Register a SA Forums Account here!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
Aug 23, 2009

Honest guesses: The PCs are going to watch do all the work and aren't going to get to kill the Horsemen themselves, they're going to escape somehow, or somehow this is all part of their plan and the PCs sole effect on the plot is to make everything even worse.


Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Kavak posted:

Honest guesses: The PCs are going to watch do all the work and aren't going to get to kill the Horsemen themselves, they're going to escape somehow, or somehow this is all part of their plan and the PCs sole effect on the plot is to make everything even worse.
Don't mind me, just quoting this for Reasons. Nothing to see here.

e: Oh, hey, page 333. Now I can become Godwalker of the Metaplot Heavy RPG Reviewer.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.

You did it!

Alright I still hate Brave New World's premades for having no sensible flow of events but gently caress me it's awful seeing Unity in motion. Barf.

Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
Man, I hate these Guided Tour premade adventures where there's ONE THING to do in a given location, and then its on to the next place whether the players want to or not.

Apr 9, 2008

Can I come out and play?
My God, it's not the first time I've seen game designers fail Gaming Rule 101 "Let players actually PLAY your game", but Unity is the most spectacular failure I've read I think. Yeesh it's almost physically painful to see.

And while Jasper Stone's tale of time-traveling bullshit is similarly disgusting, I have to admit I did find it funny that Deadlands de facto recognized the Reckoners were doomed to fail in the face of PCs without that kind of fuckery. It's pretty much a given there'd be several PC groups who figure out how to "win" Deadlands, even more figuring out a victory that's worse than the initial problem ("Let's get everybody hooked on happy drugs so we get stinking rich so there's no fear to feed on!"), and several other groups joining/supplanting the Reckoners and showing them how to REALLY terrify the world. If only they could have embraced that fact instead of having to play God to make sure their own little story came to pass. Not like you couldn't have just written off the different game lines with a simple assumption of alternate worlds rather than insisting the meta plot had to stomp its way through all of them in order.

Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

The fact they keep writing down dialogue for PCs shows just how bad of a railroad it is - even BNW's and Torg hasn't done that yet.

Jan 7, 2015
This adventure is less interactive than an overly long cutscene with Quick Time Events. Let that sink in for a moment.

Robindaybird posted:

The fact they keep writing down dialogue for PCs shows just how bad of a railroad it is - even BNW's and Torg hasn't done that yet.

Did I mention that I've found at least one WEG Star Wars adventure where the GM is actually supposed to hand the players a script with lines to say? Which serves no other purpose than the PCs explaining their mission to themselves?

Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!

I swear, you could replace the PCs with a cactus on a skateboard with one of those water-drinking birds taped to the top of it to agree with all the NPCs and the plot wouldn't substantially change.

Jan 7, 2015

Ratoslov posted:

I swear, you could replace the PCs with a cactus on a skateboard with one of those water-drinking birds taped to the top of it to agree with all the NPCs and the plot wouldn't substantially change.

Most Visual Novels are more open-ended than this.

Aug 23, 2009

Doresh posted:

Most Visual Novels are more open-ended than this.

"Get on the plot railroad!"

-> "Duuuh, okay"
-> "I would prefer not to"
-> Put it in

Saguaro PI
Mar 11, 2013

Totally legit tree

Evil Mastermind posted:

Side note: who gives a poo poo if this particular artillery piece survives to be used again later? It's not like it's going to be come a recurring NPC or something, it's just a friggin' Howitzer.

Relevant reference to much better adventure: In the Godlike campaign Black Devil's Brigade there's a bit where a previously unimportant German tank driver can snap and have talent powers - in this case the ability to make his tank hop about the battlefield like it has jump jets - manifest. If he and his tank crew survive the engagement they can turn up later.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011


Evil Mastermind posted:

Don't mind me, just quoting this for Reasons. Nothing to see here.

e: Oh, hey, page 333. Now I can become Godwalker of the Metaplot Heavy RPG Reviewer.

I'm on the first chapter of Last Call, and it's a weird feeling understanding/guessing the plot of a fantasy novel because of a (technically) unrelated RPG. And it ain't subtle, I've already run into about half the major elements of Unknown Armies. Except if UA was slavishly following the book, it would be the one using poker chips for resolution.

Does any genre need railroady metaplot LESS than 'Weird Western'? That's a setting that can incorporate a literarily unlimited number of weird encounters in its umbrella, everything from Fallout to El Topo to, apparently, Dune. The final showdown should be a high noon duel with Stone.

Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

Saguaro PI posted:

there's a bit where a previously unimportant German tank driver can snap and have talent powers

This is actually a really good idea and an excellent way to have mechanics work with the setting. A WW2 where anyone, even the most terrified recruit or office clerk, can suddenly manifest a superpower is a brilliant setting.

Count Chocula posted:

The final showdown should be a high noon duel with Stone.

As is so often the case, the problem with mighty setting NPCs goes away the instant players are allowed to meaningfully interfere with them. A character who is actually a noted gunfighter's future self sent back to ensure a future WW3 is a great idea for a villain.

Dec 23, 2012

Doresh posted:

Most Visual Novels are more open-ended than this.

Jul 24, 2013

Grimey Drawer

Doresh posted:

This adventure is less interactive than an overly long cutscene with Quick Time Events. Let that sink in for a moment.

Did I mention that I've found at least one WEG Star Wars adventure where the GM is actually supposed to hand the players a script with lines to say? Which serves no other purpose than the PCs explaining their mission to themselves?

Done right that could actually be kind of cool. Give every player part of the mission brief then ask for them to plan out the mission in character.

Jan 7, 2015
Except the mission was already planned and the PCs weren't casually talking about their mission because nobody knew the whole picture, but because this was essentially the briefing for the players. The PCs themselves were telling the players what's going on.

At least the game requires your input in order to proceed.

Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.

Grimey Drawer

Doresh posted:

Did I mention that I've found at least one WEG Star Wars adventure where the GM is actually supposed to hand the players a script with lines to say? Which serves no other purpose than the PCs explaining their mission to themselves?

I think they did that in the sample adventure for one edition of the corebook. At first I thought the GM had misunderstood a play transcript, then had him recite the completely irrelevant page of text instead. Don't think we got past the first encounter.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008


Part 6: Save vs. Dying Horribly In The Cold Void Of Space

When we last left our heroes, Hellstrome was telling them that they had to take the magic Hellraiser puzzle box containing the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to an alien living planet, where they (the Horsemen, not the PCs) will be weakened to the point where it'd actually be possible to kill them (again, the Horsemen, not the PCs).

He also tells the posse that, in order to get to Banshee, they have to get on a ship called The Unity, which was the first ship Hellstrome used to break into the WarpHunting Grounds. Unfortunately, the ship's currently in geosynchronous orbit from when it was abandoned after the attempt to colonize Banshee went to poo poo in the events that happen before Hell on Earth officially starts. Hellstrome lays out what the PCs have to do to get to Banshee:
  • Get to the spaceport.
  • Contact an AI-run satellite called ComSat and persuade it to send down a shuttle (there are space stations up there, as well as the Unity).
  • Travel to the Unity.
  • Restore the ship's power by bringing the nuclear reactor back online.
  • Go to the engine room and say the word "Apostolos". It's a (significant pause) code word that'll bring the AI back online.
  • Have the AI instruct the group on how to get the ship ready to go. "Make sure at least two of you make it there. You’ll need two bodies to properly follow the computer’s instructions."
  • Point the ship at the Faraway system, and AI will do the rest.
Once on Banshee, the PCs are to contact some of the established NPCs who are running the colonization and military operations there.

