Ceteri S1E10: Why did it have to be snake?

Dramatis Personae

Kamali Blackshear (18): Kamali is a young man in his late teens. He is healthy and is of mixed ethnicity of Caucasian South African and native South African. He is a determined youth who believes in a justice of his own, likening himself to the knight of the round table whom he has read deeply into. Just as they stood against the darkness of their age so too does Kamali seek to do the same. For his sister, for his friends, and for the world.

Tag: “A knight without a sword wielding freaking Excalibur carrying a faith nobody believes.”

Lorenzo DeModouco (18): A man with movie star looks and a voice that belongs on the radio. Slowly coming to grips with the fact that he isn’t exactly human, but a “Lupus Dei” – “Wolf of God” – otherwise known as a Benandanti. He’s still cheery and always trying to make others happy, but has become a shrewd student of human behavior, which he uses for the benefit of the rest of his team. Lorenzo’s recently joined the Boston Fire Department as a volunteer as a means to get access to places he normally shouldn’t be able to go as well as medical gear and information that might not be available to the public. He’s become a master of spear fighting and like the rest of his brothers is a highly capable combatant.

Tagline: “You can take me to the gates of Hell, but I won’t back down and I won’t be turned around.”

Amos M. Humiston (20): The Linguist and Librarian. He is the brains to the rest of the group’s brawn; but by the same token, he’s slow and cautious compared to the other Orphans, preferring not to charge forwards until he has the answers that he’s looking for. Those same answers that he more than happily provides the rest of the group when they turns to him about the more esoteric aspects that they’re working with and against. Recently Amos has nearly completed his double Masters in Library & Information Science Archives and History and has also managed to get a rather special job lined up. He has also learned from others that he hold the potential to be a Sorceror which if unlocked would be able to enhance his already considerable talent with ritualistic magic.

Tag: “True alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.”

Gabriel MacAlister (18) – Built like the natural athlete he is, he is tall, strong, and solidly good-looking, but deeply scarred from much combat. He’s missing his lower leg, which he lost fighting zombies. It is capped by a carbon fiber prosthetic that doesn’t seem to interfere much with his activities. A quiet and hard-working man, always ready to lend a hand with any work, which he will do without complaint or obligating the other person to respond. He is an expert martial arts teacher, and has been following in the footsteps of a carpenter for some time now. Emphatically not a pushover or weak personality, but also not one to purposefully show off. Has been in many horrible places and seen many horrible things; he’s a bit of a compulsive planner as a result, as well as always feeling that most folks don’t really know how lucky they are. He was cursed to carry a magical sword for a while, and gave into its Wrath before it was parted from him magically. He’s since given it up, in exchange for unknown burdens.

Tag: “To serve others is the highest calling; to protect the meek the noblest endeavor, and our works are judged by the effort that went into them”

Hunting Hunters

We pick up in media res. We’ve been preparing for our assault on the final Babel stone location. Kamali went off in a direction after getting a hold of a little black book from Myriam – containing names of other hunters. Because where are they? This is a big question.

Gabe, Lorenzo, and Devin have about 8 hours to kill; Devin is going to try and help Amos tap into the ley lines more effectively and spend most of that time in his workshop. Gabe decides to try and lay some false trail, pointing a few allies and friends at what we know is the wrong spot. We’re basically trying to cause enough havoc to get folks to think we’re going there. We’ve been underestimated all along, and we use that to our advantage. We lure some of the bad guys into an ambush, with some seelie allies taking out about 40 vamps and some unseelie knights. They bought the ruse hook, line, and sinker, and that helps us quite a bit.

Around 7pm rolls around, Kamali lets us know that he’s found a few other hunters, who have been working but quiet. Amos comes back at the same time with a friend.

Friendly Sorceress

Christopher ix-nays Annia’s plan to ride into the scene on a pet Nemean lion. We are all disappointed by this, but we get over it.

Amos wants to give a powerpoint. He introduces Yannay one of the folks he was translating the books for, about 2 days ago. She helped him take care of one of the piles of Babel stones – we all read the map while he was gone, right? – and took care of the ones down in Duxbury. The ones in Nadick, however, will still be quite nasty. There were all these cute dogs, and the mist just ate them.

“Cute dogs? Really? Really? It’s still hurting. Have you ever heard an expression called ‘too soon?'”

