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The Cody Book Club

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1×08: Day Eight

  • Everything goes to crap straight away. The bugs smash into the house and open up with non-lethal munitions clearly intended to capture. James, J.P. and Shane are quite promptly glued in place, while Damien is partially webbed. Meanwhile, John – who had been sleeping in a guest bedroom – reacts to the sound of the attack and lunges out of bed, grabbing his rifle as he does; at the same time, Reece is outside the house with Woola, working on the truck, and responds as well … though it’s a considerable distance for him.
  • When John enters the fray, he does so with gunfire, which shifts the tempo of the engagement. Using cover to his advantage, he manages to avoid getting webbed and critically injures one of the bugs and outright kills a second. Simultaneously, Chandler manages to work himself free and retrieves his weapon to engage a third one before pursuing his fleeing ex-wife, Valerie. Reece finally enters the engagement and uses his shotgun to excellent effect, though he is unable to prevent Damien from getting gooped once more which ensures that Valerie can escape. Wells finally manages to get free and fires a single shot with the Desert Eagle he took from the prepper’s bunker; he quite quickly learns that he isn’t anywhere strong enough to use it effectively, but by this point, the fight is nearly over. The last of the battle bugs are taken out and Damien has an eyewitness view of Valerie fleeing into a waiting craft of some sort. There’s nothing he can do to prevent her from escaping…
  • Over Buffalo, additional bug ships can be seen and the locals take numerous ineffective potshots at the craft overhead. Realizing that Valerie was after the photos that Damien informs them of, the “book club” gather their gear and plan for a rapid departure, pausing only long enough to warn the local authorities about the dead bugs now in Chandler’s backyard.
  • Pressing on to the south, the group continue for a bit, pausing long enough for Reece to swap out as driver in a vain attempt to get some sleep; he suffers from intense insomnia and has not been able to sleep properly over the last few nights. While dozing, he has a strange, lucid dream of an odd-looking man standing before Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. The next time they stop, he quizzes John about this, knowing that some of Heinlein’s odd training under his Grandfather included dream interpretation. Though it about two hours out of the way, the crew decide to head to Devil’s Tower out of curiosity, some of them halfway convinced that this is just another example of the ongoing weirdness.
  • They arrive to find … nothing. This seems like it was a monumental waste of time and gas, and Reece is exceedingly embarrassed about the fact. Chandler decides that, while they’re here, he’s going to climb Devil’s Tower; everyone else just begins setting up a camp for the night.
  • And then, they see aerial combat between several unfamiliar but terrestrial-looking warplanes and bug ships; the bugs are shot down, much to the great delight of those on the ground, though they quickly go back into survival mode when the planes begin circling the area. A third aircraft approaches – it is clearly a transport craft of some sort and displays VTOL ability as it approaches and lands in the parking lot before deploying a small robot thing to sweep the area. A grizzled badass-looking old man exits the plane and Reece gets up to meet him. The man informs Sheriff Burroughs that they’ve been looking for the group. And who are they, Reece asks?
  • They’re X-COM.

Player Notes:

  • OMFG, the opening firefight was so irritating from a dice rolling stand. Heinlein could not roll under 14 for entirely too long and two of the PCs were either completely out of the fight or so far away that it took forever to get into the fight. Lessons learned. We need AP rounds.
  • Evidently, we completely threw the GM for a loop when we simply threw our plans out the window and headed toward the dream location instead of continuing toward Cheyenne Mountain. Meanwhile, we all thought that was what he wanted us to do. I’m sure he’ll gripe about it on his blog.
  • No game next week, but the week after I (Rigil) will be running Banestorm III: Embers of Defiance, season 3. Wheeeee…

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.

The Cody Book Club

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1×07: Day Seven

  • At about the same time that John realizes there is a flying saucer in the sky, multiple characters also recognize that little grey aliens are near them as well. Closer to the plane, Chandler sees one of these creatures and is psionically stunned, while Wells finds himself puppeted and sent toward the plane to retrieve something. Eventually, the two will manage to struggle free of this alien’s control, likely due to its decision to bug out following the events that surround his ally below.
  • Simultaneously near the truck, Robert (who was going off to take a leak) cries out in shock and dismay when another grey alien mentally dominates him. Multiple people converge upon them – John with the squad automatic weapon (SAW); Reece with his pistol; Shane with a rifle – and the alien (who is keeping Robert between him and them) mentally attacks them. Heinlein responds with a burst of gunfire that misses the alien … but tears into Robert, killing him instantly. Reece opens up with his pistol, but finds it to be not very effective against this thing, and as Shane gets into position, John opens up again with the SAW and cripples the little grey bugger by mostly blowing off a foot. As it starts to crawl away, Shane will take a shot with his rifle and cripple one of the thing’s arms. To their surprise, it then vanishes (much like the one that Chandler and Wells are dealing with does as well.)
  • Unfortunately for the alien, John visually follows a trail of ammonia-like blood and fires a short burst that miraculously catches the grievously injured alien and kills him instantly. Later, when they rejoin one another and discuss options, they decide to take the Grey with them for further study, but have to wrap it up in a tarp due to the acrid smell of its blood. Robert is also wrapped in a tarp for the time being, until they can figure out what to do with his body. The saucer itself has departed and the second Grey has vanished, so at the plane, they discover that there are numerous crates within, though there is a suspiciously blank space where one should be, indicating these aliens got what they were looking for.
  • As an extremely ominous storm front races toward them, the team press onto the town of Ten Sleep where they quickly determine to hold up at the nearby school to ride out the storm. This proves to be a little more difficult than expected as the precipitation and wind are brutal, tearing open roofs and flooding the streets. They emerge on the other side a little worse for the wear, and opt to shelter in place overnight rather than press onto Buffalo.
  • In the morning, John and Reece bury Robert in the nearby cemetery while James watches; Wells conducts a rudimentary autopsy of the Grey alien with a little bit of assistance from Chandler while they’re doing this and learns some things. They briefly consider ditching the alien here, but decide to hand it off to the Buffalo authorities once they arrive as proof of what just happened.
  • Arriving in Buffalo soon after, the crew promptly split up, with Damien heading straight to his home while the rest coordinate in their usual manner with local officials who are hesitant to take the alien corpse off their hands but do so. When they track down Chandler at his home, they find that he has already located the photos he came for. They begin plotting their next step: travel to Cheyenne Mountain while steering clear of Denver. A circuitous route is hammered out…
  • Later that evening, as Damien is gathering supplies, he hears someone using a key to unlock the back door. To his surprise, it is his ex-wife, Valerie! She expresses surprise to find him here and they exchange cool pleasantries before she asks about their wedding photos. Damien pretends that he has no idea about them, and the two basically circle one another like hunting cats. Valerie notes the presence of others and abruptly notes that she brought friends as well. She gestures to the back door…
  • And Damien sees soldier bugs outside!