(And yes, there's an actual spaceport in this setting. There's only been one interstellar flight ever, and that was to Banshee, but there are numerous orbital platforms and stations in play. For the most part, they didn't have much of an effect on anything.)

Before they arrive at the spaceport, the PCs have the golden opportunity to ask Hellstrome pretty much whatever they want about the Deadlands setting. Hellstrome knows pretty much every secret there is (I know, shocking), and is willing to answer any questions they might have.

One of these might well be "why the hell did you serve a Horseman of the Apocalypse"; the reason is because the Reckoners needed humans who willingly chose "evil" to perform Their work on Earth, either directly or indirectly. Hellstrome never really chose to serve Pestilence in the sense that he knew who Pestilence was and made the deliberate decision to follow her, but Hellstrome's willingness to pollute the hell out of the world via heavy industry (not to mention creating and building radiation-spreading bombs) put him firmly in her camp. His backstory is given in detail in a later chapter, assuming we ever get there.

Two questions that Hellstrome won't answer are "hey, can we swing by those space stations you mentioned and get some gear? We're running low on pretty much everything," and "Why don't we just launch this cube into the sun/deep space and call it a day?". The reasons presumably being "because you don't get to choose where you go in this adventure" and "because metaplot."

It's only a half-hour drive to the spaceport, so there's no real time for the group to restock before contacting the shuttle, not that it matters because there doesn't seem to be anywhere to restock. Well, I mean, there is but they're being tricked into thinking they're on a strict timer so they might not try.

Interestingly, no consideration is given to the idea that the posse just drops the box in the middle of the road and goes somewhere to get shitfaced before the world ends for reals. I mean, technically it's in the group's best interests to destroy the Reckoners, but still. It's a surprising omission given the rest of the adventure, given that they keep finding ways to herd the players back onto the One True Path.


The journey itself should be fairly easy—have everyone make a Quick Combat roll and add +4 to their rolls. Whoever mans the Stuart’s guns does double casualties.
Double casualties? Well whoop-de-do! It doesn't matter how many casualties everyone gets because they're not whittling down forces or anything. They might as well just be playing for points on a leaderboard.

There's nothing going on at the Spaceport, so the group can just head for a comms relay to contact ComSat. ComSat is a sort-of established NPC: a lonely, now-paranoid AI that's been helplessly watching the fall of humanity from orbit and unable to do anything about it. It was presented in an early sourcebook as a potential "mysterious benefactor" NPC who could send hints and such through communications gear.

The thing about ComSat, as we'll soon see, is that it will (for some reason) only communicate via commercials, both edited by itself and unedited. Kind of like Bumblebee from the first Transformers movie, but dumber.

Oh, right, the PCs were at the Spaceport.


The spaceport sat at the edge of the Colorado blast, but it was close enough to fry its electronics and incinerate most of the folks who worked there. What’s left are a series of long runways that look just like any major airport, a number of ruined buildings, and the blackened hulks of tankers, luggage trolleys, and even a few old spaceships. A number of massive hangars survived as well, but campfires burning within should warn the posse away from the muties who have taken
up residence inside.
But what if the posse isn't warned away? Then the muties and survivors just retreat because they don't want to mess with people who look like an actual threat. Also, the group thinks they're on a deadline, so they're hopefully focused on getting to the Unity.

The posse's ultimate goal is the control tower, which has various still-functioning radar dishes and communication hardware. They can figure this out by making a very simple electronics skill check, assuming someone has it, but otherwise the GM is going to have to tell them this. Getting up the tower is a little more difficult, since it's partially collapsed. The only way up is via an old external fire escape (do control towers have those?) that's seen better days. It takes three pretty hard climbin' skill rolls to get up them...but failing the roll means you fall, taking 2d6 stabbed-by-rebar damage on top of the falling damage (it's 30 yards to the top of the fire escape). Oh, and if more than 300 pounds are put on the fire escape, the whole thing collapses. Given that that's about two adult humans worth of weight, that seems pretty likely. It also begs the question of what happens if the fire escape collapses before everyone (or anyone) gets up there, since (as stated) that's the only way into the tower.

The adventure assumes everyone gets up to the control room, so I will too. At the top of the tower is a bunch of computer hardware in a poor state of repair, as well as a clearly labelled monitor that says "ComSat Uplink". The power's out, though, so someone needs to faff around getting everything plugged back in. This requires two separate skill rolls (scavenging and either tinkerin' or science: electronics).

What happens if they fail those rolls, or don't have someone with the needed skills in the first place? Well, uh...hey, look over there! (running feet noise, car door slam, tires screeching into the distance)

So again we have to assume everyone has the right skills and makes their rolls. When everything powers up, a microphone next to the monitor turns on; it's apparently supposed to be obvious that ComSat responds to voice commands. I mean, it's an AI and there's no mention of a keyboard, so I guess it wouldn't need much of a logic leap. Speaking into the mic makes the message "ComSat Active" appear on the screen. Then nothing happens until someone says out loud they need to get to the Unity.


Then a strange thing happens—a commercial plays:

The cracked screen goes from black to an old commercial. In the commercial, a well dressed man stands before the spaceport. He says “Here at Noble Corp, the sky is not a limit. Our new deep space research vessel, the Unity, has the most advanced technology on the planet. It features state of the art artificial intelligence and a drive so secret even the government doesn’t know about it. But machines are only as good as the people who use them. That’s why we’ve chosen veteran shuttle pilot Colonel Mark Hazard to command our first journey into deep space. Watch on March 26th as the Unity begins its historic mission. The world will never be the same.”

The screen freezes on the last frame, the announcer’s face caught in a permanent smile.
Believe it or not, this is a setting knowledge test.

See, ComSat is paranoid, and thinks that "quizzing" people this way will protect it from access by bad guys because demon-powered abominations wouldn't know world history. Unfortunately, the players may not realize that this is actually a test.

The test is to see if the PCs notice the mistake in the commercial: that the Unity was built by Hellstrome Industries, not Noble Corp. If one of the characters says this out loud, then the next commercial starts.


The screen went black for a moment, but now it’s back. This time you see a man in a suit kissing babies and shaking hands with common folks. A banner at the bottom of the screen reads: “President Romero. What’s best for Texas and the rest of the Confederacy.”
The change here is that Romero was president of the United States, not the Confederacy. Pointing this out will start the last commercial.


The screen goes black when Romero is revealed and another commercial begins. This one shows nothing but a ticking stopwatch followed by a spinning book of noxious green that rushes out at the viewer.

“Tonight on 60 Minutes. Was the Last War predicted by a Sean Hanson roleplaying game made in the late 1990s? And if so, is his startling vision of apocalypse unavoidable? Ingrid Honnaker and Joel Tuchman find out tonight on 60 Minutes, for September 24th, 2081.”

Believe it or not, the mistake here isn't that they put their RPG inside the setting itself as a "predicter of things to come" like that's not embarassing all around. The mistake is that the nukes were launched worldwide on September 23, 2081, so this commercial couldn't have happened.

Now, here's the thing. These are pieces of knowledge that the characters would more than likely possess, particularly the last two. Of course, given how much backstory Deadlands has in general, the players probably won't catch the mistakes.


It is possible your players don’t know the answers to some of these questions. No sweat. Hey, we wrote all those “gray pages” for them to read, but don’t mind our carpal tunnel syndrome, bleeding fingers, and bloodshot, irradiated eyes.