The guardians of the babel stones were actually big, bad wolves, that ate Yannay’s face. She’s used some healing magic to speed things along, but the three scars across her face are harsh reminders of the difficulty of the mission.

They wiped out the exclusion wards on the piles of stones. “Where’s Kamali?”

Well, you know how Kamali is; he’s always wanted an army. Well he’s off getting one.

“So, Excalibur isn’t here?”

“Wait, the stories of Excalibur aren’t bullshit?” says Yanay.

“Oh, how’s my manticore?” says Amos.

Yanay gets very excited: “I want to see your mantiore! I showed you my Nemean lion!”

We banter back and forth a bit; Yanay isn’t used to how Devin disappears from her memory. She asks how; he explains that he was looking into how the mists conceal things from normals, and there was an accident. Some of the mist got pulled into him, so folks tend to forget him. He’s like Inverse Dory. He’s managed to pull some of the mists into himself, and form an anchor for the mists on himself. Odd. Yanay is a sorcerer working with a team of sorcerers, maybe she could figure this out and reverse that spell.

It’s currently May 5, 2000 – the day after the new moon. (Also known as the day after the moon).

We get ready to head to “the farmstead” where the last Babel stones are kept. We take three vehicles: Amos on the motorcycle, Lorenzo in his Suburban, and Devin (oh, he’s here?) has a Lexus.

Snake! Snake snake snake!

We arrive at the farmstead, and Yanay casts some sort of spell – she burns quite a bit and we gain tremendous insight into each other (Oh! We all see Devin and remember everything!) as well as now seeing the trees around us are blighted and evil. We also note a snakelike creature lunging in and out of the ground. Oh, nice, a Basilisk.

However, the “don’t look at it” thing may well be helped by the spell we’re all helping. The basilisk goes to chomp Gabe, who dodges. Lorenzo goes to do a flying cray-cray acrobatic attack with his spear. He misses; Gabe does the same thing, and the beast breaks Gabe’s spear parrying an otherwise successful blow. Alas.

Devin whips out a Gizmo; Yanay goes to curse the thing. Amos summons insects – lots of them.

Lorenzo is seen by the Basilisk and takes 5 pts of injury as he partially petrifies. Gabe gets attacked with the tail, Lorenzo is attacked with a bite. We both manage to live. Gabe readies his sword, shield, and invokes Righteous Fury, making his ST 16 (from 15), his DX 18, and his HT 15.

Amos throws an Itch spell at the thing, and it rebounds and hits Lorenzo instead. It curls up and moves backwards. And of course spits venom in a cone, because why not.

We dodge out of the way; Lorenzo feints and passes his margin of victory to Gabe. Gabe goes for the Boo-shot (the eyes), makes the roll by 10, spending a card to mitigate the effects of a crit. He hits, and cripples one of its eyes. Woot.

The swarm of insects does toxic damage to the basilisk, which is to say it doesn’t hurt it at all.

Yanay had summoned a ball of liquid nitrogen, and hits the snake with the ball, doing 3d ice damage. 13 points . . . didn’t penetrate DR.

“Oh . . . shit.” she says, sad.

Gabe feints the basilisk, and makes the roll by 22. Yes, 22. Lorenzo winds up gifted with an -18 to the snake’s defense . . . if he survives that long.

The snake spits and stares . . . and bites at Gabe and breathes at both. Gabe takes 2 injury.

Lorenzo goes max damage with Focused Fury, for +2 per die damage. He goes AoA and makes it happen, but the target is -18 to defend. Only a crit will do it. Which he gets. Of course. Lorenzo gives the GM two Doom points to bypass the crit; we take out its other eye.

Now it’s just a big pile of hit points, we hope.

Combat keeps going. Amos hits it hard with the sling of David. Gabe hits it with a hard swing from Sir Lancelot’s sword Arendight, which cuts through the serpent’s scaly hide like hot butter.

Blood spurts all over Gabe; this is not good; 8 pts toxic and 2pts of DR get ablated. Gabe has now taken 15 points of damage. Ooo, Gabe gets grappled by a SM +6 creature. We start chucking nasty spells, and a few sling stones at the snake, which is busy crushing Gabe to death. The snake inflicts 29 points of crushing damage on Gabe, bringing him to -27 HP.

Lorenzo draws Aggro on the snake, using Talker! to distract it. We keep trying to pour nasty into it, but it keeps taking it.