Player Notes:

  • John shooting Robert was absolutely hysterical. In any other game, I would never have taken that shot because there was an ally in the immediate vicinity … but John is Impulsive so I decided, what the hell? Missed the alien, then Gigermann had me roll again, capped at 9 and I rolled a critical success. One of the rounds that hit Robert nailed him in the skull and that weapon does 5d pi so … oof. John has already convinced himself that it was the alien’s fault and, luckily for him I suppose, all three of the other PCs got mind-whammied at least once during the fight so it isn’t entirely unbelievable.
  • Killing the alien was also an instance of unexpected critical success. Once again, I probably wouldn’t have taken a blind shot with most characters, but the Impulsiveness gave me an excuse.
  • Wells conducted an autopsy of the dead Grey and the GM declared that he’ll know “some things” should it actually come up later.
  • As soon as “Boomer” showed up, absolutely everyone jumped to the conclusion that she was a cylon.

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.

The Cody Book Club

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1×06: Day Six

  • We begin with a quick flashback to establish Chandler’s “MacGuffin.”
  • Back to the present, John and Reece have come under fire from Howard the prepper but, with Shane’s assistance, they talk the guy down and manage to convince the guy to let them enter. Not trusting this guy entirely, John decides to stay outside with James. Everyone else (except Robert who continues lounging in the truck) descend into the bunker where they discover that in addition to the dude, there is a timid-looking woman named Michelle present.
  • In the bunker, pleasantries and information is exchanged before Howard shows the team around the bunker itself so they can admire how well everything is setup. During this, first Chandler, then Reece are able to discreetly chat with Michelle, during which they both learn that she’s not here willingly. While Howard is showing Chandler and Wells the gun room, Reece tells Michelle to get out … this leads to Howard wildly overreacting to the sound of the door being opened & closed. He locks Chandler and Wells in the gun room and charges out, opening fire on Reece the moment he sees him. Reece retaliates with better aimed shots and drops Howard (but doesn’t kill him.)
  • Following this, the team attempt to figure out their next steps with Reece opting to take both Howard and Michelle to the local Jackson police department. While there, they learn that a large majority of the people are packing up and getting out of Jackson because, since the EMP, they’re now down to the last dregs of their supplies. Meanwhile, back at the bunker, the rest of the team are raiding the heck out Howard’s guns and other supplies, opting to “borrow” his better truck.
  • The team spend the night at the bunker, then head out the following day, intent on heading toward Buffalo where Chandler has certain photographs stored that he wants to recover. While en route, they find themselves pausing in various communities to pass on information, much to Heinlein’s frustration who thinks that’s a waste of time.
  • En route to Buffalo, while on a causeway that leads to a bridge, the team observe a bus approaching from the opposite direction. Chandler actually notes that these guys are armed and passes on a warning to his allies; as feared, the bus turns hard in an attempt to block the route and armed thugs pile out and begin setting up ambush points. Far behind them, the crew can hear motorcycles revving up as they lunge out of concealment. Unfortunately for these ambushers, John now has a squad automatic weapon in his possession and he pops up onto the roof of the truck to clear the path. Wisely, the would-be ambushers opt to get the hell out of the way and not pursue.
  • After pausing to warn the various communities about the would-be ambushers, the team press on toward Buffalo. A little before they are able to enter the city, they observe an old plane that has crashed in a nearby field. This is a very old plane, but has obviously recently been downed. Chandler immediately diverts his ATV toward the plane to investigate while Reece stops the truck to wait. Heinlein setups to provide cover with the SAW.
  • And then, he sees a freaking UFO…

Player Notes:

  • The delay in this recap is entirely my fault. I was feeling lazy. Again. Plus, I was reading the new Dresden Files book.
  • Not a whole lot to actually discuss here. The game was fun and we managed to avoid getting sucked into a potentially ugly firefight.

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.