The questions ComSat asks are fairly easy to characters of the Wasted West. The trick is just figuring out the commercials are questions. If your players do that, you can let them make Knowledge rolls to guess the truth (or to determine what’s wrong with each advertisement).

In any event, in the future, let those poor players read the gray pages of your books! Even better, make them go buy their own and learn about this world they’re playing in! We won’t complain.
Deadlands setting books and "class"-specific books always led off with ~20 pages of backstory about the book's topic, told in an in-character style by someone related to the book's topic. For instance, the Templars book "grey pages" were a first-person narrative by a Templar named Jo, who was part of the events that led to the founding of the group. Which was fine, and I honestly think that's a good way to present setting backstory, but these fiction bits always went into way too much detail about things most people don't care about. I don't need to know the details of the journey the founders of the Templars took before they started the actual organization, just high-level that stuff for me so I have a foundation for my character and maybe some plot hooks for the GM.

But beyond the "why aren't you reading our fluff" thing, the real problem here is that, since the characters would have the setting knowledge, they're still required to make rolls to know it. Now, I understand that most people who were alive in the setting before the bombs dropped would probably know who made the first interstellar spaceship (kind of a huge deal), who the President of the United States was when the bombs dropped (kind of public knowledge), and the date the world ended (again, kind of a huge deal), because that's common knowledge in-universe. But since that'd be common knowledge, why make the players roll in the first place?

The thing about putting a "make this skill roll to advance to the next part of the module" bit in your adventure is that you also need to answer the question "so what happens if nobody makes the roll?" Because that's possible. If the players don't realize the mistakes in the videos, and the characters fail the Knowledge rolls, then guess what? The adventure's over because there's no other way to get to the Unity.

The real problem is that the book, like many formal metaplot-leaning RPG modules of the time (*coughTORGcough*), never takes into account that the PCs might not make a required skill check, notice an important clue, or just not follow through on something the way the author expected them to. To be fair, there are one or two points where the book does take into account a failure (like the bit with the SAM), but they just boil down to "oh, have the posse fight some more monsters, I guess," with no impact on the overall narrative at all. But even then, this particular adventure is so heavily railroaded that the PCs don't even need to explore or find clues or anything; everything is presented in the boxed text.

That leads us to this insane loop of bad design. If the players don't know the setting details, the characters can roll to know it. Except that it's information that at least one of the characters should just know because it's ridiculously common knowledge, so why are they rolling to begin with? And if they fail the roll, then they're stuck, unable to proceed. But if the characters just know this stuff without a roll, then there's no real reason for this "test" because they can't fail it. And if they can't fail it, what's the point of the scene?

God this book is dumb.

So let's just assume everyone makes the rolls needed to know common, everyday knowledge. This display of basic setting facts somehow convinces ComSat that it can trust the PCs. It then uses edited-together security footage from the spaceport to show the posse how to get to a wrecked freighter named The Hesperast since it wants the PCs to go there. Once they take the hint, the screen flickers and shows another commercial.


As the heroes start to leave the tower, the terminal flickers on and off, hesitantly playing another commercial.

This one is unintentional, but as was stated in The Wasted West, ComSat’s a little screwy these days and can’t stop itself. Perceptive heroes might notice the heavy static and constant breaks in this commercial that show ComSat is trying to turn it off.

Those who stay to watch see a sexy lingerie model opening a can of fizzing cola, then pouring it into a tall glass. A sexy female voice then says “Bubbly Fizz. Mmmm.”

The voice was done on a computer and designed to reside subliminally in customer’s minds for days. Every time they see a bubble, something round, or even something that looks like a cola can, the voice runs through their head. Bubbly Fizz. Mmmm. Drive your group crazy by making them all say that aloud every time they see something bubbly or can-shaped.
Listen, Deadlands: Hell on Earth: The Unity, if I wanted to play Paranoia I'd just play Paranoia, okay?

Bouncy Bubble Beverage! It's the mandatory thing!

It's worth pointing out that the book makes a few "Bubbly Fizz. Mmmm" gags in the GM's text. Y'know, because it's "funny".

We are only halfway through this loving book.

So the posse gets to the wreck of the Hesperas. It's very clearly not going to fly again, but the group is expected to try and get into the cargo area. Doing so reveals that the cargo bay is covered in what looks like blood, but is actually red petroleum jelly that was part of the ship's last cargo. It seems that the only reason it's like that is so characters with the "Squeamish" drawback will have to make a roll to go in. Regardless, the actual reason to come here is because there's a few crates of undamaged spacesuits in the hold.

And since the PCs haven't had anything to do for the past God-knows-how-long, the ship's crew happens to choose this particular moment to rise from the dead. There's (PCs x 2) of them, and while they're not tough the fight is complicated thanks to the slippery, flammable jelly all over the place: -4 to all physical skills that involve moving (like melee combat or firing a gun if you don't brace yourself), and firing a gun has at least 1 in 20 chance of lighting everything on fire.

I hope the PCs don't set everything on fire and burn up the spacesuits, because otherwise they can't get to the Unity! :v:

Once that whole mess is dealt with (and assuming they didn't blow up the shuttle), a new shuttle lands at the station (remote piloted by ComSat), and when everyone gets in there's another broadcast.


A commercial suddenly flares to life on the ship’s cracked monitor. It shows a number of figures in power armor moving fast through a blasted urban scene and fighting what can only be a heavy can cyborg. Music plays, “Be all that you can be, in the Arrrrr-myyyy.”

A female voice-over says, “In the United States Special Forces, we kill more rebels before 9am than the Latin Alliance kills all year.” The picture then pans up the hulking power armor until it gets to the top. There the soldier takes off her imposing helmet to reveal a beautiful young girl of about 17.

Now a male voice cuts in. “Sign up now for the new spaceborne Marines and receive twice the usual recruiting bonus!”

A "beautiful girl of 17", eh? :crossarms:

Well anyway this is ComSat's way of saying that it's going to force the PCs to do it a favor before it takes them to the Unity. Attempting to override ComSat's control will result in the AI putting the shuttle into high gear, causing damage to anyone who's not strapped in.

Oh, and everyone has to make a hard stat roll or throw up because comedy.

See, ComSat currently has a bad case of cyborgs. Throckmorton had a few cyborgs set up on various orbital platforms before the Last War started, where they were waiting for Throckmorton's orders. Then the apocalypse happened and they were stuck in space, but since cyborgs are really just cybered up intelligent undead with onboard AIs, that wasn't a real big problem for them. They had orders to perform an orbital drop as part of the attack on Junkyard, but before they could launch the Junkyard shield was turned on, and since then the 'borgs have been watching the events of the past few days and (like us) have been trying to figure out what in the Wide World of Sports is going on on Earth.

Throckmorton's been trying to get these guys to come down and help defend Denver, but (and I quote) "the cyborg commander is pulling the old “bzzt—can’t read you, over” bit with his hand over his mouth" until he can get a better handle on the situation. He's sent two cyborgs to invade ComSat to get a better view of what's going on around Denver, and ComSat wants the PCs to get rid of them before it'll let them get to the Unity.

Tired of cable?


Just outside the shuttle is an old satellite about the size and shape of a grain silo. Solar panels and sensor prongs ring its perimeter. Marked clearly on its side, in big blue letters, is “ComSat.”

