Commander Gustav Zagan, the hardholder. Likes everything to be ordered and as it should be, and rules Apotheosis with an iron fist to achieve that. He keeps the people united by scaring them with stories of the mutants living in the wasteland, who he portrays as like Firefly-style reavers.
Dodge, the driver. Very mercenary, and known for being able to get risky jobs done, for the right price. Her other car is a tank.
Grigsby delBarco, the news. An odd figure, wears an old-fashioned suit and keeps to himself in his radio shack, broadcasting “Technical Difficulties”, his show. Fancies himself a playwright, and tries to write moral plays; but they’re always slightly off. Has a prosthetic throat which crackles with static, makes it sound like he’s always speaking over the radio, and prevents him from eating solid food.
Leah Morrel, the savvyhead. Laid claim to a hangar, which she uses as her workshop, and is secretly constructing a WWII-era plane in. Lives in the radio shack with Grigsby delBarco.
Oi, the child-thing. Ambiguously gendered00But I’m going to use female pronouns because “they” and “them” get really awkward.
. Travels the wastes to avoid the Wolves, and is currently living in the attic of the radio shack in Apotheosis. Called “Oi” because that’s what people shout after her.
Ruby Monsoon, the battlebabe. Often found in bars, drinking and playing with her seemingly endless collection of knives. Has a friendly rivalry with Dodge.
Nobody knows what happened, but they do know the effects. The world is as it was, mostly, but all the rain is acid, and heavy downpours are common. You don’t want to get caught out in one of those without protection, and you definitely don’t want to drink the untreated water.
Some plants and animals have adapted biologically, becoming resistant to the acid. Others live in shelter their entire lives. Those which could do neither have died off. The acid-adapted plants and animals can be eaten, but they don’t taste good.
Some humans have adapted too, becoming the mutants living out in the wastes. They have varying degrees of mental acuity: some are almost human, others are little more than feral beasts. They tend to live in small groups, the more human ones form camps, the more feral ones form hunting packs.
Zagan portrays them all as mindless monsters, to unite the people of Apotheosis with a shared fear and loathing.
Apotheosis11Also known as Hope City.
itself is an old military air base which Zagan laid claim to and built up. Situated with the wastes to the west and other human settlements a few miles to the east. It mostly gets by with raiding other settlements, both human and mutant. Some hunting, scavenging, and crude farming fill the gaps.
It’s a large base, with between 75 and 150 people living there at any time, there’s not been an accurate count done in a while. It’s well-armed too, with both weapons and specialised battle vehicles. Zagan keeps order with his gang of 40 savage bastards, who he somehow keeps control of, for now…
Food and other resources are rationed, with everyone getting what they need. For more special fare, bullets serve as the de facto currency, both within Apotheosis itself and in the wider world.
To the west is the wastes. Rocky, hilly, and barren; inhabited by mutated animals and men, adapted to deal with the toxic water. Occasionally Apotheosis sends out squads to cull the mutant camps.
To the east is Malice, a town which was occupied by various disunited gangs. It was Apotheosis’ prime raiding target, as no one group was strong enough to stand up to it. But, some weeks ago, a new boss arrived in town, and united the gangs under one rule. Now they’re a force to be reckoned with.
To the south is Mistfield Farm, a small religious community who supply food to Apotheosis in exchange for protection. Zagan engineered this relationship by showing up just in the nick of time to save the faithful from a band of raiders, what a nice guy. What they don’t know is that Zagan enticed the raiders in the first place.
Session 0, 2020-02-29
It’s a fine morning with no current acid rain, though it has rained overnight.
Zagan is out supervising repair works on the fence, which was damaged in a recent mutant raid. The workers are very organised, with no arguments or brawling, just getting on with the task. As he likes it.
Leah wakes up in her messy bedroom in the radio shack, atop the pile of clothes she uses for a bed. She’s not been living there for long, only a few months; maybe a year at most. She goes out into the kitchen and rummages through the fridge for some breakfast: a delicious can of spam, hiding at the back, behind the tubes of Grigsby’s weird nutrient paste. As she opens the can, she becomes aware of the crackle of static, and turns around to see Grigsby. Leah chucks him a food-paste-tube and eats her disgusting spam.
When she’s done with it, a cupboard opens and Oi peeks out. “You gonna use that?” Leah shakes her head and passes the can to Oi, who disappears out the front door and scrambles up the front of the building. Leah looks in the cupboard Oi came from: there’s no obvious hidden entrance.
Leah decides to go to the warehouse to get some parts for her project: she’s been building a WWII-era plane in her workshop, and it’s nearly done. She’s been stealing parts to work on it, but is worried people have started to catch on. Got to play it honest from now on and just get parts legitimately. All she needs now is an engine, and she can go flying through the sky, free of this place. She doesn’t want Zagan to know about the plane though, as he’ll come up with some nasty military use for it.
The warehouse is the domain of Foster, the quartermaster. Harsh and inflexible, but he’ll give you what you want as long as you’re not taking more than your fair share. He’s Zagan’s man to a T. As Leah is negotiating with Foster for an engine—just an engine, she doesn’t want word getting out that she’s looking for a plane engine—Zagan himself shows up, drinking a cup of cheap instant coffee. Well, it was cheap, in the old days, now it’s a luxury item, and he sends out raiding parties just to stock up.
Zagan’s arrival unnerves Leah, but he doesn’t talk. He just watches her go get the engine, and stagger out the warehouse back towards her hangar. When she’s half way there he hands his mug to Foster, in much the same way you’d put it down on a table, and strides after her. “Need a hand?” She thanks him, but he follows anyway, only turning to go after she’s inside the hangar.