The Cody Book Club

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1×05: Day Five

  • Inside the bunker, the team begin discussing what they’ve found and the electronic voice announces that it is changing to English for understanding. A recorded message of Heinlein’s Grandfather appears, though he does not have the stoop and appears to be moving more quickly. This recording begins in a language that no one recognizes but shifting to English and stating that he is not from Earth, but rather from a world far away. His name of origin he gives as Rabaka Wepwety Arth, and he is a “Bystander of the Glorious Taareh Kingdom of Qebe.” His entire crèche was inserted onto Terra in 1909 after being surgically altered to blend in; they were tasked to observe and report sign of the “Defector,” known to them as Gen-Hisis, one of the “Masters” who fled the “Sk’ranu”. He adds that these Bystanders have been noting increased solar and NEO activity, so they expect an invasion soon and will likely be the first targets.
  • Terra’s best hope for survival is the Defector, according to Grandfather … er … Rabaka Wepwety Arth. Gen-Hisis has been kept in secret under a “Project Genesis” and was recently relocated from Area 51 to somewhere in Colorado, probably Cheyenne Mountain, after some sort of “incident.” The recording also references a datachip with all knowledge about the Sk’ran – which the team presume is the name given to the bugs – and states that this bunker will be destroyed once they leave to avoid it falling into enemy hands. With that in mind, the team spend the rest of the night studying what they can in shifts.
  • Despite there now being questions about his origin, Grandfather is laid to rest in a traditional Arapaho ceremony attended by many of John’s cousins. They look at him askance when he tells them the truth but generally shrug when he offers to show them the proof in the bunker below. His son, James, is a little troubled too; if they’re part alien, does that mean they’re going to develop powers? John has no idea but promises to be there for him nonetheless.
  • In the morning, after sealing up the bunker so it can self-destruct, the team set out once more, aiming for Fort Washakie, Wyoming. They are not on the road for very long when they observe a cloud of flying insects. They do no real damage – apart from smearing themselves all over the windows and exposed people – but it is still a troubling event regardless. A plague of locusts … is a rain of frogs next?
  • They pass on, eventually reaching a bridge that is partially out. Even worse is the presence of an old station wagon that is tottering on the lip, barely balanced in place. Calls for help from the car reveal that it is occupied by injured! The team scramble out to assist, with everyone but John actually being rather helpful; in the water nearby, Jules notes another of those drop-pod things. Based on the angle, he suspects that the pod smashed into the bridge and broke it. As everyone is coordinating to rescue the trapped civvies, a new kind bug waddles up on the bridge. John is having none of this, however, and goes for his rifle immediately, riddling the thing with bullets; later, he will note that the bug’s dangerously sharp-looking “beak” and opts to cut it free with an intent on turning it into a makeshift katar or hay bale hook for later. The others will successfully extract the injured men from the car, one of whom needs some emergency medical attention from Jules. They exchange stories, learning that these men are heading toward Seattle despite the fact that it seems to have been lost because one of them has a fiancee there! Damien, being a selfless sort, gives the men some extra rations to make up for their lack, earning a grumbled complaint from Robert.
  • While investigating, they also discover what appears to be a bunch of bug eggs under the bridge. No one questions the decision to use some of their fuel to set these eggs on fire.
  • From the bridge, both groups backtrack a bit to find an alternate route over the river, then continue on their respective ways. The team observe a wandering herd of bison on the road which slow them down a bit, before passing through Dubois – hilariously pronounced “Dew-Bois” in Wyoming instead of the more traditional French “DOOb-WAH” – though they do pause briefly to pass on the usual intelligence to those in positions of authority.
  • Some distance north-west of Dubois, they encounter a wildfire on one side of the road; some campers are present along with some local, mounted ranchers, and they tell a tale of a surprise attack by some sort of … fire creatures. There is some discussion about how best to proceed – everyone is quite concerned over the fire spreading, but none of them have the ability to properly fight it – but both John and Reece are not caught by surprise when they see a trio of unusual-looking bugs creeping out of the forest. Recognizing these from the bunker’s data as fire-breathers, the two immediately open fire and cut down the creatures; one of them explodes upon death, causing another fire. An effort to retrieve the campers’ gear is considered but promptly discarded as they all note the scope of the fire. Instead, they pile the campers into the truck and backtrack to Dubois to drop them off before resuming their trip, this time having to brave the fires a bit.
  • Entering Jackson a short time later, they proceed directly to the prepper’s bunker, halfway expecting everything to blow up around them while they’re there. They discover the prepper’s house to be effectively abandoned, but there is an entrance to the bunker nearby along with an outbuilding some distance away. While John bangs on the bunker’s door, everyone else mostly spreads out to investigate; Damien will discover that the owner appears to have been a SeeBee in the Navy and Reece discovers someone has written HELP ME in the outbuilding window. John momentarily observes a woman with a cast on her foot appear inside the bunker through a second door but she’s wrestled out of sight by another man. When Reece joins him, they discuss options before John hits upon using the super-sharp bug’s beak to cut in. They are surprised at the the ease with which it cuts through the steel (though cutting through metal is rather loud) and in mere moments, they’ve got a fairly decent-sized hole that they can shout through and be heard.
  • And then, the man John saw earlier pops into view, shouting “Die, commie alien scum!” before opening fire with a firearm!

Player Notes:

  • The delay in this recap is entirely my fault. I was feeling lazy. Again.
  • Giger and I have worked a bit on figuring out the Taareh culture principally for The Verge, my Traveller campaign set in this same universe (though many centuries later and thousands of light years away.) He used the same naming sequence for Grandfather – translated, his name would be Rabaka, Bystander, Earth – that we developed there, though the addition of dogs not liking Taareh is new to this game … but will show up in mine at some point as well. It’s kind of neat to see how that back-and-forth has worked out.
  • Lucky for us that Heinlein decided to take a trophy from one of those bugs! I’d already considered having him start taking trophies from these critters, but the way Gigermann described the one with the long beak made me think it was important. When I had Heinlein use it against the steel door, my thought was “Huh. That was some pretty good set-up on his part.” Imagine my amusement when he told me later that it was just a happy coincidence and he’d already forgotten that I had the pseudo-knife.
  • Speaking of it, I was envisioning making it into a jury-rigged katar or maybe a hay bale hook; CommJunkee suggested the fishing gaff but strongly recommended not just Googling “gaff” … I second that recommendation after having accidentally done so.
  • I was amused that Gigermann did not expect me to have watched 10 Cloverfield Lane which he’s ripping off and was quite surprised when I recognized that plot device; I don’t recall it very well, but I did watch it once. Sorta. Though it’d be more accurate to say I just sort of let it play in the background while I was doing something else. I think I only watched it because I like Elizabeth Winstead.

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.