As you marvel at being in outer space, the shuttle’s monitor flickers on to show two children eating what appears to be soggy corn flakes soaked in blood. Audio booms into your suit’s radio:

“Tasty Flakes are yumilicious, nutritious, and made from algae harvested in the Red Sea! Children love the way it turns
milk red! Parents love Tasty Flakes because they’re wholesome, all-natural, and affordable!”

“Even Astronaut Flip Cheney loves Tasty Flakes! ‘They’re spacealicious!’”

The commercial now shows an astronaut floating in space around a United States space shuttle in a suit that looks exactly like yours. The video then pauses and zooms in to the suit’s various buckles and clasps. It continues to cycle through these close-ups, over and over.
ComSat is trying to teach the posse how to put the spacesuits on. Everyone needs to make a difficulty 9 (Hard) Smarts check to put their suit on; if they fail the roll then their suits will have air leaks, so please refer to my discussion before about someone with a slow Smarts stat getting shafted. Going out into space (which they have to do) with a leaky suit isn't immediately fatal, but it causes Wind damage (i.e., stamina damage) each round. You can fix the seal, but it's a whole-round action and now requires two rolls off different stats. If someone takes too much Wind damage this way, they flat-out die. Oh, and while wearing the suits they can't use small objects (like guns) because the gloves are too bulky.

Cyborgs, it should be pointed out, do not need spacesuits on account of being undead.

The cyborgs weren't expecting anyone to show up, so they've just pulled an access door off the side of the satellite and went inside. They're also not armed except for some wrenches and assorted tools since they weren't expecting any sort of trouble. That said, they're still really strong cyberzombies and can probably pull someone's arms off fairly easily.

ComSat stops the shuttle about 100 meters away from itself so the PCs can try and take the cyborgs by surprise. Leaping from the shuttle to the satellite is a fairly easy roll, but...


Losers who fail shoot slowly past ComSat and into the void. Those who go bust go racing past the satellite and off into the void. The suits have 16 hours of heat and oxygen left in them, so the group has a little time to figure out a way to rescue errant companions. Of course, this won’t keep most wasters from soiling their pants. ComSat is also quite sympathetic to the doomed—it pipes in the best of its commercials to keep the soon-dead character entertained during his last hours. Over. And Over. And over.
Why can't ComSat just use the shuttle to catch someone, since it's established that ComSat is driving the shuttle? Good question!

The trick of this fight is to take out the two cyborgs while doing as little damage to ComSat as possible. Since the fight is taking place on and inside a valuable piece of technology, every missed shot causes sparks to kick up or dents something that looks valuable, but really only has a 1 in 3 chance of actually doing serious damage, and ComSat won't get the PCs to the Unity until all that damage is fixed after the fight.

Oh, right, the fight. As stated, the cyborgs don't have weapons because they weren't expecting trouble. That said, they know that the best way to fight in this situation is to grab a screwdriver or something and try to tear open peoples' spacesuits. If it looks like they're certain to lose, they'll just "retreat" by leaping into space and hoping their buddies will swing by and pick them up.

Once the cyborgs are defeated and ComSat is fixed up (hope someone has the skills needed to do that!), it'll let everyone into the shuttle and pilot it on the 10 hour journey to the adventure's final act.

NEXT TIME: The moment you've all been waiting for!

Evil Mastermind fucked around with this message at 16:43 on Jan 29, 2017

Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
This is beginning to sound like an old tomb of horrors adventure where you just keep throwing PC parties at it until you achieve the right skill composition to fit their dumb lock considering all the ways that they can just flat out fail or die with no recourse.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.

Neat idea: AI can only talk through commercials and soundbites.

Awful idea: previous AI can also edit commercials to say/display something different but then pointedly refuses to speak directly to others and also attempts to quiz people without making it clear it's a loving quiz.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
The old psyker squinted at Hellstromme. "Certainly,", he pointed out in exasperated irritation. "A genius like you would would have worked out to let the reckoners kill Raven, and then you suck them up into your machine?"

Hellstromme had no scripted lines to reply with and thusly was unable to speak until... "Um... spaceport?"

Jan 7, 2015

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Hellstromme had no scripted lines to reply with and thusly was unable to speak until... "Um... spaceport?"

"Cannot parse command."

Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20

Alien Rope Burn posted:

The old psyker squinted at Hellstromme. "Certainly,", he pointed out in exasperated irritation. "A genius like you would would have worked out to let the reckoners kill Raven, and then you suck them up into your machine?"

Hellstromme had no scripted lines to reply with and thusly was unable to speak until... "Um... spaceport?"


Jan 10, 2013

The time for
has come!

Kurieg posted:


Hey...yeah, so....2009 called, it wants its joke back.

Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo

Mr.Misfit posted:

Hey...yeah, so....2009 called, it wants its joke back.

So like, the 90s called? And they want their joke back too.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.
Man, that trivia quiz. You really will read their backplot and you will like it, unwashed gaming scum!

Jan 7, 2015
Call me crazy, but I'm kinda bummed I never ended up in a Deadlands campaign with this wonderful adventure as the grand finale. I'd constantly make "Choo-Choo!" noises.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

It is time. Please, if you've never read anything else I've ever written in these threads, please read my next post.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008


Part 7: The Moment You've All Been Waiting For

We've finally reached Chapter Three: The Unity. I don't know why they named the adventure after a ship the PCs will only be spending two out of three sections of the last chapter on, and even then barely do anything onboard, but whatever. Let's just get through this.

And since this is the third of three chapters, that means that we're finally going to cover the thing I've been teasing all this time: the worst thing ever put in an RPG adventure ever. Just be patient, it's coming.

Now, I'm sure some of you are asking what the big deal is with the Unity.

poo poo you don't care about but I have to explain so I can explain the rest of this poo poo to you.
The Unity, as I briefly described before, was a colony ship designed to travel to the system of Faraway via what everyone thought was basically a wormhole. But as Hellstrome tells the PCs, it was actually travelling through Hell itself. This wasn't a problem on the way to the planet Banshee because Hellstrome used holographic technology and special technomagical defenses to prevent people from knowing what was really going on.

When the colonists arrived at the Faraway system, they began colonizing the planet they called "Banshee" Due to the howling winds. The colony was a joint venture between the US military and Hellstrome Industries, and each had a say in running things.

Things went bad pretty quickly due to the planet's indigenous species (the surprisingly Native American-esque "anouks") possessing powerful magic abilities and the fact that the leader of the military forces, General Paul "Overkill" Warfield, turned out to be a homicidal whack-job of the "genocide them all, salt the earth, piss on the salt, shoot anyone who has a problem with that" variety.


After a few dozen war crimes and an attempted military coup, a large chunk of the colonists and military folks decided that the whole thing was a wash and managed to get back to the Unity and point it back at Earth. The plan was to get as many civilians back home as they could, then return with military reinforcements to help stop General Warfield from wiping out every living thing on the planet that looked at him funny.

Unfortunately, on the return trip the shields and related systems malfunctioned, and everyone onboard suddenly knew exactly where they were. Especially when Hell began leaking into the ship.

The Unity re-entered Earth orbit as things were seriously Event Horizoning onboard. In order to let the remaning passengers escape, fifteen of the onboard sykers stayed behind and held off waves of demons so everyone else could escape. They were deservedly heralded has heroes (as soldiers who sacrificed themselves to save dozens of people would be), and are now known as "The Unforgotten Fifteen".