Ruby and Dodge wake up in the bar, in a pile of empty cans and discarded peanut shells. There’s nobody else there. Ruby got back last night from a secret mission for Zagan—getting more coffee—and the first thing she did was challenge Dodge to a drinking contest. She groans, and heads off to deliver her secret package, though Grigsby’s voice over the radio is now saying “Folks, rumour has it that a new shipment of coffee arrived in Apotheosis today!”
Dodge is still struggling to move when Dinnerlady, the man who runs the bar and canteen, arrives to set up for the day. “You look like shit, go clean up.” He throws a packet of peanuts to her and starts polishing glasses.
Oi stands on the roof of the warehouse, as she often does, looking out across the waste. She opens her mind, trying to sense the Wolves… and knows instantly that one is to the east, a few miles away.
A few minutes later, Zagan hears Oi’s voice through the panels of his ceiling warning him to watch out for “them”. Oi has spoken to him like this before, but she’s never shown herself.
Session 1, 2020-03-14
It’s a wet afternoon here in Apotheosis. It’s been raining pretty heavily for the past few days, and so people have been keeping indoors. Now that it’s cleared up, people are emerging from their homes, some are going ’round inspecting the buildings for any damage, their thick boots squelching in the acidic mud.
But first, it’s time for Grigsby’s broadcast:
That was, of course, Frank Sinatra: The World We Knew.
In Frank’s world, stars are signs to be read and the sun and moon are things to be owned. His hands held dreams and his feet turned the ground to gold. I’m not sure what world he knew, but it sure isn’t this one.
And now, it’s my favourite part of the show: fan mail time—and this time I’m especially excited because we have some mail!
I think this one is for me; it’s addressed “Grigsby you pathetic little bitch.” He writes: “Whoever tore out your throat had the right idea trying to shut you up. One day soon, I’m going to finish the job, if someone else doesn’t beat me to it. Stay scared, snitch, won’t be long now. Innkeeper’s coming for you.”
So thanks to Innkeeper for your letter—it’s fan mail like this that reminds me what I do—and please don’t stop sending your letters to us here on Technical Difficulties, our bunker is just outside Hope City and we really do read everything…
It’s time now for the news, but I must remind you as always that truth is never stranger than fiction.
A little Jackbird tells me that the gangs out in Malice are quiet these days, recovering from the last raid. Rumour has it a new boss is rising up and uniting the gangs under a single cause. Let’s hope Zagan’s boys are ready when they make their next move.
Speaking of; flares to the west indicate another successful culling of mutant encroachment near the borderlands. Zagan’s troops will be returning as heroes tomorrow in a celebration I like to call Tuesday. It’s time to slaughter the fat-cats and fire up the junk-ovens, I feel a feast coming on.
Last night, life came crawling from the maelstrom here to humble Apotheosis. Filthy onlookers described the baby’s limb count “damned close to normal”, and the mother hopes this time her child will be allowed to live. The father, currently in negotiations with Commander Zagan, says this: “Sure, my boy may be a little bit mutant, but who isn’t these days? If we bring him up him right, he’ll join the culling and take down hundreds of muties ten times more mutant than himself. I call that a net win.” More as the story unfolds.
I tell you, it always warms my heart to see new life brought into the world. So before I close today’s show with another classic, I’d just like to wish everyone a happy birthday.
Stay tuned, stay safe, stay sane.
Here’s one for the little baby mutant, The Ink Spots: It’s All Over but the Crying.
Commander Zagan paces back and forth in his office, concerned by the food situation in Apotheosis. Supplies are running low. He sends a man to fetch Grigsby, to see if his informants have heard any rumours of new targets.
A little later, Grigsby arrives, pausing in the corridor outside the waiting room; Miss Vine, Zagan’s weird creepy secretary is there, making some coffee at her desk. He composes himself, and tries to walk through the room to the office door without acknowledging her or drawing her attention at all. Unfortunately for him, she looks up at him, she looks up through him, and says “the commander is expecting you, Grigsby, I’ll check if he’s ready.”
Zagan hears a knocking, and opens his door. It’s Miss Vine, holding his coffee, with Grigsby anxiously standing behind her. He takes the coffee and invites Grigsby in. Grigsby presses against the doorframe, trying to squeeze through as far from Miss Vine as he can get.
With the door shut, Grigsby calms down, and looks around at the office for anything that’s changed since he was last here. There’s just one thing, a small golden figure of a bull. Following his gaze, Zagan comments that Dodge picked it up on a recent raid. They make some small talk. Neither have seen a bull in real life. “It’s hard to imagine what they used such small creatures for,” one says, assuming it’s life-sized.
Zagan then gets to the point. Because he and Grigsby have some history, he can be very frank about the situation. Apotheosis is not in a good place right now, and if demand keeps up as it has… well, best not to think about that. Grigsby says that one of his informants is due to report in later in the day, and he’s expecting a tip about a new settlement. But there’s a price: he wants to be paid, and he wants the new mutant-baby to live.
Bad then turns to worse as one of the gardeners, Balls, shows up with the news that a greenhouse got damaged in the storm, and the rain killed a bunch of the crops.
Zagan and Grigsby argue back and forth a bit, and eventually settle on Grigsby being paid, and Zagan being noncommittal about the baby. “Well, I won’t order anything done, but I may not have as tight a rein on my men as you seem to think….” he says.
Leah goes over to her workshop for the first time in days, to find the padlock smashed clean off the door. Someone broke in and they weren’t subtle about it. She carefully opens the door, looking and listening for anyone inside. She edges over to the light switch, and flicks it on…
But something has happened: three of the jeeps have been smashed up pretty bad. Fortunately it looks all cosmetic—dented bodies and broken windows—and these weren’t the prettiest of vehicles to start with. The plane is fine.
“That’s pretty damaged,” Oi says, appearing out of nowhere. She didn’t see what happened.