The Cody Book Club

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1×04: Day Four

  • The massive … thing descending from the sky passes over the now stopped truck and heads in the direction of the immense crater that was a large section of Cody, Wyoming, hours earlier. Tentacle-like things emerge from it and meet similar ones now reaching up from the crater. To the horror of those in the truck, the tentacles combine and the larger craft appears to dock … or at least that’s what they hope it’s doing. Soon after, the ground shakes and hundred of missile-like things are launched from the alien construction and vanish over the horizon in all directions.
  • Pressing on to the south with Chandler acting as a scout on his ATV, Reece angles the truck toward a known ranch where he wants to regroup and figure out their next steps. They find the ranch empty of people and spend a few minutes confirming that there are no surprise bodies lying around. After finding none, they turn toward examining the corpse of the bug they took with them from the firefight earlier. It is quickly determined that this thing is only superficially a “bug” as it seems to be a mixed up mess of numerous different species…
  • And then, to their surprise and horror, the corpse begins to move!
  • Burroughs and Heinlein react first and unload on the body to ensure that it stays dead; when it seems to pull something from his belt, Heinlein, thinking it is a grenade, soccer kicks it away, then turns to cover his son. It does not explode, however, and several of the team decide to investigate it in more depth. They discover it seems to be a smaller bug of some sort but it has been smashed so its functionality is unclear.
  • There are four survivors in the truck, three of whom are injured. Curtis Washington is a local deputy and has a head injury; Sandra Hart is a rancher with a broken arm; Shane Reddy is from out of town and was on vacation – he is the only one uninjured; and then, there is Robert Little, whom John has little respect or interest in. Robert immediately seeks out alcohol and begins guzzling it. At the same time, Sandra begins pestering the team for a return to Cody to rescue her husband who she saw being abducted, by the bugs; when it is properly pointed out that the team needs more people and a lot more guns, Shane mentions off-hand that he knows a guy who is a prepper with actual machine guns and rockets.
  • John and James go apart from the others along with Julie’s body. Together, they assemble a small cairn of rocks over her while John gives her a traditional Arapaho funeral service. Reece discreetly joins them and uses this as a way to momentarily allow his grief for his parents to come to surface. Robert is noticeably absent, which John notes with some fury.
  • Upon discovering a diesel-fueled ranch truck that still runs, the team load up the two functioning vehicles up with spare supplies before finally crashing for several hours. When they depart the still empty ranch, Heinlein pauses long enough to free the animals, much to the approval of Reece and Sandra, both of whom have ranching backgrounds. Along the way, overhead, they observe a pair of Air Force jets engaging against one of the bug craft much to everyone’s pleasure, but this turns to despair when both jets are easily shot down.
  • They press on to Meeteetse where they discover the locals are trying to determine their next course of action. Some Cody survivors have managed to stumble their way into the town, so the locals are aware of the attack in some capacity. Here, Curtis and Sandra intend to remain behind due to their injuries when the team depart, intending on heading west to Jackson where Shane’s prepper friend resides. Heinlein is all for leaving Robert as well, but young James asks the drunk to accompany; unwilling to let his son down, John snatches the bottle out of Robert’s hands and warns him in a low voice to get his shit together or Heinlein will bury him somewhere in the desert. He isn’t joking.
  • At dawn, they set out again, leaving the diesel-powered truck behind. They head south for some time until they note a crashed … pod of some sort in the yard of a house. Realizing that this is one of the things launched the previous night, the team decide to investigate further, leaving behind Shane, a now sober (and freaked out) Robert, and young James (who is wearing Burroughs’ second-chance body armor). Advancing tactically, they discover the house has been broken into and is filled with some sort of strange secreted resin. Inside, they discover at least one person who is stuck in the resin … and then, strange critters start lunging out of the darkness to attack! The team withdraw, though Chandler tears the survivor free. Outside, Pratchett-Wells goes into full-on medic mode and stabilizes the mortally wounded man. Deeming the house a lost cause, the team pull back to the truck and ATV.
  • They press on to Thermopolis where Burroughs debriefs the local authorities who are ignorant of Cody’s fate; the badly injured man pulled from the house is given over to local medical experts. Not seeing anything else they can accomplish here, the team mount up again and head out. They pass through Shoshoni some time later, pausing long enough to update the local authorities in the same way.
  • Upon reaching Grandfather’s house, John and James enter alone, knowing that the crotchety old man probably won’t react well to a bunch of strangers on his property. They find him in the basement, sitting in his chair and mummified. It’s another loss for John and an unexpected one at that. He brings the others in to let them know and have Pratchett-Wells check out the body to ensure it isn’t foul play; the EMT looks over Grandfather’s body and theorizes that this is due to a massive dose of radiation.
  • At about that moment, James speaks up: Grandfather’s “no-no room” is unlocked. John steps into the closet to investigate and is momentarily blinded by a flash of light. An electronic voice speaks, using a foreign language that John does not recognize; the back of the closet slides open, revealing … an advanced-looking control panel in a bunker of some sort.

Player Notes:

  • The delay in this recap is entirely my fault. I was feeling lazy.
  • Well … crap. John was expecting to get a data dump from Grandfather … and now he’s dead! It’s been a tough couple of days for Heinlein (and Burroughs too, since he lost his parents the night before. But he doesn’t count since he’s not writing these!)
  • I was fully expecting facehuggers in that house because Gigermann has an unhealthy attachment to the Aliens franchise.

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.

The Cody Book Club

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1×03: Day Three (Continued)

