Archfossil Life · Short Stories

Day 4 – Demon Hunters #1

As I mentioned in the Day 3 story yesterday I did not have a badge at this point. True Dungeon was beat to the print by Dead Gentlemen who currently held my access badge and I missed the pick-up date by a couple of days. Luckily I managed to get a hold of Chris Ode and we worked it out. I’d be there a little early for my 9 AM game to pick up the badge and everything would be totally fine.

I found a parking space in Pan Am Plaza right across the street from the Convention Center and started contacting Chris to meet-up for my badge. I was there at about 7 in the morning and had two hours before my game.

An hour and a half later, I had walked three laps around the convention center looking for the exhibitors entrance. Between the hot sun, the True Dungeon set-up of the last few days, and my lack of sleep from speed reading the Demon Hunters PDF in preparation for today, I was already about to die. Eventually though I ran into him and he handed me the badge. My first ever GenCon badge and it read “Gamemaster” with “Zombie Orpheus Entertainment” underneath it.

These are the guys who have made some of my favorite things on the internet. And I was wearing a badge with their name on it, representing them in a game I really liked. As nervous as I was in all the days leading up to this, and as panicked as I was that this whole hide & seek process would take too long, it all melted away when I got the badge and started heading for the Marriott where the game was hosted. Everything was replaced with excitement and I couldn’t wait to get there.

So after I had walked to the J.W. Marriott to have Chris tell me I needed to be on the other side of the convention center to get my badge, and then walk all the way back to the Marriott after receiving said badge, I learned I was at the wrong Marriott hotel and that apparently there’s like 5 of them downtown. I got nervous again because if I had to drive somewhere to find this thing that meant finding another parking space and I only had a couple minutes left at this point. But then it turned out to be like a block away from the hotel I was standing in, so it actually wasn’t all that bad and I could get excited again.

I walked in, found the Florida room, and saw Don sitting at my table with a couple of players already flipping through the character sheets. I took my seat, pulled out the laptop I’m using to write this on that would be my DM-screen of sorts, and pulled the Demon Hunters PDF and the adventure we’d be running to be prepared for the game. Meanwhile Don was kind enough to do a Starbucks run and get me the “something frozen” that I asked for. (I’m not big on Starbucks and I didn’t actually know what to order.) He also came back with a banana. I am also not big on banana’s so for a while the players and I used it to indicate who’s turn it actively was as a joke. (I did eat it later though. I mean it was a free banana and all…)

I ended up with 4 players. (You can see their characters here.)

We went in with an Albrecht who is a man partially turned werewolf. Rigor Mortis who is a vampire in a sun suit. Bijou a mad scientist / voodoo priestess. And Gabriel, the guy in charge.

I’m a strong believer in my ability to improvise and fill plot on the fly, so I gave the players total freedom in this one. Even though in our example (and from what the Adventure read) we were expected to be carrying some form of cargo in a carrier plane to wherever the PCs wanted to go. I decided rather than just letting the players choose the cargo and location to allow them to choose the method of transportation as well. However during this first game when I tried to do this, I suggested the Plane and they all went for it. So we ended up on the plane anyway. A lesson learned for next session, don’t suggest anything.  I wanted this to be organic and if I was dropping suggestions, I wouldn’t get those unique and interesting stories that I wanted.

Now the rest of this is going to read something like a game journal, because it basically is. The next few hours I just spent playing Demon Hunters, and so that’s where the story is going. I figure it’s worth mentioning because not everyone who’s reading these are Tabletop RPG fans and I don’t want anyone to get lost if they’re interested so far.

Alongside choosing to transport the cargo via plane, the decided upon cargo was a Demon Egg, and the location they were travelling to was an indistinct “Celestial Torch base in the north arctic somewhere.”

(EDIT: I didn’t mention this upon immediate release of this story, but the “group” the players work for is called The Brotherhood of the Celestial Torch. My bad for not making that clear the first time.)

The plane started suffering major turbulence. Not that unusual for their line of work, but it was getting notably worse. Rigor Mortis decided to be the first to investigate the status of her pilots. She got to the first door and listened, hearing a gentle wind. She panicked a bit and wrapped her arms in the cargo straps nearby before forcing the door open, expecting to create a vacuum and get sucked out of the plane. She felt silly when she learned this was the short hall prior to the cockpit door where first aid kits and parachutes were stored and the wind she heard was an air vent set to high.

She approached the actual cockpit door and learned that they’re very thick and bulletproof on post 9/11 aircraft and not designed to be opened from the back. Eventually she managed to pop it open and discovered a baseball sized hole in the planes windshield, and a likewise sized hole in the Pilots face. At this point the pressure had been released, the cockpit windshield collapsed, and she gripped the mostly-unwound cargo straps around her arms as the vacuum she created threatened to suck her out of the plane.

Bijou was quick to act, she raced towards the front and dealt with the vacuum effect swiftly as she placed a magical barrier over the cockpit to block the airflow and save Rigor from vacuum-y suction death. Meanwhile a new breach had opened up in the back of the plane after what had sounded kind of like cannon fire. Albrecht moved to the back to discover the source and spotted what appeared to be a Pirate Ship mixed with a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. The crew had just met Arr MiHardies, captain of the M.O.N.S.T.E.R. fleet, and he was here to retrieve himself a Demon Egg.

Now that they had a means of entry, Arr MiHardies skeletal crew of overzealous sky pirates began swinging over using rappelling hooks and a couple activated jetpacks to close the gap. Even more skeletal pirates were being loaded bone by bone into the cannons and fired at the ship to self-assemble later when all their parts arrived. This Celestial Torch cargo plane was getting raided pretty hard.