Leah decides to open her mind to the maelstrom and try to sense what happened. It’s normally a calm experience: there’s a sensation of freefall, then exhilaration as she soars through a blue sky. Perhaps this is where she got the idea to make the plane from. She feels strong emotions, senses a voice, and sees someone holding a hammer. It’s Newton, a scrawny little twerp who’s been watching her lately. Seems he’s got a crush and doesn’t know how to express it, but it’s gone way too far now.
Newton lives somewhere in the dorms, so she heads off to find him, Oi in tow.
Unlike many of the buildings in Apotheosis, which have been adapted from their original purpose, the dorms were clearly built as dorms. But now they’re way more densely populated than they’d been designed for, and any spare spaces—like laundry and storage rooms—are being used as homes. The space between the four big buildings serves as a kind of outdoor social space.
It takes a little hunting, but she finally finds herself outside a door scrawled with “Newton” in some sort of paint. She knocks on the door, sees the peephole darken and then lighten again as if someone briefly looked through it. The door doesn’t open. “Hey Newton, I know you’re in there!” she yells as she bangs on the door.
Eventually it opens a crack, and a scrawny little guy, mid teens at most, peers out at her. It’s Newton. At first he feigns ignorance but, under her continued stare and verbal harangue, eventually gives in and admits “I just wanted to be noticed”. The door swings open a little wider, and he passes the hammer to Leah. “Don’t ever let me catch you back at my workshop again!”
Grigsby is sat in the shack, at the appointed time. On the door sounds the appointed knock. Grigsby opens it, to reveal Dune, one of his informants. They talk a bit about the situation in Malice, “almost nobody’s seen the new boss, but rumour says he’s not very big or tough looking… but something about him scares people, and they do what he says.” Then they move onto the topic of a new farm, Mistfield Farm, which a bunch of religious nuts started to the south. It’s been there for about a month now, and they’re preparing fields for crops. Grigsby decides this is just the sort of thing Zagan is looking for.
Zagan, Dodge, and some of the thugs are driving south to the farm. Since she’s got company, Dodge gets out the fancy whisky for this trip, offering some to Zagan, then taking a swig for herself, without taking her eyes off the road. Much.
It’s not long before they get their first sight of Mistfield Farm: wooden buildings, outdoor fields—that’s unusual, people normally use greenhouses—covered by a makeshift gazebo and surrounded by a ditch to catch the rain, and a few people doing construction or working in the fields. One man approaches as they pull up. He introduces himself as Brother Grome and, after learning who they are and where they came from, asks what their visit is for. Zagan wastes no time in getting to it: he wants them to supply Apotheosis with food. In exchange, they’ll protect the farm from raiders, who will certainly be coming once word of an undefended food source gets out.
Brother Grome doesn’t really see the point. They’ve been here for a month now without being bothered and, besides, they have God on their side. What do they have to fear?
Zagan sees that they’re getting nowhere, makes his excuses, and the gang head back to Apotheosis.
Back in Apotheosis…
Zagan shows up at the radio shack, and has Grigsby mention the farm in his next broadcast. Not exactly telling people that it’s undefended and would be a good target, but certainly hinting it.
Leah checks the storehouse again for a plane engine, in case one has come in in the last few days. But there’s still nothing. So she goes to find Dodge.
Dodge is in the bar, which is called The Rattlesnake, surrounded by empty glasses, bottles, cans, and packets of peanuts as usual. Leah carefully broaches the subject, saying that this has to be kept a secret from Zagan, “sure, it’s not like I tell that guy everything, what’s up?”
Dodge has a few likely places she can check for an engine, and all she wants as payment is to have a go at flying it. And what Zagan doesn’t know won’t hurt him.
Oi is in her lair, the attic and ventilation pipes of the radio shack. She’s listening to a radio that only she can hear, which speaks about another world. Satisfied with what she has heard, she leaves her lair and goes to the store. She’s noticed, but nobody says anything to her. After looking around a bit, she finds what she’s looking for: some discarded packaging material. She takes some string, and returns to her lair.
She eats the string, and feels happy.
A few days later…
An orange flare is seen to the south: the signal, sent by one of Zagan’s men left behind, that there are raiders approaching the farm. Apotheosis sets forth with a small gang in tanks. Almost everyone is along for the ride: Zagan and Dodge and leading the charge, Grigsby is there with a portable radio kit to broadcast that the farm is now under Apotheosis protection, and Leah is there in case any repairs are needed.
They arrive to find six raiders terrorising the farm. Some buildings are on fire, there’s been fighting, and crates of supplies are being carried off as the religious nuts protest. Apotheosis forces, which outnumber the raiders, advance and start to take control of the situation.
It looks pretty safe now, so Leah gets out of her tank to fix some damaged tread but while she’s distracted doing that, a seventh raider sneaks up and grabs her, holding a gun to her head. He yells to “call off your men, or I’ll shoot!”
Zagan pops his head out of his tank and keeps the man talking while his troops capture the others. He then says “now run off and tell any of your other friends that this place is under my protection!” The raider quickly glances behind himself, backs up some more, then shoves Leah forward and runs off.
This time, Zagan doesn’t have any difficulty convincing Brother Grome that they need his protection. He has Grigsby broadcast a message that if you mess with Mistfield Farm you mess with Apotheosis, and gives some flare guns to Brother Grome to signal Apotheosis with if they’re attacked again.
Session 2, 2020-03-28
Last time, Apotheosis faced a potential food crisis, but Grigsby and Commander Zagan used their twisted minds to threaten a religious commune into supplying food to Apotheosis in exchange for protection. Also, Dodge agreed to help Leah find a plane engine, for the low price of letting her fly it, at least a few times. And Oi ate some string.
But first, it’s time for Grigsby’s broadcast:
Time now for your daily ration of news. If truth is like a toenail, today’s truths are the yellowing claws of a corpse in the rain.
Last night the travellers moved on; their colourful caravans of red, blue, and the forgotton color dissapeared into the sunset; their tunes, tales, and merry games still linger in the tendrils of recent memory. I urge you all to enjoy them while you still can.