  • Debris has finally stopped falling and all of the characters find themselves buried under dirt due to what appears to be a massive explosion deeper within Cody. They immediately begin digging themselves out. Reece is the first out, and he quickly starts trying to extract others so they can begin working on search-and-rescue ops for other potential survivors.
  • During the SAR op, Chandler discovers the body of Reece’s mother, but does not advise him at the moment, thinking that the deputy sheriff needs to focus. John also finds his ex, Julia, but she’s pinned down and clearly mortally wounded; with their son freaking out over this, John promises to look after him and holds her hand until she passes. Later, he will be disgusted to learn that Julia’s useless boyfriend, Richard, somehow survived with minor injuries.
  • Few of those pulled from the debris are alive and most that are still alive happen to be mortally wounded beyond what Wells is capable of dealing with as he’s only a paramedic. Among those grievously injured is Reece’s father who passes away soon after.
  • At Reece’s direction, the survivors endeavor to get clear via the truck (and Chandler’s ATV) that is half-buried as well. They are now on a time-table as Chandler, the expert in landslides, is greatly concerned that the whole mess that was the Burroughs ranch is going to collapse entirely. As they are struggling to get the truck clear, a squad of the attacking bugs top the rise, forcing those upright to scramble for cover and ready weapons.
  • It takes a great deal of firepower to drop these things, and in the process, the other surviving, uninjured sheriff takes a round to the head which kills him instantly. Fortunately, he is the only casualty, but even one is too much. When the last of the bugs has finally stopped moving, the team scramble to make good their escape, pausing only briefly to strap one of the dead bugs on the back of Chandler’s ATV (so they can examine it in more detail later.)
  • As they flee to the south, some of the survivors are able to see large flying … things erupt from the ground and take up a stationary position over the ruins of Cody, though they have spotlights and seem to be searching for something. Abruptly, an immense, ground-shaking trumpet-like sound is heard coming from the south.
  • And then, they see something else descending to the south…

Player Notes:

  • The delay in this recap is entirely my fault. I was feeling lazy.
  • I’d already mentioned to Gigermann that the firefight which dominated the back half of the session felt entirely too static somehow, though I don’t know how it could have been better. We got a clue about how much damage we need to dish out to drop one of the bugs but in retrospect, they probably should have been more aggressive and acted more tactically. Still, it’s early days and with the way we were rolling, a TPK would not have been out of the question if they’d pressed us harder.
  • I had been considering whether to buy Julia as an Ally for Heinlein in order to keep her alive, but alas, I was too late.
  • I’d already joked with Giger that somewhere, there was a Lieutenant Commander Shepard who has been warning everyone about this attack but nobody listened to him or her…

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.

The Cody Book Club

Live Stream
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1×02: Day Three

  • Having learned that Seattle was evidently the target of some sort of attack, Burroughs attempts to learn more, but only knows that there is a ham radio operator with eyes on and he’s been iffy in terms of contact.
  • As Wells is pressed into service, Burroughs opts to wait to tell Heinlein that he is being released and charges are being dropped until Julia arrives to take James home. This irritates Heinlein, but the revelation that he’s suffering from radiation poisoning is bothering him more!
  • Having been on duty for several days straight, Chandler heads toward his motel room where he’s planning on trying to get his ATV functional again (which he does), while Burroughs and Heinlein head toward Burroughs’ apartment (since Heinlein doesn’t actually live in Cody) so they can all get some sleep. Wells, however, is put back to work at the hospital.
  • Around 1700 local, a pair of F-15s conduct an unexpected flyover and are clearly looking for … something. Attempts to contact them are unsuccessful and they eventually disappear over the horizon.
  • Word begins to spread: the mayor is having a town meeting where he will lay out the plan for moving forward. Burroughs, Chandler, Heinlein and Wells all attend to learn what they can. Evidently, on Friday, everyone blacked out for 11 hours and 38 minutes and that there was a massive EMP that has rendered the vast majority of electronics useless. Thirty people in Cody have died as the result of this. He also mentions that they have rumors that Seattle is gone, but some U.S. government still exists as they’re still trying to find that info out. They’re planning on assembling volunteer scouting/rescue parties to spread out in all directions to make contact with other cities and rescue stranded people.
  • Burroughs and Chandler go to the former’s parent’s ranch with an intent on borrowing the elder Burroughs’ old truck … and some of the horses. Burroughs discovers his father is suffering from a cold and the two naturally get into an argument as the older man is utterly uninterested in people “borrowing” his horses; Chandler intervenes and does manage to cool tempers enough to get the truck.
  • The four end up volunteering to head south for the scout/rescue op; Heinlein suggests also hitting the Rez – though he’s mostly wanting to check in on Grandfather – and the team began planning out a route while prepping their kits. Rather than traverse the entire way to pick Wells up from the hospital, Burroughs offers his apartment as a rally point and a spot to crash for the night. Only Chandler doesn’t accept as he’s got a nice motel room. Everyone begins to doze off around midnight…
  • Abruptly, the sound of an explosion from relatively nearby wakes them all up. Being curious and impulsive, the entire group end up venturing out to investigate where they find numerous other locals doing the same. They discover a large crater where a local church once stood and, as they move in for a closer look, dozens of what look like smoke grenades begin erupting around it; as a former soldier, Heinlein immediately recognizes LZ tactics even as a sound similiar to that of cicadas overwhelms everyone. Shadowy figures spring up from the hole and through the smoke – they’re nominally humanoid-shaped but with the darkness and the smoke, it’s hard to tell. These figures advance, firing weapons that are rather silent, though there is still the distinct sound of rounds whistling by. Some of the locals respond with gunfire … and are quickly cut down. It’s time to retreat.
  • Quickly falling back, the team rally at Burroughs’ apartment long enough to grab their gear and throw it in the truck; Chandler and Wells head straight for the police station as the sound of gunfire erupts all throughout Cody, indicating that these … things are spreading out. Burroughs follows them in the truck with Heinlein providing overwatch from the bed, though they slow long enough to let fleeing and injured citizen crowd in.
  • At the police station, Burroughs turns the keys over to Heinlein, already knowing that his friend is planning on making a beeline to get his kid clear, and joins the assembling SWAT. Nearby, another loud impact occurs and they realize that these … things are about to swarm the cops. With Wells now in the truck bed providing what medical aid he can, Heinlein peels out, leaving Burroughs and Chandler with the cops.
  • And the fight is on. The cops open fire on the things swarming out of the hole, dropping some of them and taking a few casualties themselves. One of the things is momentarily highlighted in a spotlight and is revealed to be some sort of humanoid bug … but it was only backlit for a moment so surely that was a trick of the eye. Recognizing that their position is untenable, the surviving police begin to retreat, with Chandler scouting the way on his ATV.
  • Heinlein reaches his ex’s place and immediately springs out to bang on the door. They’ve got to go now! A third impact crater happens nearby and the sheer amount of gunfire being heard throughout Cody plus the presence of terrified and injured civilians in the bed convinces Julia to get in with James (who jumps into the front) and her boyfriend, Whatshisface. They depart at a high rate of speed, sweeping wide around Cody before doubling back toward the Burroughs family ranch.
  • Meanwhile, the retreating police scramble through Cody, intent on getting to the airport; many of the officers are not in the greatest of physical shape and, as a result, flag behind, but they are lucky to discover a functional vehicle at the airstrip. Using it, they manage to reach the Burroughs ranch where they discover Heinlein arguing with Burroughs’ dad over the use of horses with the former soldier planning on heading back into the mess to rescue his friend
  • A plan is hashed out with much arguing along the way: some of the locals are going to stay here on the ranch and secure it temporarily while Burroughs, Chandler, Heinlein and Wells head south to locate a more defensible location. There is shouting and crying and confusion as everyone tries to adapt to these new circumstances.
  • And then, the ranch blows up.

Player Notes:

  • Well, that was a game changer. I must congratulate the GM on “subverting our expectations” (and not in a crappy Rian Johnson “The Last Jedi” way) as the first half the session made it seem like the game was going to be a “Jericho” tv series kind of game with us gradually learning what had actually happened. Then he yanked the rug out from underneath us.
  • We kept ending up in locations where the GM had randomly predetermined would be the impact sites of bugs, which was amusing in and of itself. As I understand it, he was also not expecting us to all be so clustered together at the beginning, nor did he expect us to head for the ranch which explains the way he ended it.
  • Heinlein was almost not at the apartment when the initial onslaught began; I rolled a control roll for his Impulsive disad and, if I’d failed it, he was going to go over to his ex’s place. At oh-dark-thirty in the morning. Yeah, that’d have gone over well.

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.

The Cody Book Club

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1×01: Day One

  • John Heinlein, upon seeing his son with bruises and his baby-momma’s boyfriend chastising the boy, presumes the worst and beats the man down before absconding with his son. Heading south toward the Wind River Reservation, he hears the Amber Report go out across his police scanner and realizing that his intended route is likely patrolled, he tries a different way … and his car dies. They walk from here!
  • Damien Chandler, an Australian expat currently working for the US Forestry Service, is off-roading and happens to see Heinlein and his son abandon the car. He calls this in and learns about the Amber Alert; he’s instructed to remain in place and wait for backup.
  • Deputy Sheriff E. Reece Burroughs, who has known John for years, races to untangle this mess before his old friend puts him in deeper trouble. From John’s ex, Julia, the deputy sheriff learns that her son, James, was in a fight at school, which is why he has bruises, and John overreacted without thinking. When Chandler’s report comes in, Burroughs heads straight there, but following standard procedure, also calls in EMT support.
  • Jules Pratchett-Wells, a local EMT, is getting lunch with his partner, Tucker Charleston (who has the odd nickname of “Turk”), when the call comes in, so they load up and head south to hook up with Burroughs and Chandler.
  • The three manage to easily catch up with Heinlein and his son as John is thoroughly loaded down with gear. A tense stand-off ensues that is only exacerbated by the sudden arrival of Bob, another deputy sheriff, who has his gun drawn and is shouting for John to drop it and get down!
  • And then things get weird. John suddenly wakes up and finds himself face-down, handcuffed, and lying on a body. He is nauseous and dizzy, and has no idea whatsoever how he got into this situation. Everyone else gradually regains consciousness as well, equally confused with missing time. They all quickly determine that their electronics are fried, prompting several of them to theorize an EMP strike of some sort. It is also now morning. Chandler hikes toward a nearby campsite, while Burroughs and Heinlein put Deputy Bob into a body bag which they place in the now powerless EMT van. The Aussie returns on a bike after checking in with campers.
  • The group begin hiking toward Meeteetse, reaching it soon after the sun has gone down. There, they discover that everyone else is experiencing the same memory loss following the blackout and power is out everywhere. John continues to deal with persistent dizziness, much to his frustration.
  • In the morning, Chandler seeks out a local tractor that is really old and manages to get it running; the team use this tractor and a trailer normally used for ‘hayrides’ during festivals to return to their dead cars to retrieve gear (and a body bag.) They pick up several locals at the campsites as well and take them to Meeteetse.
  • From there, they start making their way toward Cody via the slow tractor. En route, they note a number of strange contrails in the sky and then later discover a strange-looking meteor that has crashed to earth, shattering the road and carving a great furrow in the dirt. J.P. takes a sample from the bizarre meteor before they all continue toward Cody.
    Soon after, they discover a rolled bus that has crashed off the side of the road; it bears a Federal Depart of Corrections logo and Burroughs recalls that the U.S. Marshals were supposed to be transporting some federal prisoners yesterday. He investigates, finding a dead marshal but no prisoners.
  • Onto Cody they press, discovering a city on the verge of panic due to the missing time and loss of power. The first place they head for is the hospital so they can put Deputy [WHATSHISNAME] in the coroner’s office and have John checked out at the same time; Heinlein will be later identified as suffering from minor radiation sickness!
  • Checking in with his boss, Burroughs learns that John’s ex and her boyfriend are (inexplicably) not pressing charges against Heinlein, but more importantly, before the blackout, he (the sheriff) heard … multiple cities like Denver and Seattle were hit by unknown parties…

Player Notes:

  • And thus, this “season” of Earthfall begins.
  • During character creation, we intentionally decided to all have last names of famous sci-fi authors. This naming goes back to a different game Gigermann ran in a face-to-face group that I was a part of, wherein we were the “Gun Show” and every PC had the last name of a gun manufacturer (so we had a Barrett (briefly before the player had to drop due to work), Colt, a Remington, a Smith and a Wesson).
  • It’s early days so we’re still getting a feel for our characters as of yet and, in retrospect, there are a couple of things I could have done with Heinlein to better be “in-character” – I intentionally did not have him struggle more after we woke up since the GM established that he was persistently dizzy during play. So he was biding his time and trying to avoid throwing up. It does occur to me that he probably doesn’t actually live in Cody but rather, lives on the Wind River reservation, so he likely doesn’t have a home in the city…
  • Being quite aware of what “Earthfall” means in the GM’s context and having played in his previous “post-apocalypse” game, I’m probably more aware of what’s coming than everyone else … which will fit with the character’s backstory. Still, I could not help but notice the amusing similarities to Jericho which oddly puts Heinlein in the Jake Green roll in a lot of ways.

