The evening began with trying to figure out how to get someone hooked up to the pilot's seat of the Brain Lasher ship. The cockpit had what looked like a crown with umbilical cords attached to the flesh-like interior of the ship. Gilek the Gnome (who has turned out to be a bit of a daredevil) tried first, with disastrous effects (a horrendously failed saving throw resulted in INT loss). This put fear in several of the other players until one of the newer guys figured he had nothing to lose, because he hadn't even figured out the name of his character yet (YES! old school character creation in action!).
Being a magic-user, Dimiter (earning a name after accomplishing something a long-standing character could not), his INT score held up to the mental onslaught of the ship sending mental tendrils into his cortex. Thus began what, in essence, was a session-long discussion.
I had fun playing up the ship as an alien intelligence. I answered questions with monosyllabic answers whenever possible and when I couldn't, I tried to answer with another question. It was fun seeing the party try and plan how to get around the logic of the ship.
The crux of the issue was that the party needed a key and some food in order to be able to even think about getting home. On the body of the Brain Lasher, the party had found a gem with what we would describe as a laser etching of a trident on the interior of the stone. They figured they had the key. So they set about getting some food.
On the horizon was what looked to be several islands to what the party designated south-east and a larger land mass on the horizon to the north. They decided to head to the islands where they found some plant-life with brain sacks half-buried under the sand at the base of the simple root system. Much hilarity ensued as Gilek insisted on experimenting with the plants prior to taking them back to the ship (where anything disastrous might destroy the ship). In short, many a save vs. poison roll failed with non-deadly but funny results. Eventually, the gnome was unconscious on the sand and the rest of the party was satisfied that the plants were safe enough.
Though not ideal and certainly not as nutritious as a sentient being, the ship admitted that the plants were "palatable." Having thus secured what they believed to be the key and a food source, the discussion turned to what to do next. This is when all chaos broke out in what ended up being a huge discussion where players struggled with what they wanted to do, what they thought their characters wanted to do and what they thought the party should do.
Rather than try and describe it all in any kind of detail, I'll just hit some highlights:
- Gilek advocated exploring the larger landmass, even if for only an hour (when else will we ever get to see something like this?)
- Ahkmed had some time ago procured a manual about strange machines written in the same language used by the Yellow Faces. While preparations for getting food were underway he had managed to decipher enough of it that he knew he wanted some exotic metals to start experimenting with.
- The party noticed that the trident etched inside the key matched a trident on a icosahedron map that the party had acquired ages ago, but had not pursued.
- The ship informed them that the map probably lead to the city where the Yellow Faces (referred to by the ship as Cyn) came from.
- The ship also informed the party that there was a Brain Lasher city a few days travel inland on the larger landmass.
- The party determined that the Cyn who was on the ship when they were attacked is from a group that is currently allied with the Brain Lashers and at war with other types of Cyn.
The sentiment of the group was how often do we get to go adventure in a Brain Lasher city? So, albeit reluctantly, the group set foot on the larger landmass to head inland.
Within a day, they ran into a patrol of mongrel men mounted upon flailsnails. Initially, the party wanted to avoid any contact (and having surprise, they could have); however, Gilek noticed that the mongrel men had something attached to the back of their neck. Figuring that this was some kind of mind-control device, he attacked in hopes of freeing one or more of them to gain more information.
Only one mongrel man survived the combat and the removal of the device (which was organic and tentacled — some of which were wrapped around the base of the brain). Though confused and terrified, the party did manage to get information about the city itself.
This led to second thoughts both for and against going on to the city. Three key pieces of information were at play:
- Part of the population were Cyn.
- Travel to and from the city mainly occurred via an inter-dimensional portal somewhere in the city.
- The majority of the population were slaves, controlled by the same device as the mongrel men.
A good number of players were interested in at least scouting out the city in hopes of being able to find a way of inciting a slave revolt to disguise their attempts to either take out as many Cyn as possible or finding the portal. There were also a number of players who wanted to retreat back to the ship and try to get home that way.
I had to end the session with pinning down the party's intention. Though I knew there was a Brain Lasher city, I had not really expected the party to go there, thus I needed to know whether or not I had to get ready for such an adventure. In the end, I have a very interesting week of preparation ahead of me...