I was actually given a personal warning from one of our fans: Innkeeper, who you’ll rememeber sent a letter to the station last week. She’d like to tell that bastard at the radio shack that she’s coming you’re way and that you don’t need to do anything; oh sorry, you can’t do anything, about it. If you’re “that bastard at the radio shack” I hope you’re listening, or if you think you know who Innkeeper is planning a visit for, do let them know. We’re always happy to keep people informed here on Technical Difficulties.
Speaking of, I’d like to announce the happy news that food has been born out in Mistfield farms and the first bundle of joy has been delivered without complications right to our doorstep. The commander would like to remind anybody listening from outside Hope City that the Mistfield is under Apotheosis protection, and he’s invited anyone to take some for yourselves and see what happens.
I wouldn’t like to smell the mess left behind by anyone that takes the commander up on that offer, but if I was still a betting man after losing two weeks of nutrient paste to the travellers in a rigged game of dice: my shells would be on the new boss of Malice City.
Spies and eyes have gone missing out that way, as it seems the new combat training routines are using live target practice. The way those gangs all march together under a common banner or were crushed underfoot for daring to step in the way of progress is really an inspiration to us all: it doesn’t matter if you’re in Malice or Hope City; good footwear is important.
And that’s all the news the maelstrom will listen to tonight, folks. End Transmission. Bye bye now. Okay, bye. Bye-bye.
Grigsby eyes Leah over breakfast. He know’s she’s up to something.
Flashback to the night before, Grigsby reviewing his security camera footage and seeing Leah’s comings and goings.
He can smell a story, and wants to get involved. But when asked, she just deflects the question, poorly, and escapes outside. Grigsby follows, and sees her meeting with Dodge, “I think Grigsby suspects something” “that you’re going to Malice?”
Grigsby steps out of the shadows, “you’re going to Malice, you say? Mind if I come along? I’d like to investigate the new boss out that way.”
Leah panics. Dodge tells him to fuck off. A brief negotiation later, the three are on the road to Malice, Grigsby having handed over some oddments in payment. Dodge likes fast cars and fast music, and puts the latter on, loudly.
Ruby is outside Apotheosis, near the entrance, doing some target practice. Next to her is a small, but growing, pile of small dead animals. A hairless and deformed fox scurries out of the undergrowth. She splits its head open. More meat.
A man approaches, walking down the Malice road. He’s kind of thin, medium height, and wearing a thick yellow hooded cloak. In the distance behind him, clouds start to gather. He stops a little short of the entrance, looking between Ruby and the guards, and loudly asks if he can have leave to enter. Ruby ignores him. One of the guards goes to fetch Commander Zagan.
Commander Zagan is showing around a newly-arrived family, bragging about all the fantastic amenities Apotheosis has: running water, rationed spam, dry beds. A veritable paradise.
The guard arrives, and whispers his errand in the commander’s ear. Zagan makes his apologies to the family, and sits them down to watch an educational film about Apotheosis: bits of tape from pre-apocalypse films spliced together, with new bits inserted showing old-style silent film dialogue cards.
Zagan arrives at the gate. He glances at Ruby and her pile of corpses, but keeps most of his attention on the man. They have a brief conversation. The man asks if he can come in to spread “the word of chaos”, but Zagan isn’t having any of that.
The storm is growing, but Zagan pushes the man out. As a gesture of goodwill, he gives the man a hat to protect himself. But no preaching in Apotheosis today.
The man sets off back down the road.
Ruby arrives in the Rattlesnake, and wordlessly hands over her still-dripping bag of fresh meat. Dinnerlady, just as wordlessly, hands her a crate of bottles of drink and tins of food. This is an exchange they’ve performed many times before.
Dodge’s jeep pulls into the junkyard. It’s close to Malice, but the piles of crap are so high you can hide behind them. Everyone gets out of the car. Oi appears from somewhere, and scrambles up a junk mountain to keep an eye out.
Leah and Dodge get to searching. Grigsby just hangs around.
Atop her mountain, Oi spies three men in Malice, near the junkyard. She opens her mind to the maelstrom trying to sense if any of them are wolves, as she knows there is one in Malice. To her shock, there is a wolf: it’s near Apotheosis, not Malice, but it’s and getting closer. Feels like it’s on the road, a few hours walk away. Oi scrambles down and reports her findings: “we’ve got to go, it’s not safe! there’s three men, and a wolf!”
Grigsby isn’t scared of any wolves, but he is interested in those men. He slips away, and approaches them.
They stop when they see him. He greets them, saying “you may have heard me on the radio.”
“The radio station from Apotheosis?” one says.
“Ah, a fan! I have some questions about your new boss, if you don’t mind.”
“Apotheosis? I think the boss would like to meet you, but he’s out just now, should be back later” another man says.
“Oh, well, here’s my card, it’s got my private radio frequency.”
“No, I think the boss would really like to meet you in person.” the same man says, stepping forward menacingly.
“Now just you hang on there, I’m not alone!”
Grigsby manages to bluff that he has some others with him, including the famed sharpshooter Ruby Monsoon, and they’re expecting him back. The man relents, not wanting to get into a shooting match. He takes the card, and they watch him go.
When Grigsby gets back to the junkyard, Dodge and Ruby found a plane engine and are loading it into the car. He doesn’t waste any time, “let’s go!”
The car speeds off out of the junkyard and back towards Apotheosis. On the road, in the rain, they pass a man. A thin medium-height man wearing a thick yellow hooded cloak, with a hat on top of the hood. As the car speeds past, he looks up, and makes eye contact with Oi.
Zagan decides to make a pre-emptive strike against Malice, destroying their armoury. So he got Leah to make a bomb—an unstable thing made out of a car engine, some plastic tubing, and a bunch of colourful liquids; it even had a key to set it off—and set off in the jeep with Dodge, Ruby, Balls, and Dog Head.