Unfortunately again, the suriviors got down to Earth to find out that the apocalypse happened while they were gone. Meanwhile, the Unity stayed in orbit and for the most part everyone kind of forgot it existed.

Until NOW!

(By the way, since I know you're wondering: this adventure was published in 2000. The Hell on Earth core book, where the Unity was first mentioned, was released in 1998. Event Horizon was released in 1997. Given how far in advance Deadlands' metaplot seems to have been written, it's possible that it's just parallel development. That said, if we were going to start seriously critisizing RPG books for being based on or derivitave of popular culture, we'd be in BIG trouble as a hobby so I'm just going to bypass that whole thing.)

The chapter opens with (no word of a lie) four pages of backstory about Hellstrome, how his wife died during the First Anglo-Sikh War, how he unwittingly (and unknowingly) became a servitor out of a desire for revenge for her death, went to the States to research Ghost Rock, helped found Desseret/Denver, developed the irradiated Ghost Rock bomb, found out how to break into the Hunting Grounds, made multiple excursions there, built the Unity and its engine the "Faustian Device", accidentally learned how to do long-distance travel through the Hunting Grounds, set up the Faraway colonization effort, and how the entire thing went tits-up on the final journey.

I'm not going to go into any detail on that stuff. Partially because I'm just trying to finish this book, but also because it's all pretty boring. I can do a summary post if people want, but for now we're just going to move on with the adventure itself since really, that sort of backstory is really only for the GM's bathroom-reading benefit.

(There's actually a third reason: telling you more detail right now would spoil something later this chapter, however.)


The shuttle’s monitors have been quiet for nearly eight hours, but now they suddenly flicker to life. You’re obviously looking at an exterior camera zooming in on a distant ship. It’s a long, sleek vessel that looks almost like some ancient, primordial shark covered in steel. The ship looks black, though it’s likely just the shining silver hull reflecting the infinite darkness.

You don’t see any major signs of damage from here. The craft seems intact, though powerless.

You’ve all heard rumors of the
Unity. How it was used to bring back the last of the Psychic Legion before the Tunnel collapsed and the Last War ended. You also heard that the sykers abandoned the ship when something got on board—something that killed most of the civilians.

The ship certainly doesn’t look like a “victim” from here. It looks more like a predator.

Your shuttle seems to be approaching from low and to the front. It shifts upwards and angles in toward a yawning slit that might be some sort of hangar bay—but it feels more like a mouth to you.
Actually, it's just the hangar bay.

Oh, and "rumors" is a bit much, since it's possible that some of the PCs were involved in the Faraway expedition. In particular, syker PCs have to be set up as either stationed on Earth (and thus got to witness the apocalypse first-hand) or were part of the Faraway project (and thus got to participate in war crimes on another planet and deal the whole mess that happened on the way back). But wouldn't syker PCs who were on the Unity know his way around, or what actually happened during the return trip?


Syker characters who were on this ship before probably didn’t venture down into the lower decks, so this part of the ship isn’t familiar. (They were only on here a few days.) Other areas might be better known, but so many of the lifts and corridors are blocked or ruined that any familiarity is too limited to be of much use. Only when they get to the Officer’s Quarters (where they were housed) might they truly see familiar surroundings.
Sorry, you were never on this part of the ship apparently.

The first goal of this chapter is figuring out how to power up the ship and point it at Faraway. While this could have been a cool Space Hulk-esque dungeon crawl, the book shoots that idea right in the foot by explaining how there's no map of the ship, and instead of exploring the PCs are basically just going to be walking in a straight line from setpiece to setpiece. I mean, why change now, right?

It's also important to point out that until the power is turned back on, there's no gravity or oxygen. This fact isn't really mentioned until a few pages after the PCs get onboard.

Anyway, the shuttle (which is still being controlled by ComSat) lands in a fighter bay.


Your ship touches down with barely a jolt. Nervously, you turn your head to watch the shuttle door open. It bangs silently against the floor of the hangar, but no horrors rush in to kill you.

You unstrap yourselves and move out, looking at the floating wreckage all around you. This was obviously a hangar for smaller ships—maybe fighters or scouts of some sort. Only one ship remains now, and it seems to have been disassembled and under repair when disaster struck.

The rest of the bay is filled with floating tools, fuel, and debris—though quite a bit of the flotsam has already floated out of the bay and into space.

I know I said this before, but I hate how the boxed text constantly tells the players how their characters are reacting to things or what actions their characters are taking. It really hammers home how little input or freedom the players have in the overall adventure. If the book (via the GM) is going to just say what my character is doing, why am I even here? Just let me borrow the book and I can read it on my own time.

It's also important to provide maps for places where nothing happens.

Anyway, there's really nothing here. The posse can search for weapons or something, but all they're going to find are some basic gear (flashlights, tools, etc.), patch kits for spacesuits, and a few barrels of fuel they can use for maekshift (and unreliable) explosives.

There are a few ways out of the fighter bay, but they all lead to the same place because player choice is not a thing that's going on around here.

The next room is the "Long Hall", which is supposed to be a maze of hallways but really isn't.


The hall leads into a maze of junctions and dead ends. It seems many of the doors were locked shut—perhaps to seal the ship or block off whatever supposedly invaded. With no map, you are forced to move haphazardly down the corridors. Most are completely empty, though occasionally you see bullet holes, scorch marks, or brown smears along the walls—obviously blood stains from before the ship was exposed to the vacuum.

You spot a sign directing you to the “Lifts,” and follow the corridor for some way. As you move in that direction, you pass a blasted door on the left-hand side of the hall. Above the jagged steel are the words “Mess Area #7.”
I love how the book is now just flat-out telling the players their actions again.

And believe it or not, the players actually get to make a choice here! They can either continue to the lifts, or they can investigate the mess hall!

Only ha ha it's not really a choice! The mess hall is a dead end and there's nothing there! That doesn't mean the PCs can't make skill rolls to move the door, more skill rolls to see that the door and room were damaged by large slashing claws (which is not a clue to anything), and to find a single first aid kit. The whole thing could just be marks on the walls of the hallway and a first aid station on the wall of the hallway.

At the end of the hallway "maze", a term I can't airquote any harder without going to each of your homes individually and making the motion in front of you myself, the posse comes to the single elevator shaft. The car itself is in ruins at the bottom of the shaft and chock full of corpses, but the PCs can still climb up the shaft itself without having to roll or anything since there's no gravity.

Except that (BIG SHOCKING SURPRISE) the corpses come to life when the PCs are halfway up the shaft. If the PCs show the slightest amount of genre awareness and try to destroy the corpses before climbing up, then they get Fate Chips for clever thinking but the zombies animate right away. Either way there are two walkin' dead per PC.

However the PCs deal with the zombies, they then have to climb 60 feet up to the Engineering Level and get through the jammed elevator door. Attempting to pry the door open requires a Strength roll of 20 (again, see my earlier notes about how rolling works), but people can make easy Strength rolls to give the main guy +2 to his roll. Or the PCs can just use the tools back in the hangar to cut through the door without any kind of roll.

However they get through the doors, the PCs just go through "a few twists and turns" and get to the Engine Room.

You know, it's a good thing this is a completely linear "dungeon", otherwise the PCs wouldn't get here because they weren't told how to get here, or even that they had to get to the Engineering Level to get to the Engine Room. I guess it's good writing after all! :fart:

And now...this next part is, ultimately, why I'm reviewing this book. I am well aware that a large part of my shtick in my various readthroughs is "comedicly exaggerated outrage" for stuff like this, but in this case it's pretty legitimate. I realize I may have oversold this part, but I do honestly believe that, in the 30+ years I've been gaming, this is the WORST thing I've ever read in an officially published adventure. It's such an amazing "gently caress YOU" to the players some of you will think I'm making it up.

