk, but the dagger bounced off his armour. Flim-Flam shot the club out of the Rooster’s hands and he backed down. Crunk grabbed the fungus-man in a headlock and demanded that the creature call him ‘Uncle’ (this will become relevant later). The fungus-person apparently could not speak, so they continued to struggle. 

The brawl continued for some time. Flim-Flam ended up fighting the bouncer, a burly cacogen with one huge arm, and shot him dead. The PCs decided, on a whim, that they were supporting the Snowy Owls in this totally pointless conflict, and used their weapons and powers to help out the gang in white. Crunk managed to convince his fungus-man opponent to help him out in a fight with two Pink Flamingos: a centaur-like mutant and a crab-man. Findus ended up fighting the leader of the Pink Flamingos: a New-Flamingo (what else?) who wore a pink leather jacket and talked somewhat like Elvis Presley. Findus knocked the rockabilly Flamingo-man to the ground and forced him to surrender, ending the brawl. 

The party rested up, assessing the damage they’d caused, while the Pink Flamingos slunk off defeated and the Snowy Owls raided the bar’s wine supply. They searched the bouncer’s body, finding a small metal disc engraved with an unknown marking. It was getting dark, so the PCs decided to return to Wormwater’s abode for the night. They brought with them ‘Ben’, the street urchin that Flim-Flam had adopted to save him from a life of petty crime at the behest of ‘the Magician’. They had also won the support of the mute fungus-man, who Crunk had decided to recruit to the party full-time by giving him the biotech water-draining weapon they’d found in the desert ruins. The fungus being could only communicate by giving Crunk a ‘thumbs up’ gesture, to general amusement, but he seemed friendly enough. 

On the way back to Wormwater’s shop, they were challenged to a little street-gambling by some disreputable gutter dwellers. Flim-Flam bet the urchin boy Ben(!) against a strange glass sphere with stars inside it. Fortunately he won the dice roll, and the grumbling gamblers handed Flim-Flam a brand new item, which he pocketed. 

Back at Wormwater’s, there was debate about what to do the next day. Crunk wanted to learn how to speak with his fungus friend, and Wormwater mentioned a fungus expert named Carrow, who lived on the eastern side of Gnomos. However, the party eventually settled on tackling the ‘Magician’, a Fagin-like figure who was apparently responsible for Gnomos’s child pickpocket problem. For some reason they decided that they needed to enlist the help of Gorsk, the barge-boy from the ‘Oblique of Understanding’, in this endeavour. The party sent Crunk and his fungus-man companion (who Crunk’s player had christened ‘Nephew’, I believe as an alternate method of asserting his position as ‘Uncle’), to negotiate. Crunk and Nephew reached the ‘Boy Zone’, the recreational establishment frequented by Gnomos’ barge-boys, and managed to talk their way inside by name-dropping Gorsk. The barge-boy was pleased to see them again, having had no idea what had happened to Crunk after he jumped off the Oblique to fight the hivey-men several days ago. However, Crunk was not able to convince Gorsk to raise an army of barge-boys, as the party had hoped. He managed to extract a promise from Gorsk that he would personally aid them if he could, although the boy said that Nashir’s barge would be leaving Gnomos again within a few days. Crunk and Nephew jogged back to Wormwater’s house and the party called it a night. 

The next morning dawned bright and still. They ate some breakfast with Wormwater, and were intrigued to see that Nephew ‘ate’ by touching food with his hands and absorbing it into himself. There was some debate about how best to ‘level up’ Nephew’s powers by having him eat more things. Eventually the PCs headed out to tackle the Magician. They followed Ben’s directions to a peacock statue on the southern outskirts of Gnomos, amongst many abandoned graves and long patches of grass. The party dispatched their orphan-boy Ben to fetch Gorsk from the barge-boy hangout, hoping that two child soldiers would be more effective than one. They then hid themselves amongst the grass and settled down to wait. After an hour, they saw two other child thieves emerge from a hole in the ground at the peacock statue’s base, but Ben and Gorsk did not show up. After a few more hours, they grew restless, wondering where their young allies had gone. They decided to check out the Magician’s lair unaided. 

The PCs and Nephew descended into the hole at the statue’s base, finding themselves in an underground complex of sewage-filled tunnels. They split up, checking in three different directions. Flim-Flam found a chamber rigged with a precarious contraption made from debris, which he decide not to disturb. Crunk and Nephew found an empty chamber, while Findus was ambushed by a miniature white crocodile, which leapt up out of the sewage and latched onto his leg. 

What followed was a surprisingly desperate encounter, with Findus reduced to single-digit HP by the tiny, voracious lizard. After many whiffed rolls he did finally manage to subdue the beast, aided by Crunk and Nephew. Their fungus-man companion proceeded to take hold of the crocodile corpse and absorbed the creature’s flesh into his own, fashioning himself a new snapping hand from the crocodile’s jaws (don’t say I never listen to player suggestions). Thus equipped they explored a few more identical looking underground rooms, becoming more irate as they realised they’d found themselves lost in a maze of waterlogged tunnels (sorry fellas). We ended the night on another cliffhanger, as the party disturbed a nest of grey grasshopper-like beings that dropped from the ceiling to confront them. 

GM THOUGHTS – as ever, a great time had by all. Lots of humour and weirdness this week, with ‘Nephew’ becoming the new favourite joke of the party. Crunk’s player is very pleased to have an NPC follower that he recruited, and is keen to learn how to communicate better with his fungus friend. I had fun role-playing the mute mushroom man, who understands around 80% of what Crunk tells him, but can get confused about important details. 

I was happy that they finally made their way to the Magician’s hideout, although there’s a lot of it they haven’t seen yet so I can’t say too much about my design ethos. This is our second ‘proper’ dungeon, and the first since they broke out of the Pelerine temple six weeks ago. Looking forward to continuing next Sunday.  

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