They parked out of sight, and snuck into the town. People roamed the streets, and guards stood outside the armoury. The gang crept over to an alley next to the building, and broke a window. Turns out Oi came with them too, and it’s too late to send her back now.
Footsteps approaching. Ruby hid at the entrance to the alley, and quickly dragged in the guard to peered around. She soundlessly slit his throat and lowered the body to the ground.
Dodge decides to see if there was anything in the armoury she wanted before they blew it up, so she hopped in through the window. No car-mounted guns, sadly, but there was a grenade launcher and a sack of grenades. Nice!
Oi opens her mind to the maelstrom again, trying to sense the wolf from earlier. She senses it alright: it’s nearby, and it’s suddenly aware of her. Like when Frodo puts the Ring on in Mount Doom and shines like a beacon to Sauron. She clambers through the window, “it’s not safe!”, opens a door, and hides beneath a desk. After a few minutes, Zagan coaxes her out, saying that they’re leaving now.
Everyone but Dog Head sneaks back out. He leans through the window, ignites the bomb, drops it, and sprints out without trying to be stealthy. A few seconds later the building erupts: windows and doors blown out, people on the street knocked over. He’s blown over too, but got far enough away that he can pick himself up and keep going. Everyone piles into Dodge’s jeep, which tears away down the road, with no attempt at stealth.
Two other vehicles start pursuing: a massive keep with metal spikes stuck all over it, and a sleek, vintage, convertible, with three people crammed into two seats. Dodge tries to slam the convertible off the road, but misjudges the distance and stops short; it slams her instead, tearing up the side and ripping off some of the armour plating.
Just then, Leah arrives in the APC, bouncing over a rise, slamming into the convertible and flinging it off the road. Its side crumpled in, and the passengers crumpled, too. They’re not moving any time soon.
Dodge slows down and pulls up next to the APC. Ruby jumps to the APC. Leah jumps in surprise.
The spiky jeep slams its brakes on, and Dodge crashes into the back of it; the windshield, lights, and bonnet perforated. The people manage to avoid the spikes though.
Ruby opens fire with the APC’s machine gun, pinning down the men in the jeep.
Zagan clambers out of the busted windshield, over the other vehicle, shoots the driver, the passenger gets one shot off but it pings off Zagan’s armour; Zagan kills him too, climbs into the jeep, and drives it back to Apotheosis.
Session 3, 2020-04-11
Last time, Leah got her plane engine, Grigsby got away from some malicious men, Dodge got a grenade launcher, Ruby got a crate of alcohol, and Gustav got to blow up an armoury. I think that’s about it.
The radio broadcast this time was just a bulleted list of updates:
- Leah got a new engine for some sort of project she’s working on.
- Roark, mentioned in the first broadcast, was promoted to Captain of the Defence Force and was allowed to keep his child.
- Dremmer, hitherto unmentioned, the Captain of the Suppression Force, started trouble again—something about not getting enough respect—and in the ensuing fight was put in the infirmary.
Flashback to Roark’s promotion…
After a private meeting in his office, Zagan took Roark out for the public celebration of his promotion. A big stage, a big handshake, and the presentation of a medal. Troops gave a gun salute. Not all the troops had matching equipment, and some of the medals were bottle caps, but it was as grand as Zagan could make it.
At Mistfield Farm…
Leah arrived at the farm, with Dog Head driving, called out to fix a busted generator. Brother Grome is waiting for them.
“Grome again…” says Dog Head. Leah asks what’s up: he thinks something’s wrong. Brother Grome always seems to be around, and somehow shows up and interrupts every time you try to talk to anyone else at the farm. Very strange.
Brother Grome takes them to the generator shed, explaining about how it stopped working, and leaves Leah and Dog Head to get on with it, but says he’ll be nearby if they need him. The generator is broken, but Leah can fix it with a couple of hours work.
Part way through, Dog Head says “watch this”, and steps out of the shed. Immediately Brother Grome appears and asks if they need anything. “No, just stretching my legs.”
Dog Head suggests you two split up so that one of you can talk to the others here, and see what’s going on. Leah asks Brother Grome where the toilets are, he starts to say “if you’ll both follow me…”, before Dog Head interrupts saying he needs to watch the generator. Leah concurs, the flange pump needs reticulating at just the right moment, or they’ll have to start again. Brother Grome seems uncertain, then calls over Sister Mary to show Leah where to go.
Leah tries to engage Sister Mary in conversation, but Sister Mary doesn’t talk. She just looks at the ground as she guides Leah. When Leah brings up Brother Grome, she stumbles a bit, and trembles. She’s terrified.
When she gets back Brother Grome, the usual friendliness in his eyes replaced with suspicion, says that he saw them talking, and asks what they talked about. “Oh, just talking about the farm, it’s a nice community you’ve got here.” The friendliness returns, and they have a chat about what the farmers actually believe in. The way Brother Grome explains it, they see work as morally good, as they’re fulfilling the purpose god gave them—just like how animals fulfil their natural purpose—and that sloth is the ultimate sin.
Leah and Dog Head finish their work and leave, deciding not to confront Brother Grome there and then. More investigation is needed.
Meanwhile, at The Rattlesnake…
Dodge sits, half slumped over her table, and spies Miss Vine arrive. Strange to see her here. She carefully picks her way across the room, stepping over the drunks, the bottles, and the occasional pool of vomit, and arrives at Dodge’s table. She says she’s come for Zagan’s coffee and then, unusually for her, hesitates briefly and says “you can be discrete, right?”
Turns out that Burns, one of the old guys living in the shacks near the dorms, needs a job doing. There’s a package at a drop site in the middle of nowhere which he needs fetching. Dodge reads between the lines to see that it’s probably not a set-up: Miss Vine trusts her to get the job done and not talk about it. They negotiate pay, and then Dodge goes to see Burns.