I'm not. It happened. And I'm gonna tell you all about it.

And here. We. Go.


Three more hallways, two breached doors, and a crawl through some wreckage later, you come to a black door labeled simply “Engine Room.”

It’s wide open.

Make the players actually tell you their characters are entering the dark room beyond. You should even ask each one “Are you entering the room?” That’ll creep ‘em out. This is a choice they have to make. It’s a Faustian thing, try to understand.

You shine your light around the dark room and find…a perfectly normal control board for a small fusion reactor. It’s obviously powered down, but a small blinking light on the main panel hints that it may be easy to reignite.
Saying "Apostolos" won't do anything until someone presses the shiny, candy-like button. Pressing the button powers the ship back up, which also turns the gravity and life support back on. Since there's nothing between getting into the ship and this point except the zombie fight, what was the point of having the life support and gravity off in the first plaoh who cares.

Now, technically, the PCs have access to a starship and could technically just tool around the solar system in it. However, without the ship's AI they can't open a portal to Faraway so hopefully someone remembers to say "Apostolos". Doing so causes the door behind them to seal shut, and a false bulkhead opens up to reveal a 40' square room with jet-black walls. In the middle of the room is a steel pedestal holding a crimson box with black veins...very similar to the ones the PCs have that the Reckoners are trapped in. Further hinting that this isn't a conventional AI is the pentagram on the floor around the pedestal. Energy starts to thrum around the box and...


This is it. The Moment. I'll just let the boxed text speak for itself.


No sooner do you speak the word “Apostolos” than the lights dim and red auxiliary lights come on, casting the room in the shade of blood. You hear the door lock behind you and look back—the walls, floors, and ceiling are covered in some kind of black, scaly hide! The control panel is still there, but before you a false panel has opened up and exposed a large, black room beyond, also covered in the strange black “skin.” In the center is a black steel pedestal enclosed in a blood-red pentagram.

A trickle of whispers rolls into the room. You sense some dark presence among you. The whispers become louder, but still just faint enough to make you hold your breath to better hear them. You look around, but see nothing. The whispers grow slightly louder. You can just make them out now…”murder murder murder”

You feel fear crawl up your spine and slither into your skull. Gooseflesh covers your arms like pustulant boils. You continue to search about for the whisperer, but there is only the dark redness of the blood-lit room.

Somehow knowledge comes into your mind unbidden.

“murder murder murder.”

You begin to understand.

“murder murder murder”

The ship has some dark device that allows it to break through the Hunting Grounds and reach Faraway. The device is much like the box that contains the Reckoners. There is a demon inside. Apostolos.

“murder murder murder”

And Apostolos’ price to activate the drive is cold-blooded murder.

The ship's AI isn't an AI, it's a demon. And to get it to open the portal, it requires a human sacrifice. Hellstrome, being a relatively immoral mad scientist, was okay with this and made sure to have sacrifices on hand when he needed to use the engine.

However, there's nobody on the ship except for the PCs.

I think you all see where I'm going with this.

That's right! In order to progress in the adventure, one of the PCs needs to be murdered by the rest of the group.



Why did is...but...

Good lord, how could anyone think that was a good idea?

Oh, but gets worse!

No! No no no no no no no! What the gently caress!

I just...I don't even know what to say about this sidebar. It's just such a knot of terrible attempts to validate their lovely "plot" "twist" it's actually ridiculously hard for me to get my critical thoughts lined up.

Let's start with how this is for "intelligent, mature groups who can handle some deep ethical decisions." There are plenty of RPGs out there, especially as I write this in 2017, that are focused on exploring ethical descisions, and I am completely 100% on board with that, even the games that cover topics I'm not personally comfortable with. That's a huge part of why I love RPGs: the ability to explore different mindspaces, to explore other ideas I wouldn't normally be able to experience, or to confront moral conflicts in a safe way.

But this. This isn't exploring deeper moral issues. This is one of those bullshit hypotheical "moral choices" that people with lovely politics like to come up with to try and derail a converstation. The players aren't being given a "moral choice", what they're being told is "either one of you stops playing or EVERYONE stops playing." What's so "moral" about that? Especially after all the other bullshit of this adventure where nobody got to do anything anyway so as it is the players are already going to be aggrivated going into this scene.

This is a GM who puts his paladin in contrived no-win moral quandries just to make them fall and thinks he's being clever, writ large. And they're proud of it.


This is a big scene, and one that must be resolved on somehow. If a fight breaks out, we recommend using the full regular combat system so that everyone has a fair shake at surviving if their friends start whipping out their heavy artillery.
What's more...if one of the players does agree to let his character get killed, what's he supposed to do for the rest of the adventure? It's not like there's any way to get a replacement PC into play. Okay, I'll admit there's not much left of the adventure after this, but come on!

Oh, and since this is the big line-ending adventure, these are probably long-term veteran PCs, and as such aren't ones that players are going to want to just throw in the trash so the rest of the group can finish this piece of poo poo adventure.

And what's more, there is nothing heroic about this death. At all. This isn't someone dying at the end of a narrative arc with a good sense of closure, this isn't someone standing up to and sacrificing themselves against unbeatable odds to save his friends. This is not standing alone at Gjallerbru, this is smug passive-agressive-adversarial GMing at its worst.

GOD I hate this loving book.

(I don't know what you all think I personally look like, but pretend there's a gif of me as however you think I look slamming my head repeatedly into a pile of Deadlands books here.)

And to make matter worse, there's no other solution available because the author cuts those off right out of the gate. Want to bust down the door? You can't; the room's actually in a pocket dimension in Hell. Want to try to negotiate with Apostolos? You can't; all it does is say "murder murder murder" over and over again. Want to try to get around it by "killing" a Harrowed PC? Won't work; they'd have to be permanently killed so they'll still be dead-dead, only now the demon powering the character is running the show (and the rest of the group won't know that). A person can't even commit suicide, someone else has to pull the trigger.

The only way out of this is to have someone kill someone else. Period. If there happens to be an NPC handy, that'll work, but the odds of that are probably pretty low. Even if they do, the NPC will probably fight back even though they're ridiculously outnumbered. The book says that "(H)opefully this has almost as many moral consequences as killing a player character, but we’ll leave that to you." The gently caress is that supposed to mean? That killing NPCs isn't as bad as killing PCs? That if they kill a retainer or one of the NPCs that they ran into during the adventure, they shouldn't feel as bad? What is this, Knights of the Dinner Table?

Not that I expect the players would care anyway, because I can't imagine any group giving a poo poo about any of this horse crap at this point.

Wait wait that why they had the PCs run into Jenny Quaid last chapter, and why she decides to tag along? So she could be a sacrifice buffer for the actual characters? God, I hope not because there's a lot of stuff wrong with that, but it's really suspicious because her scene serves no purpose whatsoever other than to give the group an NPC!

But the worst part the worst loving part of that this is, and I am not making this up at all, here on page 68 of this 77 page adventure/97 page book, this is the first loving point where the players are able to make an actual choice in what they want to do.

I haven't said this since my first F&F review years ago, but: gently caress you, Deadlands: Hell On Earth: The Unity. gently caress you, gently caress you, gently caress. You.