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.

Command Crew of the Graceful Dame

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I-XII. Ashore at Nassau, New Providence. Monday, February 5, 1725 Anno Domini

  • As the smoke clears, the crew turn to evaluating the butcher’s bill. Doctor Spenser looks to Leftenant Rogers and Mister Bold first, determining that they are not grievously injured. Mister Adler also has some minor neck wounds that require bandaging; later, when the adrenaline has worn off and he has a moment to think on it, the doctor realizes that Mister Atwell, the man in Barbados who gave Captain Hayden the letter for Adler (and looked identical to the man) also had his neck bandaged … in much the same way …
  • A squad of redcoats eventually arrive to investigate the shots fired, but are satisfied that the thugs were guilty of criminal activity, including assault and kidnapping, so they take them into custody. Excluding the dead man, of course.
  • At the same time, an elderly local widow named Abigail informs Doctor Spenser that she has extra beds and sufficient medical experience to assist; the doctor gratefully accepts her offer, then oversees the relocation of his patients. He is forced to return to the ship briefly to retrieve his surgical instruments and, in doing so, alerts the rest of the crew of the impending surgery required to remove the pistol balls. They all decide to come along for moral support and open curiosity.
  • With assistance from Miss Abigail and Mister Adler, the doctor is able to expertly remove the dangerous pistol balls from his two patients. To everyone’s great confusion, he first hypnotizes the two men into relaxing; it is an odd skill that many have likely never seen before. The surgery goes extremely well, but he expects a proper recovery to be a week or more on land; Captain Hayden and Sir Randel consider, then agree to delay here for that time.
  • After the surgery, Mister Adler begins telling the rest of the crew a story about the late Captain Jack Rackham dropping (either accidentally or not) a bag of black pearls offshore of Nassau early in his career as a pirate. Sometime back, Mister Finley, the merchant whose daughter the crew just rescued, found one of those pearls in the surf, but was too loud (and a little too drunk) to keep this as quiet as he should have; Mister Adler later suggested that, should anyone come asking about these pearls, to tell them that pearl was found in a specific location nearby with an eye toward redirecting anyone looking for them there. He thought nothing would come of that until the ruffians showed up to abduct Miss Lyla who has revealed that they were asking about the pearls; Mister Adler suspects that the ruffian who escaped is likely going to his employer, so they should watch the location to determine who is behind this. Unfortunately, Mister Adler continues, he is about to be taken into custody shortly by Captain Doyle, the commander of the redcoats here on Nassau, so he would like to ask the crew to investigate this further. The crew agrees.
  • And exactly as he said would happen, Mister Adler is taken into custody by Captain Doyle and his redcoats. This leaves the crew to their own devices and, after consulting, Captain Hayden and Sir Randel decide to stake out the beach location that Mister Adler referenced. but rather than doing so personally, they hire some local children to do it for them. This works out nicely as Sir Randel is woken in the night by one of the watchers, and then gathers Captain Hayden, Doctor Spenser and Mister Palange to investigate.
  • There, they find Captain Doyle, alone and furiously digging along the beach. The crew’s attempts to be stealthy are poor to say the least, and Captain Doyle reacts by drawing his pistol, though he quickly blanches at the numbers arrayed against him … and the sight of Mister Palange’s massive wall-gun. Sir Randel takes the lead in the discussion with the man, learning both that Mister Adler has mysteriously vanished and that Captain Doyle is obsessed with finding the black pearls. After a quick exchange of words, Sir Randel forces Captain Doyle to back down by blatantly threatening to destroy the man’s reputation by spreading word of what he did to the merchant and his daughter. Defeated, Captain Doyle retreats, having agreed to pay some restitution to Miss Lyla and her father. Once he has departed, Doctor Spenser retrieves his abandoned shovel in the event it might be useful later; in the dirt, he finds one of the black pearls, which he later shows to Sir Randel.
  • The following morning, the La Dame Blanche arrives in Nassau, much to Sir Randel’s displeasure. Soon thereafter, he receives an invitation to dine with Maurice Boissonade, his rival. At this meal, the two men hide their distaste for one another with false politeness, and agree to a wager: the man who fails to find this treasure will pen a letter to English and French newspapers professing the greatness of the one who did find it. Sir Randel also agrees to allow Monsieur Boissonade to look at the compass, providing the Frenchman takes him along to meet with a Captain Morgan expert here in Nassau.
  • One of Monsieur Boissonade’s crew, Remi Leblanc, is present to look upon the compass intently, hinting at an eidetic memory, before Monsieur Boissonade and Sir Randel proceed on to meet with the Captain Morgan expert who turns out to be none other than Handsome Ned, who Sir Randel shot in the head on Île-à-Vache. Handsome Ned initially seems to not know what Sir Randel means when he is asked about having met previously, but subtle clues in the man’s body language indicate he knows full well what he is being asked. Information is exchanged – Sir Randel learns a few new things, as well as realizing that he is aware of some things that Monsieur Boissonade does not – and they part ways, though not after Sir Randel strongly implies to his rival that “Handsome Ned” cannot be trusted. At all.
  • While this is going on, Captain Hayden seeks out word of a man named Friendly, believed to be a friend of his son, Matthew. He learns that Mister Friendly resides on Harbour Island, overseeing a trade house, and the captain makes plans to head there next.
  • Days pass as Doctor Spenser oversees the recovery of Leftenant Rogers and Mister Bold, while the rest of the crew grow increasingly bored of tiny Nassau. Captain Hayden, who is suffering from some chronic pain of his own due to his cancer, spends a great deal of time in Widow Abigail’s house, reading to the bedridden Leftenant Rogers and Mister Bold, while Sir Randel makes a point of spending a great deal of time with the island’s upper echelons, both to establish contacts but also to enure Captain Doyle knows that Sir Randel knows people in the right places. Mister Palange spends this time working on gun repairs. During this time, the crew also brings aboard a proper carpenter to handle some minor leaks, then have him conduct a more in depth examination of the Graceful Dame.
  • Three days after the unexpected meeting with Handsome Ned, Sir Randel is wandering around Nassau with Dora when she abruptly tackles a sailor and tears his watch away from him. Not entirely sure what’s going on, Sir Randel nonetheless takes her side and tosses a handful of shillings at the man when he reveals that he bought the watch from a pawn broker at Grand Cayman. After escorting her back to Widow Abigail’s house, he explains what happened to Doctor Spenser who is best able to understand Dora; from her, the doctor learns that this watch belonged to her late captain, killed when she was taken captive.
  • On the 11th of February, the La Dame Blanche departs Nassau in the morning, and Doctor Spenser agrees that Leftenant Rogers and Mister Bold will be hale the following day; in thanks for her assistance and housing of them, Doctor Spenser gives Widow Abigail the black pearl that he discovered earlier, even though she insists that no such payment is required. The entire crew is very ready to get back on the seas – though Mister Sherd does seem to have grown rather attached to Miss Lyla and seems disappointed to depart her company – and set sail early on the 12th, finding the winds increasingly gusty. Those most familiar with the weather sense that a dangerous storm is approaching, though it should hit after the Graceful Dame arrives at Harbour Island, and indeed, this comes to pass, with them arriving at the isle late in the day. Securing the ship for bad weather, the crew go ashore where Captain Hayden seeks out Mister Friendly to discuss his son, from whom he learns that Matthew sent a coded letter indicating that he was on the run and hiding out. Mister Friendly believes that Henry Murphy at Old Providence may know more about Matthew’s ship.
  • As the storm rapidly approaches, Sir Randel and Doctor Spenser hear a bosun’s whistle and investigate, whereupon they discover a stranger abducting Dora! Without hesitation, the two men charge forward to effect a rescue…