Gabe tries to break free; thanks to Divine Favor, he does – the snake, thinking him dead, lets go and attacks Lorenzo, who tries to pole-vault into a tree. Ooo. Doesn’t work. He gets grappled for 32 points of crushing damage.

The remaining combatants keep slinging stones and slinging spells. Gabe makes a HT roll and then staggers over and slices the thing. Lorenzo gets squeezed again and takes another 34 points of crushing, killing him.

Yanay hits it hard with moonfire; 27 points of damage. it doesn’t appear to care.

Gabe prays; the line is busy. Alas. He does roll a 3 on his HT roll; the GM rules he’s no longer losing damage from poison and may act normally until he takes more damage. Yay?

The snake crushes Lorenzo some more; 25 more points or so? He’s starting to resemble jelly.

Gabe hits the snake again, and it actually dies.

Yanay brings Lorenzo back to life. She also brings Gabe back to only down 3 HP; greater Succor plus my Flesh Wounds rapid healing. Big deal.

***********

We end there.

Christopher Commentary

We were missing Merlin (who plays Kamali) this game session and it sucked he wasn’t here, but I didn’t rejigger the encounter. I don’t normally do that when something is supposed to be difficult. Because of that…it was VERY difficult. Ceteri basilisks have tough hide hard as steel, the ability to spit their venom, turn targets to stone (success means you suffer some damage instead), are very strong (SM+6) and tough, can reflect magic back at those who hit them with it, and have a venom that melts you like acid even as it poisons you. Oh, yeah, and acidic blood. They are DIFFICULT to kill for even the most experienced of hunters.

This was made even harder because I rolled almost a dozen critical successes for the thing (most of them dodging high value attacks which the players then were forced to use cards and/or character points). It also just wouldn’t die. It went down to HPx5 and was still fighting. Also, SM+6 monsters are scary when grappling. I literally killed a PC and nearly killed another. The PCs were kind of terrified toward the end. If Yanay (as played by Annia) hadn’t been there this would have gone worse both before and after. Moon magic is kind of awesome. Overall, it went well and I’m really kind of happy HOW it went down as it showcased that the PCs are not invulnerable.

Session Soundtrack

“Runnin’ Down A Dream” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (opening song)
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1D3a5eDJIs)
“Girl on Fire” by Rob Zombie (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10xISb-T_0A)
“Cold Hearted” by Paula Abdul (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7aShcmEksw)
“Fade to Black (Symphonic)” by Metallica
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HoynyGj6CM)
“The Garden of Allah” by Don Henley (closing song)
(https://open.spotify.com/track/64BpzAwlkuge19pCMt8PUF)

Another Point of View

Rob Knop is one of the players, and he took notes at the same time. He also recorded some awesome quotes, so here’s his version of events, for fun.

Guest today: Annia from C-Team playing Yanay Servantes

Last time, Merlin brought up the question: where are all the monster hunters? No way it’s just us in a city as big as Boston.

We have located the remaining two points of the triangle, and their guardians. One is at an orchard, Sunshine Farms, about 40-50 minutes outside of the city.

It’s about 7:30PM when Amos gets back; he went to share the location with C-team. Devin has been in his workshop. Gives us about 8 hours. Kamali went off with a little black book he got from Miriam to explore.

Gabe and Lorenzo go off to lay down some false tracks away from the northern Babel Stone point we’re planning to hit, to try to draw any opposition off. Kill some vamps.

7:00PM, Kamali phones in, says that he’s found some local hunters, is still recruiting, has gotten hooked into the local Hunter’s grapevine.

About the same time, Amos comes back to the firehouse with Yanay. Devin gets back too. Amos introduces Yanay; she’s one of the folks he helped translate the book for a while back. Says they took care of the Babel Stones down in Duxbury. There were big bad wolves that ate Yanay’s face.

Amos asks where Kamali is; when told he’s out, he says “so Excalibur isn’t here”. Yanay says, “wait, the Excalabur story isn’t bullshit?” But, at least, Gabe still has Arondight.

Miriam comes in. Asks how long she was out; Amos tells her that she was out for two days. She says it’s not a big deal; once back in the 50s she was dead for more than a year.

“Death is Confusing” — Miriam

Yanay asks Devin about his weird phenomenon. She looks at him with Awareness; sees that he’s an ancor for the Mists, which is impossible. She tells me I should go to Brimstone Law, where her team of sorcerers could check it out.

Yanay scries on the location (waved hands over a bowl of water). She sees a farm, a dusty road, and a lot of random equipment, not a lot of people. There’s a hole in her vision where she can’t see anything; she guesses this is from the ward.

Yanay blows a lot of personal energy to cast a protective spell on all of us. (This spell, usually cast as a charm, protects the wearer from the paranormal powers of hostile supernatural forces. It grants +2 on all resistance rolls made against magic, innate abilities, etc. when employed by supernatural forces that mean to harm the wearer of the charm. This protection lasts for a (24 hours or 3 months?), after which the medicine bag disintegrates into powder. )

We drive efficiently, get to Sunshine Farms in a bit more than 30 minutes.

Get there. Apple Orchard. There’s a glowing blue force globe. Yanay casts a spell to link together our minds. Fails the roll, spends a card (a card?) to spend 3 points (I’m not sure fully what happened mechanically here) to get a critical success. It works… but also people’s memories of Devin flood back in. Also, they don’t forget him when looking away.

Gabe notices that the trees are blighted.

“Please do not smite the nature.” –Amos

Looking more closely, Yanay and Amos see that it’s not just the plants. The Earth itself has been blighted and scorched. Amos knows what this is… and thanks to our mindlink, we all know. It’s a Basilisk. Very poisonous, and if it looks at you it can petrify you.

Something leaps out of the ground; creates a hole and is running/slithering forward. It’s a really big snake.

We hear a rumble from the north.

Basilisk comes out. It’s a freaking huge snake. Lorenzo slashes at it, but it misses. Gabe runs around to stab it from the side, deceptive attacking. It parries with its table; Doug’s spear breaks.

Devin uses a Gizmo to pull out a Video surveillance bug, starts setting it up.

Yanay curses the basilisk. Spell doesn’t affect it… it rebounds! She manages to throw off the curse with her will.

Amos pulls out a Gizmo: he critically succeeds on pulling out a herbal, and summons an insect swarm.

Basilisk looks at Lorenzo… his HT roll is 9 (out of 14). He takes 5 pts of injury (ignoring damage) as part of him petrifies. The Basilisk does a Rapid Strike, bite on Lorenzo plus tail on Gabe. Gabe retreats and doges.

Lorenzo tries to do a fancy thing, isn’t fancy, but still stabs with his spear. It recoils (retreating dodge) and dodges.

Devin finishes setting up his surveillance bug (Video Bug, High Tech p. 209).

Yanay tries to cast a freezing spell in a single turn; next turn she wil throw the ice blast.

Amos pulls out another herbal (one he had prepared). He throws an itch. It bounces off of the Basilisk and on to Lorenzo, who just ignores it (rolled 5 out of 14 for HT).

Basilisk curls up and moves backwards. Spits venom in a cone. Gabe and Lorenzo manage to dodge. Venom hits the plants, and this is definitely what’s killing it.

The Basilisk looks at Gabe (even though Gabe now has eyes closed, using Devin’s video feed and Yanay’s mind link). Part of him petrifies, and he takes 5HP of damage.

Lorenzo does a heroic charge. Does a deceptive attack, passes the bonus on to Gabe; it’s huge.

Gabe goes for the eyes.

“It’s going to try to dodge and do all these other things. Unless it rolles a 4 or less, it’s not going to happen.” (Rolls 3.) Gabe has a fancy card… (what was it?) Spends it, on the reroll, the dodge isn’t as good. Gabe’s sword thrust manages to cripple one of its eyes.

Devin runs for cover and fast draws his stun gun.

Amos directs his giant sword of insects to the Basilisk. Swarm does toxic damage, and does nothing….

Yanay throws her cold ball. She hits, does 13 points of ice damage… which, alas, does not penetrate DR.

Amos fast-draws the sling, drops the sling… it reappears in his hand as if by MAAAAGIIIC. He tells it he doesn’t like it. He gets into a silent argument with it about whose fault it all is. All of this mental conversaton is shared with all of us….

“It’s *your* fault! You’re the one with opposable thumbs!” –Sling

Amos slings a liquid load (Amos’ spicy balls). It hits! But… doesn’t do any damage.

Gabe feints, rolling 5 out of effective skill 22, passes the feint on to Lorenzo.

It stares at Gabe. Gabe’s HT roll is good… and he takes 2 points of injury as more of him turns to stone. It also spits, covering Lorenzo and Gabe.