God, there's only 9 pages left to the final chapter of the adventure let's just get through this.

"Read it again, the GM can't be serious."

So let's assume that either the GM lets someone just take some damage instead of forcing everyone to murder a long-time friend, or someone decides he has something better to do with his Friday nights and lets the group kill his character. Apostolos returns the room to reality and unlocks the door, allowing the remnants of the posse to head to the bridge and finally end this shitshow.

Ther's only one way to get to the bridge (NO, REALLY?) because all the lifts that'd get you there are broken, and since the gravity's back on climbing all the way up there is impractical. So the PCs have to go through the Officer's Quarters. Syker PCs who went to Banshee will remember this as where they housed on their way back from there.

The PCs go through a series of inconsequential hallways until they find a working elevator.


Ding! The lift car arrives on your level. You can barely make out some soft music coming from behind the doors. It seems to be “The Girl From Ipanema.”
Oh gently caress you.

Anyway the doors open and the elevator car is filled with the remains of about a dozen people whose corpses have thawed now that the ship's power is back on. They don't reanimate, they're just there to (and I quote) "force your already disgruntled party to ride up through several dozen levels in ankle-high chum." Because they haven't had to put up with enough poo poo up to this point.

In the Officer's Quarters, it turns out that the psychic energy of all the sykers fighting the legions of Hell have left a bit of an impression in the form of a page-long cutscene.


The lift doors open. A bald-headed woman stands in front of the door. She smiles, says hi, and steps into the elevator with you—her worn combat boots stepping right through the grisly corpses lying on the lift’s floor.

In front of you, down a long, brightly-lit hallway are dozens more sykers. Some stand together talking, others are playing cards, and a few are even practicing their mental tricks.

It’s almost as if you’ve stepped back into the past. Before the
Unity was taken over.

You’re in some kind of barracks area. The rooms are a little more spacious than you would have thought, with only four beds per room, a computer terminal, and a desk unit. If this were an airplane, you guess this would be somewhere between coach and 1st class. Maybe this was where Hellstromme bunked his scientists or officers.

There’s junk everywhere. It’s obvious they crammed way more people in here than this level was meant to hold. Most of the stuff looks like standard UN military issue—the stuff the Psychic Legion would have carried.

Let the heroes do whatever they want. All of the sykers are an illusion—they pass right through anything they touch. Give the posse a minute or two to observe how things were before the disaster. Then beat them over the head with a little horror.

Suddenly the lights go red and alarm klaxons blare out. Most of the sykers around you freeze, but a few begin to concentrate, perhaps trying to scan other parts of the ship—or other minds—within it. One of the sykers yells out, “Something’s attacking ! Killing the civilians!” That syker then falls to her knees and screams, obviously experiencing whatever has happened to the mind she probed.

Other sykers begin to organize. You hear orders shouted in the darkness and the click of a few unconfiscated weapons being readied. Weird green energy swirls from one bald head to another,

Now it’s like watching a movie in fast-forward. Everything happens at ten times its normal speed. Many of the sykers move out, others start building barricades in the hallway. Then there are more screams. Something’s gotten into the hallway. You can just make out fast-moving shadows at the end of the corridor. Whatever they are, they’re covered in long spines, and there are dozens of them. The sykers fight back, but someone blasts a telepathic scream “Get outta here!” and the rest go running back the way you came.

The fast-forwarding suddenly stops. Everything’s at normal speed again. The red lights are coated in gore and emit little more than an ember-like glow. At the end of the hallway you hear a woman groaning. Then you hear something heavy step slowly toward her. There’s a slashing sound, a scream, then silence. No, not completely. Something stands at the far end of the hallway. You can hear its heavy breath, waiting for you to come near.
So yeah all that was an illusion, except for the part about the lights going out because there's just dull red emergency lights on, giving a penalty to ranged attacks.

So those creatures mentioned? Those are demons called "slahers", and there's two dormant ones here waking up due to the flashback. They look like red humanoids covered in spikes, and they're immune to all types of damage except slashing damage. Other weapons can stun them, but only slashing weapons can damage them. They're clearly just here to be a pointless fight. On the plus side, syker powers are boosted here so at least that's something.

Once that's dealt with, the posse can get to the lift to the bridge in the command tower. But of course the elevator's busted, so they have to climb up four stories, which carries the risk of falling 20, 40, or 60 feet and taking a bunch of damage. Oh, and the doors at the top of the shaft have to be cut open with industrial equipment because gently caress you that's why.


This is a good time to shake the box holding the Reckoners again. This time it pulses, shakes, and begins to change its faces—like a puzzle box. The Reckoners are beginning to figure out the combination to escape. They won’t, of course, just look at your watch, run your fingers over the pages of this book, pretend to add up the time it’s taken them to reach this point, and then give your friends that “Uh oh” look. They’d best hurry or the cats are out of the bag, if you catch our drift.

If you really want to scare them, you can have the puzzle box open up, slide some panels around, and then close again (come on, you’ve seen boxes like this in movies before). Whatever you do, it should be obvious that time is running out.
Shut up!

So now the posse has finally reached the bridge, which is Scene Two of this chapter. And it's just one big boss fight.

Remember about a thousand years ago I mentioned that fifteen sykers stayed behind on the Unity to hold off the hordes of Hell, and have been remembered as the heroes they were? (Oh, by the way, writer of Deadlands: Hell on Earth: the Unity, that's actually heroic!) Their good deed wound up being punished pretty harshly: they have (through means unknown) been transformed into an abomination called a "brain-glom".

Guess what's on the bridge?


You’re almost there. But there’s something moving around behind the door. Something big and wet. You can hear it stomp, then squishy sounds like feet stuck in thick mud. There’s also some kind of babbling—like a room full of patients whispering to each other in a home for the criminally insane.
There's a button next to the door to open it, but if the group takes too long planning for the obvious fight then the brain-glom opens the door and attacks.

What's a brain-glom?

That's a brain-glom.

All fifteen powerful sykers are stuck in there, and the glom has access to one power from each of the heads. Deadlands allowed for multiple actions each round if your initiative was high enough (kinda like Shadowrun), so each round the glom is going to be able to use its multiple heads to fire off a bunch of different powers at random (i.e., "roll on this table to see what actions it takes") because all the sykers in there are insane.

Oh, unless the PCs took time to prep, because in that case it only gets one attack but three of the heads prepped a few powers to go off before the fight: it puts a force field around itself that acts as armor, it creates a telekinetic storm in the middle of the posse, and uses an ability called Meat puppet that lets it make a roll to take control of a PC. If successful, this lasts for as long as that head can concentrate. A person under the inflence of Meat puppet will do whatever the user wants, up to and including committing suicide. So if that hits, the the posse will actually be down two characters thanks to the previous "heroic sacrifice".

The only way to defeat the brain-glom is to kill all fifteen heads. Oh, and because this is a "called shot" it's -6 to hit because gently caress you. You can't attack the body, just the heads because gently caress you.

So that's five wounds each x 15 heads = 75 total wounds. For reference, PCs have six hit locations (both arms, both legs, head, and guts) with five wounds each, for 30 total wounds.

One small advantage is that when you kill a head, the glom loses access to that head's attack. However, three of the heads only act if the glom had a chance to prep, and odds are people are going to waste a round or two trying to take out the head that's controlling their friend.

As for the attacks, four of the twelve heads do straightforward single-target psychic blasts. The other heads, however, can set people on fire with an explosive blast, detonate peoples' ammo, do an AoE psychic blast, negate people's supernatural abilities, blind them, and rip out their hearts or bones.