Gabriel, in typical leader fashion, rushed to the cockpit to take control of the plane. Bijou reached for the nearest “weapon-type-thing” and pulled out a carpenters hammer and then charged it with magical energy to make it sort of “blessed” and extra anti-skeleton-y before passing it off to Albrecht who would use it to start smashing out windows and bashing skeletons off the plane as they tried to make the jump over from their airship.

Albrecht is a man who’s only barely so, and his werewolf shows from time to time. Having him armed with a blessed hammer seemed like the perfect time to invoke his “barely holding it together” quality and the player controlling him agreed. Albrecht had a good run knocking down the boneheads, but suffered his own burning wounds as the magical charge on the hammer eventually coalesced and turned on him due to his werewolf nature.

 

Thankfully by this point, Gabe had managed to secure an advantageous position by raising the elevation of the cargo plane and making it harder for more skeletons to board. Rigor Mortis used this position to start flinging out the excess cargo onto the ship below.

Unfortunately for our group, the skeletons that had been “fired” over were starting to assemble and cause a fracas. The team wasn’t convinced they could hold the entire plane so they collapsed their defenses to the cockpit, dragged the Demon Egg with them, and then had Bijou make a nice anti-gravity field where they were sitting so Gabe could pull off a barrel roll and shake up the skeletons on board.

This actually went better than expected when his barrel roll crash landed his plane on the enemy airship. Using some quick thinking and Rigor Mortis’ vampire speed with the teams Cipher robots guidance, they integrated the cargo planes controls with the enemy airship and now Gabriel was flying a giant monstrosity of Cargo Plane / Helicarrier / Pirate Ship through a frigid wasteland with a demon egg strapped into the navigators chair.

At this point the shaken and stirred and rolled skeletons started to mob the cockpit, so Bijou focused more power on the field and shifted the purpose of her magic from “anti-gravity” to “defense against bony death” which the whole team was grateful for, but it wasn’t working out so well. She decided to attempt to siphon power from the Demon Egg, which went well for a while, but it was quickly becoming apparent that the egg wasn’t happy with this and Bijou had to stop before she threatened hatching the thing mid-flight in cramped quarters and while under siege. She settled for recycling the magic she used on the blessed hammer since Albrecht didn’t want to use it anymore, and because his eyes grew wide eyed and out of focus whenever he touched it for some reason.

With her limited time and resources, Bijou had decided to concoct an adrenal shot from cannibalized first-aid kits in the cockpit area and give Rigor Mortis’ already incredible speed an even bigger boost. The second she plunged the needle into Rigor’s neck though, the vampire snapped and turned on Bijou, chomping her in the arm. It might have been avoidable if Bijou had announced her plan before up and stabbing Rigor, but who’s to say. The important thing was that after a quick *gulp* the team vampire was now charged with the blood of a Haitian Voodoo Priestess and the protective bubble was starting to fail.

Arr MiHardies, who had the whole “how do I board that plane?” problem eliminated for him when Gabriel barrel rolled into his airship walked up the cargo ramp with a massive cannon, pointed it straight at the cockpit through his horde of skeletal minions and lit the fuze while taking a Captain Morgan pose on the base of the thing and letting loose a hearty pirate chuckle.

The dome fell, and the cannon was set to obliterate the entire front half of the plane from within. Albrecht, Bijou, and Rigor started smashing through the skeletons as Gabriel tilted the plane downwards, eventually hitting a point where everyone needed to grab hold of something or be thrown to their feet. Arr MiHardies was tripped up when his giant cannon wheeled away from him into the cockpit, and by the time he looked up to see where it went, Albrecht had already turned it around and pointed it right back at him.

Now that the skeleton mob had all been bashed or bowled over by super-charged vampires and giant cannons respectively, Albrecht began to roll it right back out the ramp Arr MiHardies had come up. Clinging to the barrel of the cannon, kicking his feet in an effort to not get run over by it, Albrecht was making sure to keep the explosive end pointed straight at the poor ghost pirates eyepatch while he dragged him towards the back.

The super-speedy Vampire now all juiced on voodoo blood performed a 360 degree head rotation then stuck to the ceiling and speed-crawled her way to where Albrecht was dragging Arr off the plane. She lifted the pirate and crammed him part-way, legs first, into the gun and then left the rest to Albrecht who no longer had to aim.

Arr MiHardies, as is his nature as a ghost pirate, attempted to switch bodies with Albrecht last minute. The two were stuck in an epic internal struggle which to the outside eye looked like a lot of “YAARR” and “GRRR” back and forth. Albrecht, who was already barely keeping it together, invoked his family history and shouted something along the lines of “You could never be an Albrecht!” before dropping the pirate loaded cannon out the back of the plane and hearing it fire on the way down.

And there’s the basics of the first day of Demon Hunters. My party managed to deliver the egg, defeat Arr MiHardies, and secure the M.O.N.S.T.E.R. flagship in the process. Overall, a pretty solid success.

Not just for them, but for me since all around the table everyone had good things to say. They all had fun, loved the game, and knew Dead Gentlemen. The best compliment I got was “You never said no.” in reference to how I ran the game. I helped everyone justify everything they wanted to do because it would make for a better story. Not just for this post or for Archfossil, but for them when they would go home and tell their friends. In short, I spent a long time being nervous for nothing.

Dead Gentlemen is right here for your viewing pleasure. The Demon Hunters RPG also has it’s own site found right here. Check them both for some of the best gaming content you can find out there right now.

If you liked the story, want to see more, then consider checking out the Archfossil Patreon or telling your friends about the site. Spreading the word and becoming a patron are the best and most direct ways of supporting Archfossil and helping to ensure that I can keep this up and running.

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