Lorenzo stabs. The freaking snake rolls a crit on its dodge. Lorenzo lets the GM get two Doom Cards in order to reroll… so he really does hit… and takes out its other eye! Doesn’t kill it though.

Devin fires his stun gun (3 shots), hits with one shot, but it makes its HT roll.

Yanay moonbeans the creature; blind, it fails to dodge. Yana spends a fatigue point to increase the damage; rolls 20 points of damage that ignore DR. It catches fire! This freaks us all out; we have to roll vs. fear.

Amos does the sling thing. He hurls his mighty balls; both slam into the snake.

Gabe swigns his Arondight at the basilisk, cutting through the scaly hide of the serpent like hot butter. Blod sprays all over Gabe and Lorenzo…. Both make HT rolls vs. poison. They take 2 points of corrosion damage, and the DR of anything they’re wearing is reduced by 2. They also take 8 points of toxic damage.

Lorenzo is in bad shape, but stays conscious.

The snake tries to grapple Gabe, curing around him; he parries (wards it off with his sword). It tries again (rapid strike)… and crits on its roll to grapple.

Lorenzo runs and stabs.

Devin runs and fires… and rolls an 18 on his Beam Weapons. Spends a card to avoid the critical failure.

Yanay fires another moonbeam, critically succeeds on the cast. Hits; snake dodges with a roll of 3….

Amos tries to put his balls in the snake’s mouth. Hits the torso twice.

Gabe tries to cut his way out. Cuts into the snake; he’s still grappled.

The basilisk constricts on Gabe. He takes 34 crushing… his armor protects at -2, so net 29 crushing, he’s down to -27. He doesn’t immediately die.

Lorenzo tries to piss the snake off to pull it away from Gabe.

Devin runs closer and fires wildly, but misses.

Amos instructs the swarm to buzz near the earholes.

Yanay lobs fire again, critically hits, 14 points of damage-ignoring silvery fire damage. Her hands remain on fire… and it spreads over the rest of her body. Spooky.

Amos slings again.

Gabe manages to break free! He feels divine power flowing through him.

The Basilisk charges and tries to grapple Lorenzo. Lorenzo tries to pole-vault up the tree with Move!, but fails… and gets grappled. He takes 32 points of crushing damage, and has to make a couple of death rolls.

Lorenzo and Gabe are still taking toxic damage.

Devin makes a deceptive attack with his stun gun (emptying the cell), passing the -4 penalty on basilisk defense to Yana.

Yana rolls 18 on her attack roll, spends a card to reroll, hits; it fails to dodge. She does 20 damage.

Amos slings again, hits.

Gabe, in bad shape, runs up and hits it again.

Amos’ insects are now doing something: blocking its vibratory sense!

Lorenzo gets squoze again. Takes another 36 points of crushing, goes past -5xHT, dies. 🙁 Sad. Thanks to the mindlink, we all take one point of long-term stability damage.

Devin fast-reloads; because of Electronics! he manages to do a battery change in zero time. (Woot!) Gives his deceptive attack -4 to Yanay.

Yanay moonbeams again. 27 damage this time.

Amos slings again, two balls to the face.

Gabe crits on his health roll to stay awake; divine power infuses him, and cleanses the poison from his body. He holds the sword and shield of Sir Lancelot over his head, and calls out in the name of the Lord our God to smite the snake with holy fire. (Prayer. Wishful thinking. What can you do.)

The snake keeps crushing Lorenzo’s dead body.

Devin does the deceptive attack thing again; snake resists the stun, but passes a -4 on dodge to Yanay. She burns it again; 21 more points.

OMG this basilisk is tough.

Amos slings towards the eyeballs.

Gabe finally kills it…. We can recover Lorenzo’s body.

Yanay puts out the fire that was on her. She’s now wearing a multitude of chains and silver that she was not wearing before. She says she can try to bring Lorenzo back with a spell. It works. Lorenzo wakes up.

Yanay then uses some healing magic on Lorenzo and Gabe.

So. That was very scary. We nearly lost Gabe and Lorenzo. We briefly lost Lorenzo.

Amos and/or Yanay do spell stuff to tap a Ley Line in order to get inside the force shield and muck up the bad guys’ stuff.

Amos merges with the Ley Line; keeps the stone pile intact, but as soon as he wants to he can do things.

(It’s past midnight. We need to end….)

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