Burns, an old balding guy with a large white moustache, explains carefully where the package is. He says normally his grandson would go, but the grandson died in the last raid. He pays up front, and Dodge sets off. She picks up Ruby on her way out.
The site is an old highway, the surrounding ground dotted with small craters, and the road itself crowded with abandoned vehicles. It’s quiet. Burns explained exactly which car the package was in, so they find it easily. The package is a small, impressively locked, wooden box. The box itself has a lock, and is wrapped in multiple padlocked chains. Ruby shakes it, but it’s so full (or so empty) that nothing rattles, and she can’t tell anything about the contents.
Just then, three bikers show up.
Dodge and Ruby scurry back to the jeep and set off. The bikers come in pursuit.
Ruby leans out of the jeep window aiming the grenade launcher, but the biker in front is faster: he gets a shot off, she drops the grenade launcher, and falls out of the jeep, rolling along the road. Dodge slams on the brakes, the biker is too close and gets taken out. A second biker stops next to the grenade launcher and reaches for it, but Ruby gets him to back off. She picks it up, and gets hit in the back by the third biker, wielding a metal pole. Dodge drives into the group: the bikers jump out of the way, and Ruby climbs in. They escape.
Back in Apotheosis, Dodge delivers the box without asking what’s inside.
The mutant siren goes off: there’s a raid.
Grigsby is woken up by the noise, and sees his bedroom door open. There’s a figure silhouetted there. He asks “Leah, is that you?”, but there’s no response.
Leah, also woken up by the siren, groggily stumbles out of her room and into Grigsby’s. She brushes past the unknown figure before realising that there’s someone there, and stops dead. As she replays the last minute in her head, she thinks how hard and metallic the arm she touched was…
Oi wakes up, but not because of the siren; she can sleep through worse noise than that. Oi wakes up because she senses a wolf. But, when she concentrates, she realises it’s not quite a wolf. It’s inside the radio shack, and she scurries down from her hiding place to investigate.
Leah puts the light on. The figure is a tall woman, her face covered in piercings, and a mohawk.
Grigsby starts to tell Leah off for bringing her friends to the shack without permission, before the woman interrupts: “so you really don’t remember me, after you abandoned me to save yourself!”
Grigsby wakes up fully, and remembers. Before Apotheosis, she was in their group: him, Zagan, Innkeeper, and a few others. She got romantically involved with a mutant, which Zagan took as a threat to his authority; even then he was using the “mutants are monsters” story to scare people into line. It culminated in a fight: Grigsby had his throat torn out, and Innkeeper was left got dead. But now she’s back.
Innkeeper raises her pistol, and shoots Grigsby. Leah tries to intervene, but is too slow. Grigsby reels in pain, Leah shoots Innkeeper in the head with her shotgun, and Innkeeper… isn’t too fazed. Her face gets scratched, like painted metal someone’s taken a key to, and one of her eyes was blown out, revealing a glowing red machine eye beneath.
Grigsby tazes her, but she shrugs it off.
Oi drops from a ventilation shaft in the ceiling onto Innkeeper’s head, and manages to ask “what are you?” before Innkeeper flings her to the floor.
Noticing sparking inside the eye socket, Leah decides to try short-circuiting Innkeeper. She grabs Grigsby’s chamberpot, flinging it in Innkeeper’s face. Innkeeper collapses to the floor, unmoving.
Oi dives on her and starts trying to pry her face off with a knife. After a few moments, it pops off. A metal face which looks human, but a robot beneath.
Nobody is really sure what’s going on, but Grigsby suggests that maybe Leah could get Innkeeper working again. “Great, another secret.”
Roark busts into Zagan’s office / bedroom, bringing the news that 15 mutants are attacking. They’re almost inside the walls. Zagan says to call the men, and goes to his tank.
Several minutes later, Zagan arrives at the walls in his tank, the men arriving too. They already outnumber the mutants, who are climbing over the fence. The fight breaks out. Most mutants are killed in the initial exchange of bullets and shells, some making it inside Apotheosis and scattering. Soon they’re all dead, or have fled.
Zagan sends some men to follow the fleeing mutants back to their camp. One comes back after an hour and says that there’s a new camp on the far side of a nearby hill.
Apotheosis forces set out. The strategy is to surround the enemy: send the foot-soldiers out behind the mutant camp, and have the vehicles attack from the front. Most of the mutants will run from the firepower, and into the waiting ambush.
Battle vehicles crest the hill, and start blasting the camp. Some of the mutants fight back, and die. Most run, into the waiting men, and die. It’s a massacre. The men laugh as they kill.
After examining the camp for supplies, it’s set on fire. The men hang around warming themselves with the flames, talking and joking, until it’s just ash.
The next day…
Grigsby approaches Zagan suggesting a peace deal with Malice. Zagan’s open to the idea, and Grigsby quickly gets the leader of Malice on the line.
It’s a voice Zagan recognises. The voice of the man who visited Apotheosis asking to come in to preach about chaos. The man who Oi sensed to be a wolf. Ezra.
Zagan starts by mocking Ezra about blowing up their armoury: “how do you like chaos now?” But he’s is incredibly infazed, and just says that they can rebuild when they need to.
A deal is hammered out. Zagan wants a superior position, but doesn’t really get it. Ezra wants an open borders agreement, but doesn’t really get it. They settle on a ceasefire—no raids—and access for trade caravans.
Session 4, 2020-04-25
Last session, Leah discovered something was up at Mistfield Farm. Brother Grome is perhaps not the kindly man of faith he tries to appear… While that was going on, Dodge went on a secret mission to fetch an impressively locked box for Burns, although it was Miss Vine who set up the meeting. I wonder how they’re connected. In the night mutants attacked Apotheosis, and in the confusion Innkeeper got to Grigsby. The gang managed to disable her, revealing that she’s some sort of machine, and now the body is lying on a slab in the workshop.
But first, the news:
One of our trustworthy informants, Dune, brings stories from the wastes. While harvesting medicinal plants known only to the wastefolk, his path crossed that of a gatherer by name of Mox. According to Dune, she had been travelling the wastes for weeks accumulating a selection of potent herbage for experimentation back at her home on this side of the river.
Now, I lost my taste for tonics when I lost my face for… well, nonetheless I’m sure this will be exciting news to those of you with a love of… medicines.
This next story comes from Bones, a shy-natured wretch of a man who turns out to share dewllings with a certain “Mox”, who you’ll recall as the gatherer from our previous bit of news some 5 or so seconds ago.
The world, though endless in time and space, is—on occasion—excruciatingly small. Can you say claus-terra-phobic? I can. But enough about me, let’s talk to you.
Bones told a passerby who told Buddy who is a friend of the show and who told me that he’s “making the first good map since everything went to shit”. Let’s hope he has enough ink.
In fact, if anyone out there has scraps of ink, or knowledge of forgotten places worth including in Bones’ map, please send them in to us here at the Bunker, and I’ll make sure Bones gets them. If you happen to include any electrical parts, that would be just dandy. I hear capacitors in particular are very important to map-making—especially those above 100 mF, the genu-ine “good stuff”… as they say in map-making circles.
Finally, I’m afraid we have some sad news. Tonight, the show ends early.
Last night, an old friend paid me a surprise visit, and so I must say good night and play the gracious host you all know me to be.
Ghosts from the past drift in from time to time, calling us by names long forgotten to the minds we’ve come to call home. Who are we to shut them out?
Of course, you are all ghostly visitors here—visitors to my show—and as your host I’ve prepared a special tape (of my own composition) to drown out the screeching winds of the maelstrom, the starving howls of wolves, and the hopeful cries of broken children. I hope it grant you a moment’s sleep. This first melody goes out to all our soldiers returning from another successful excursion in the wastes: it’s called “the screams in your dreams”.
Welcome home, and good night.
disturbingly discordant psycho electronica begins to play, but is cut short after half a minute
…I apologise for cutting short your lullaby tonight, listeners, but I must I’ve just been handed a literal last minute scrap of news.
It’s a note from Sister Mary that was included in this evening’s shipment from Mistfield Farms. “This place… is a lie.”
A warning from a place that’s a lie? A lie, then, revealing the irrevokable truth of Mistfield.
Ah, the intricacies of theology continue to open up our craniums like the petals of a spring flower to the wisdom of Saints. Preach, Sister. Preach.
Leah bandages up Grigsby, and removes Oi from Innkeeper’s body. Oi resists, unsuccessfully. She carries Innkeeper to the radio shack workshop: a black and grey room; floor to ceiling tubes, wires, and cables; electrical supplies and radio equipment scattered everywhere. Leah wipes all the junk off one table, ignoring Grigsby’s protests, and sets Innkeeper down. She starts examining the body.
“She’s still a person,” Grigsby protests.
“This person just tried to kill you.”
While their arguing, Oi cuts the rest of Innkeeper’s face off: it’s skin, and bleeds. Beneath is the robot.
Leah gets in the zone to examine Innkeeper. She sets up a bunch of signal generators and gets them all producing the same sine wave. She closes her eyes, concentrates, and opens her mind to the maelstrom. She…
…sees: two men, wearing yellow robes with a star-in-circle symbol, looking at Innkeeper who is strapped to a surgical chair. Through the window is the wastes. “A failure!” “Throw her out to die.”
…feels: Innkeeper has been in pain since those men did whatever it is they did.
…knows: how to repair Innkeeper, and that Oi is somehow related to Innkeeper being a failure.
Leah decides it’s time to question Oi about the wolves. She opens her eyes, says “I know how to fix her”, and sends Grigsby to make some tea. She begins to question Oi.
Through the interrogation, Oi reveals that the wolves are everywhere. The symbol Leah saw is the symbol of the wolves. Once before the wolves found Oi and her brother, said that they were “something special”, and lowered their disguises. In terror, she managed to flee through the maelstrom, but she doesn’t know what became of her brother.
Oi reminds Leah that she felt a wolf in Malice: the old man they saw walking through the rain.22In an OOC discussion we realised that Grigsby is the only character who could have put the whole picture together (the wolf is the leader of Malice), as he was with Oi when she realised that the man was a wolf, and with Zagan he recognised the leader as the old man who had come to the gates of Apotheosis previously. We decided Grigsby would overhear the end of the conversation, and share his revelation with Leah and Oi.
After the news broadcast…
Leah is telling Grigsby about her experience on Mistfield Farm, and something seemed wrong. Grigsby, sensing a story, decided to try to divine what was going on by opening his mind to the maelstrom.
For Grigsby, the maelstrom is like an infinite number of overlapping radio broadcasts. Words, words, words. No other senses, just the words. He repeated “this place is a lie” in his head as a mantra, and felt himself drawn to Mistfield. He felt that Sister Mary was afraid, and that somewhere near her was intense anger.
Dodge pulls up to her clinic / drug lab. It’s a bunker with a buried entrance, and there’s other ruins scattered around. Someone coming through the immediate area would see the car and be curious, but someone seeing it from a distance would think it’s just another relic of the past. She waves at Mox and Bones.
Mox is mushing up some plants with a mortar and pestle, says it’lol probably kill even Dodge, but he offers her a different bowl containing an almost identical-looking plant mush, saying that’s the good stuff.
Bones is working on his map. Suddenly, a radio starts broadcasting Grigsby’s voice: describing all the new places that listeners have sent in. Bones didn’t ask Grigsby for help, and doesn’t like him much. Grigsby also didn’t ask, he just assumed his help would be welcome. After a while, Bones switches the radio off mid-sentence.
Zagan isn’t happy. Word’s got out that someone snuck in to Apotheosis and attacked Grigsby last night, and people are getting riled up. They’re keeping indoors, peering out their doors and windows, and people outdoors travel in groups, weapons on display.
The lock to the radio shack has been smashed off. He picks it up, pockets it, and knocks.
Grigsby appears, acting unconvincingly casual as he holds the bandage over his chest, and comes up with some lame excuse for the injury—he got stabbed by a metal rod in a piece of radio equipment or something like that.
Zagan pushes his way inside, and looks around.
He goes into the workshop and whisks aside a curtain, revealing Innkeeper.
Grigsby tries to explain… ultimately giving up and saying “Leah knows more.”
Zagan shows up at the hangar to talk to Leah. The door is locked, but he shoots the lock off, and steps inside.
Leah is working on the plane she’s been keeping secret.
“Gustav, I can explain…” she begins, before being cut off.
“I need your help to deal with the robots.”
He ignores the plane, and asks what she knows. Leah repeats what Oi told her, and says that the wolves could be coming for Oi. She also shares Grigsby’s realisation that the leader of Malice is a wolf. Zagan takes all this strange stuff in his stride, and asks what she would advise. Leah suggests throwing a party to celebrate the trade deal, getting the leader drunk or drugged, and examining him.
Zagan then looks around until he finds Dodge, and asks her to use her drug lab33Zagan knows Dodge has a drug lab, but not where it is.
to make something to knock out a robot, and to ask Leah if she needs help. Dodge gets Mox involved, who says he’ll do his best, but he can’t really judge how effective it’ll be without a patient to test it on beforehand.
Grigsby reaches out through his trading contacts, and buys a powerful signal generator from an electronics merchant in Malice. A powerfuls ignal generator and a faraday cage are the two components Leah needs to bring Innkeeper back.
The gang gather in Zagan’s office, to say that something doesn’t seem right with Mistfield Farm and they should look into it. Zagan agrees, thinking that, if there is something wrong, solving it would make Mistfield even more indebted to Apotheosis.
They decide to head down.
Brother Grome is slightly taken aback by so many people arriving at once, and Zagan immediately takes over the scene: striding confidently ahead and looking around, asking questions about the farm and the people, forcing Brother Grome to almost jog to keep up.
Oi slips off, and goes to the furthest shed out from the main settlement. It’s locked, but she smashes it open with a rock.
Inside is a woman, beaten and bloody, on the floor in chains. She weakly looks up. It’s Sister Mary.
Just as Oi frees Sister Mary and starts to think about an escape route, a hand clamps down on her shoulder: “what are you doing here?”
It’s one of the other Brothers. He locks her up in a different shed, after confiscating her waterproofs.
Session 5, 2020-05-09
Last session, we got some good plot development about the wolves! Leah learned that Innkeeper was turned into what she was by the wolves, though they considered her a failure only good enough to die in pain. They have a base somewhere out in the wastes where they carry out their nefarious purposes. Not only that, the wolves tried to take Oi when she was younger, they said she had “something special”—Oi escaped, but her brother did not. And Grigsby put two-and-two together, and realised that Ezra, the leader of Malice, is a wolf. We got to see Dodge’s hidden drug lab, which has been enlisted by Zagan to make something strong enough to knock out a robot, so you can investigate Ezra. And finally you all went to Mistfield Farm to investigate a note Sister Mary slipped in the last food shipment, saying “this place is a lie”. Oi found Sister Mary, tied up in a shed, but was captured herself while freeing the Sister. We ended the session with Oi just having escaped her bonds, but her raincoat has been taken away.
Continuing at Mistfield Farm…
Leah slips away from the tour, and finds Oi and Sister Mary. Luckily, Leah has some spare waterproofs with her.
Back with the tour…
Zagan and Brother Grome are talking about the farming techniques—though really it’s more Zagan just directing a constant stream of questions—when grek, BGrother Grome’s assistant shows up. Grek says that “some wild dogs” got into one of the storehouses, but they’ve been dealt with. Brother Grome says he’ll have a look at the damage later.
Grigsby is keeping a close eye on the farmers, looking for anything suspicious. He’s walking around, trying different viewpoints, focussing on different things; and it pays off. As one man raises his hand to wipe the sweat from his brow, his sleeve slips back, revealing a slave tattoo on his wrist. Grigsby then spots it on a few other people. Everyone here is a slave!
Overcome with a righteous zeal, Grigsby leaps atop a soap box, and proclaims that everyone is free! They are slaves no longer!
Everyone turns to look at him. Brother Grome begins to splutter. “These people are here to seek salvation,” he says, “it is right that they work.”
Zagan takes out a gun, holds it to Brother Grome’s head, and says Apotheosis doesn’t deal with slavers.
Brother Grome loses all his cool. “These people are filthy sinners! This is the only way to seek redemption!” His face shows a mixture of rage and confusion, how could you all not see?
Leah then shows up with Sister Mary and Oi. Sister Mary all beaten and bloody, and Oi clutching some waterproofs which are clearly not the ones she arrived in.
Sister Mary is nervous but, with Leah’s encouragement, manages to confront Brother Grome. “This is no salvation,” she spits.
Zagan decides he’s had enough, and shoots Brother Grome in the head.
Feeling very proud of himself, Grigsby is suddenly brought back to reality when many of the farmers start gathering their things as if to head off—“we need this food!” Zagan says—so Grigsby hops back on his soapbox and just about manages to persuade some to stay, but most do not.
In the Apotheosis hangar…
Leah and Dodge are ready to take the plane out. Leah gets in cockpit to taxi it out, and Dodge slides open the hangar door.
Zagan is waiting for them, with some of his men. He says that this plane belongs to him. Sure, Leah put it together, but where did she get most of the pieces from? