Sunday, January 9, 2011

Session 4 summary

The final leg of the cattle drive the party started in the first session, where our heroes (almost) make it to their final destination. This week we welcomed a new player, which was a lucky thing as two of our regulars unfortunately couldn’t make it due to scholarly pursuits.


- Dexx: Young but experienced thief and pickpocket, schooled by life on the streets of the Boneyard. Self-professed hater of Ghouls and honest/less lucrative work;

- Florian: Skilled physician travelling the wasteland after only recently having left behind the safety of his home, Vault 10;

Not too long after their encounter with the travelling salesman Stan and his companions, the caravan, counting four men and five Brahmin bulls strong, spotted another figure approaching in their direction, coming from the east and about to cross their path. It wouldn’t prove to be their prodigal friend Craig however, but the stranger didn’t turn out entirely unfamiliar either. A tall, rather young man, sporting glasses, a hat and a blue jumpsuit that the group had come to know quite well, neared and greeted them warmly. Florian, as he introduced himself, too, like Rhiannon, was a newcomer to the wastes, a vault dweller no more than a few weeks out of Vault 10, having left to explore and share his medical expertise with the wretched souls of the wasteland, who would no doubt have need of it. Both parties were glad to meet a friendly face out in the desert. All those in the caravan were enthusiastic about having Florian accompany them on the rest of their journey, as their friend Craig, who had seen to the needs of both man and cow alike with his knowledge of herbal remedies, was still nowhere to be found. Florian from his side was equally pleased about the prospect of travelling alongside some companions more savvy in the ways of the wastes, even more so as they were quite forthcoming with water and some excellent Brahmin steaks as well. Together the group set out again, ever continuing their way south east to the Longhorn Ranch, now not more than a day and a half away. Despite their ill fortune on the road so far, Jacob’s spirits seemed to recover, not in the least because of the thought that soon he’d be enjoying the various seedy attractions of the shanty town of Landfill, before starting the return trip north.

They made good time the rest of the day, enjoying favourable weather and no more distractions along the way, and kept going well past dusk in order to make up for lost time some days earlier. Without any light, having decided to keep their last torch for emergencies, they continued to the increasingly rocky and sloping terrain, a dangerous course of action indeed in the Mojave desert, teeming with nocturnal predators and mutated creatures of all kind. It didn't take long for the Radscorpions that inhabit this part of the desert to make a new appearance, sensing an easy target in the slow moving caravan. Despite a sudden noise which alerted the group of their arrival, the giant arachnids managed to slip by the defenders under the cloak of darkness and go straight for the more coveted prey, the Brahmins, which the heroes had wisely tried to lead away from the rest of the group. As the frenzied lowing gave away the attackers' position, Florian lighted their last torch and they all ran towards the cattle, hoping to dispatch the Radscorpions before any more harm befell the bulls. Once again the tribal hunter Pyal proved a great asset to group, impaling one of the creatures on his spear. While the first assailant was being dealt with, the second Radscorpion however managed to catch one of the bulls in its mighty pincers and drive its stinger into the Brahmin's flank, sending it reeling to the ground almost immediately. Before it could feast on its paralyzed prey lying motionlessly on the ground, its tongues sagging out of its heads, the heroes managed to kill the second Radscorpion as well. Florian immediately set to work trying to clean the wound to the best of his abilities, with apparent success, as the thoroughbred pulled through the next hour, which often proves fatal as the Radscorpion's venom courses through its victim's veins. Though the Brahmin seemed to recover admirably, the group decided to halt the march for the rest of the night and make camp there and then, perhaps not the wisest decision in the middle of Radscorpion territory. As a precaution they posted two sentries instead of the usual one, with Florian and Dexx taking first watch. Their caution proved to be warranted, as soon after they once again heard sounds coming from the hillside from which the first two Radscorpions had also emerged. The twosome took up defensive positions to try and see what the cause of the noise was, but without much success, until Dexx noticed a shape moving past in the darkness. While he shouted in alarm, Florian ran to wake up their sleeping comrades. Suddenly loomed out of the darkness in front of Dexx a huge Radscorpion, black as the night itself, snapping its pincers, its tail poised to strike. It immediately caught one of Dexx' arms in its claw, and while his companions hurried towards him for help, Dexx struggled with the creature alone for some time, trying to escape its grasp. Being especially limber he soon enough managed to extricate his arm from the vice grip of Radscorpion and dodged the powerful but slow attacks the creature made. The others had meanwhile caught up, and they proceeded to surround the creature which proved a formidable opponent, their bullets ricocheting of its chitinous shell, their blows not able to inflict any serious harm on the creature. At one point losing his balance in the dark, Florian fell onto the mutated scorpion's back, noticing in surprise that half a dozen translucent white baby scorpions were crawling over it as well. eventually Dexx realized a less conventional tactic was needed and tried to distract the Radscorpion by kicking up dirt in its eyes. This distracted the creature enough to once more turn its attention on Dexx, which gave Pyal the opportunity to strike, plunging his spear in a slit between two plates of armor, killing it instantly. Pyal and Dexx then continued to kill off the baby scorpions as well, after Florian contemplated the possibility of raising and taming them. As with the other Radscorpions they also harvested the venom sacs, in the hope of later distilling an antidote from it. The rest of the night went by peacefully, and the group set out once more at the break of dawn.

The caravan continued along the trail snaking through the increasingly rough terrain. Not too far from the location where they made camp, a bit away from the path, they suddenly spotted a thin trail of smoke, as from a dying fire. Forewarned about the presence of raiders in the area, Dexx voiced his concern and suggested to best leave the matter uninvestigated. Curiosity got the better of Florian however, who proceeded to climb up the nearest incline in order to get a better view of the source of the fire. From up the small hill he could see clearly a seemingly abandoned campsite, with a tent fit for one, the fire petering out and three figures, all lying next to the fire, motionless. After Florian related these findings to his comrades, Dexx reconsidered and decided to check out the site from up-close. Quietly he made his way over, to discover a quite gruesome sight. First he passed the bodies of two animals, resembling large, wild coyotes, dead in puddles of dried blood, next to them two legs as from a human corpse. He then spotted the human figure perched against the tent, unconscious, who was in fact a very decrepit looking Ghoul. Both his legs had most likely been ripped off by the creatures, and a blackened iron rod seemed to indicate the Ghoul himself had subsequently cauterized the wounds to survive. Dexx noticed the hunting rifle lying at the Ghoul’s side, picked it up and, nurturing nothing but hatred for Ghouls, made to leave again. Luckily for the unfortunate Ghoul, at that moment Florian had decided to wander over to the campsite as well, who was quite appalled when he found out that Dexx was planning on leaving the Ghoul out there to die, without offering help. Dexx took no notice and returned to the caravan, while Florian fulfilled his Hippocratic Oath on the first Ghoul he ever encountered. Skilfully he cleaned and bandaged the wounds and managed to revive the Ghoul. Styg, as his name turned out to be, proved grateful for this unselfish act of compassion and not at all like a feral mindless creature which Dexx had warned him about. Unable to take care of himself, Styg asked to join the group until they reached the nearest town. Dexx adamantly refused, but Jacob was swayed to Florian’s point of view. The two of them made an improvised stretcher and carried Styg back to the caravan, where they placed him in one of the large wicker baskets on the Brahmin’s back. Having meanwhile noticed that his “Annabelle” was missing, Styg demanded his rifle returned to him, but Dexx continued to ignore the Ghoul and the matter was left unsettled for the time being.

Around late afternoon the caravan reached a point where the hills became impassable for any beast of burden, and as going around them would take up much more time than their agreed on time-schedule permitted, the only way open to them was a narrow ravine, twisting for about half a mile through the hills, its steep sides about twelve feet high. Suspecting this to be a very advantageous spot for an ambush by the raiders said to have been spotted around these hills, Dexx and Pyal decided to scout ahead along the edges of the cliff sides, while the others waited at the mouth of the ravine. With Dexx gone, Styg managed to convince Florian to return his hunting rifle to him in case of an attack, which Florian found together with the other rifle Dexx found earlier in one of the other Brahmin baskets. Dexx and Pyal tried their best scouting ahead quietly and cautiously, but before long disaster struck, as a gun was heard being fired and Dexx saw his friend Pyal take a bullet in the chest and fall to the ground. Diving for cover himself, Dexx was subsequently fired on but managed to stay out of harm’s way. The others, alerted by the sound of gunfire, rushed after their friends, through the ravine. Eventually the firing ceased, and a rough voice informed Dexx that they were trespassing on Rattlesnake territory, and that they would have to pay a toll of $50 each, while another raider dragged Pyal away. More raiders appeared, including a few brawny men and a tough looking woman wearing make-shift metal armor. Dexx dropped down from the cliff side and rejoined the caravan, but finding themselves hopelessly outnumbered, they saw no way out except for bartering for their safe passage and the return of their friend. Having no cash and not wanting to give up any of the Brahmin, they offered their only remaining rifle, which was acceptable for the raiders. True to their word, the raiders stepped back and allowed the caravan to pass and also returned Pyal to them, who by this time had lost a lot of blood, so that even Florian’s medical skills were of no avail. After whispering his final goodbyes to Rhiannon, Pyal, far from his native village, wife and children their friend, whose skill with the spear had often been of great use, passed on the hunting grounds in the sky. Carefully the group laid his body on one of the Brahmin, to be cremated as soon as possibly as is the custom of his tribe. With this great loss the caravan emerged from the ravine, now not more than a few hours away from their destination.

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