You read that correctly. Rip out their hearts, or rip out their bones. Oh, and if the head doing the Meat puppet thing loses concentration, it'll keep using the power again against whichever character is doing the most damage until it's killed.

Yeah. The PCs are expected to kill this thing. If they somehow manage to do so, every surivior gets a random psychic power as a reward.

Get bent.

If anyone manages to survive the fight, they can finally activate the jump drive to the Faraway system. The jump takes three days, and the PCs are advised to stay on the bridge because the rest of the ship is overrun with demons and undead. The life support systems work the entire time, but if they need food (and they probably will; they haven't been able to get supplies in ages and probably didn't know they were going to be stuck on a spaceship for three days) they're going to have to scrounge some up.

But that's okay, there are food processors! Only the food's long since gone bad and carries the chance of food poisoning! And the food processors are in the lower parts of the ship that're filled with monsters! It's entirely possible that the party can live through all the bullshit slung at them up to this point, then die or starve to death before they get to the actual end of the adventure!

This is an actual professionaly produced adventure put out by one of the larger RPG studios in the industry.

Anyway there's nothing else to do until they get to Banshee since everything is handled by the ship's autopilot. Thus begins Scene Three, which is comprised of nothing but boxed text. No, really.


A dull, yellow planet has been growing larger on the bridge’s central viewscreen for a few hours. Now the view is close enough to see a land of stark black mountains and yellow sandy plains swept by violent winds. You can see why they named this place Banshee.

The Unity continues directly on its course, straight toward the planet. You begin to wonder if the autopilot knows to stop. Just as you think about figuring out the system, a warning flashes on the viewscreen. “Collision Imminent.”

That can’t be good.

The Unity starts to shake violently as the planet on the viewscreen swells faster than you could have imagined. Your teeth chatter and suddenly you hear wind coming from somewhere—you’re in atmosphere and you’re drat sure this ship wasn’t meant for that.

You try to wrestle the controls, but the ship is in override, trying to save itself. You can feel it trying to pull up, but Banshee already has it locked in its gravity. This ship is going down!

Red lights flare, klaxons blare, and a gentle, far-too-calm voice instructs you to strap yourself down. The shaking becomes more violent. Your teeth feel like they’re going to bust. The g-forces bring dark spots to your eyes, and finally start to black out your brain. With any luck, you’ll be unconscious when you die.

Let ‘em wonder a minute. If you’re feeling really dirty, you can close the book and stare at them for a minute like they’re all dead. Maybe the joker they killed back at the Engine Room will feel better this way.

Of course, they’re not going to die. They’ve got an appointment with destiny.

Something hurts. You wake, as if from a heavy sleep and feel something sharp sticking in your leg. Or maybe your arm, or both. Pinpricks of light stab at your eyes and you smell…dust?

Now you remember. You’re on the
Unity. That damned, cursed ghost ship It’s crashed. You’re on Banshee. And somehow you’re still alive.

You look around. Bits of sunlight shine through the cracked command tower. You see your companions lying about, some strapped in seats like yours, others crumpled against the bulkheads, but it seems they and the tower survived relatively intact. You can only imagine what the hull beneath looks like.

Maybe it smashed all the demons and walking corpses as well, but you know you’re not that lucky.

You pull yourself out of your chair and walk toward the front of the tower. It’s torn and jagged, forming a crude balcony over the desert floor some hundreds of feet below. The wind here really is like a banshee’s scream.

You suddenly remember Hellstromme’s box. It’s right where you left it, but its sides have popped out, like some sort of expanding puzzle. It just sits there. Inert.

It’s empty.

The Reckoners have been released on this alien planet.

You’ve brought them here to save earth. But what have you done to Banshee?

The rest of the action takes place in the Lost Colony roleplaying game, Marshal. We’ll see you there.


For now.
And that's it. The posse is now on planet Banshee, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are on the loose, whoever's left alive has no idea where they are, where any settlements are, they have no support and they're probably completely out of any sort of resources.

The end?

NEXT TIME: What do you mean there's one more chapter?

Evil Mastermind fucked around with this message at 17:17 on Apr 1, 2017

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
"Oh, and the literal four horsemen of the apocalypse just let you live, because... um... spaceport?"

Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.
Wow. That lived up to the hype. That right there is some supervillan-level lovely GMing. Part of me wants to try and dig that Listserv out of the archives to see what actual players and GMs made of that crap. I have a nasty feeling that any fandom community run by this guy would be a murderous echo chamber on pain of bannage though.

If I remember rightly, didn't the Unity come back in the big finale to Lost Colony? I dimly remember there was time travel involved to let the players tie all three game lines together.

EDIT: The part of me that doesn't want to trawl through the ancient Listserv now wants to play a bit more with a space western version of Event Horizon. It has a dash of Bravestarr to it. A Space Western take on System Shock 2 could be a glorious cheesetastic romp.

Loxbourne fucked around with this message at 21:21 on Jan 29, 2017

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Loxbourne posted:

Wow. That lived up to the hype.
I am so glad to hear that you have no idea.


If I remember rightly, didn't the Unity come back in the big finale to Lost Colony? I dimly remember there was time travel involved to let the players tie all three game lines together.
Yeah, I cover that in the final part of the review, which I'll post later tonight.

Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
"A MATURE group would totally be okay with loving over their players. Why are you so immature?"

That is absolutely the shittiest thing I've seen on GMing. It's on par with Play Dirty in its smugness, terrible advice, and worthlessness.

Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
Yeah, the "If you were a REAL MATURE GROUP you'd be fine with this" loses all impact when you're throwing scantily clad ladies at the party earlier in the adventure.

Loxbourne posted:

The part of me that doesn't want to trawl through the ancient Listserv now wants to play a bit more with a space western version of Event Horizon. It has a dash of Bravestarr to it. A Space Western take on System Shock 2 could be a glorious cheesetastic romp.

Look at you Psyker, a miserable sack of meat and gumption, I reckon. How can you challenge a perfect immortal demon? By sacrificing one of your party members. Don't worry, I'll wait.

Kurieg fucked around with this message at 21:29 on Jan 29, 2017

Aug 12, 2013

Kurieg posted:

This is beginning to sound like an old tomb of horrors adventure where you just keep throwing PC parties at it until you achieve the right skill composition to fit their dumb lock considering all the ways that they can just flat out fail or die with no recourse.

this comparision is vastly insulting to Tomb of Horrors

Oct 6, 2014

....That whole thing is utterly vile. I've never GMd and I can tell every single word of that screams DON'T RUN YOUR GAME THIS WAY!

The pedant in me wants to point out that Deseret and Denver have little to do with each other and the former would probably not even be in Colorado! That's a Utah thing.

Aug 23, 2009

I can't believe I'm saying this but that was...kind of disappointing. If I was playing this I'd be begging for an out at that point so I'd be fine with sacrificing my character, certain that I'd never play with the GM again or maybe with any GM.

This is definitely not because I guessed wrong.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Kavak posted:

I can't believe I'm saying this but that was...kind of disappointing. If I was playing this I'd be begging for an out at that point so I'd be fine with sacrificing my character, certain that I'd never play with the GM again or maybe with any GM.

This is definitely not because I guessed wrong.

Hold on to that hope. There's one more post incoming.


Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool

Toilet Rascal
Why would you do this in the middle of the adventure, in a place with absolutely no way to get a new character?

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5