Player Notes:

  • And thus, this “season” of Sea Dogs comes to a conclusion.
  • Herodian ducked out early; this was the session for it, since Leftenant Rogers was bedridden for quite some time.
  • The surgery went better than expected – as Artegal’s player, I was almost disappointed in that. I didn’t actually want a PC to die during surgery, but I must admit, it would be a hell of a story. Next time, I promise myself…
  • To be honest, I’d completely forgotten that Dora had been given the bosun’s whistle until after the game.

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.

Command Crew of the Graceful Dame

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I-XI. Departing Port-de-Paix, St. Domingue. Thursday, February 1, 1725 Anno Domini

  • Following his near death experience the night before, Captain Hayden seeks out Doctor Spenser who spends some time examining him and grimly confirms what the ailing ship master already suspects: time is running out for him.
  • The Graceful Dame sets sail that morning, leaving Port-de-Paix behind. For several days, they make good time until, on the third day, they encounter a British schooner struggling to make forward progress. The schooner is grossly undermanned and, upon investigation, it is learned that all of their truly skilled sailors, including their captain, were impressed into service by an English Royal Navy ship encountered some days past. Geoffrey de Saloman offers to captain the schooner, provided they further carry him to the American Colonies. At this, he departs, wishing the Graceful Dame good fortune.
  • The rest of the journey to Nassau is uneventful, with the Graceful Dame arriving before midnight. When dawn breaks, the crew go ashore, with Captain Hayden and Leftenant Rogers seeking out Raynard Adler to deliver the missive from Mr. Atwell. Upon reading this letter, Mister Adler pauses and then asks the captain if he has some men willing to aid him in rescuing a young woman from a band of ne’er-do-wells. Being British gentlemen, both naval officers immediately leap at this. And they absolutely have some additional men who can assist.
  • An explanation is forthcoming once the crew is assembled: evidently, Mister Adler ruffled the feathers of some ill-bred men who took their revenge upon the daughter of one of his friends. She is even now being held captive in a rundown warehouse here in Nassau, and he wishes to rescue her while simultaneously teaching these ruffians a lesson they’ll not soon forget. Mister Adler will cause a distraction at the front of the warehouse, while the crew attack from the rear.
  • The plan plays out quickly, with Sir Randel opting to use his grappling hook and rope to go up to the second level were the hostage is being held while the rest of his crew rush the door; Doctor Spenser momentarily attempts the climb, but quickly finds it beyond his abilities and follows the others. He enters to find his fellow crew members already engaged with the ruffians and, upon seeing one on the upper level intending on charging his friend, Sir Randel, the doctor murmurs something in Latin whereupon the man question abruptly finds his footing poor and falls to the ground; later, by the time he has regained his feet, the ruffian finds Sir Randel aiming his pistol at him and decides to flee via a window. On the ground floor, the skirmish has turned into something of a rout, with Leftenant Rogers leading the way with his now bloody sword. His aggressiveness wins the day, but has a cost: both he and Mister Bold, who had accompanied them, are felled with bullet wounds that will require surgery, always dangerous, to repair.
  • But the day is won nonetheless…

Player Notes:

  • Man, we were really rusty with combat…
  • We probably should have asked a few more questions of Adler before rushing off … but hey, we’re playing Brits and he dangled the proper lure – a damsel in distress – before us…
  • I (Rigil) was quite pleased with how the Coincidence power worked out. Looking forward to using it more frequently in the future.
  • With both Leftenant Rogers and Mister Bold shot, that means … surgery! Cue maniacal laughter. It will be quite interesting to see how that plays out since historical surgery conditions are always dangerous propositions. Spenser is actually quite a good surgeon, with a 14 in the skill, but once you factor in all of the various modifiers, he’s down to a 7 or so.

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.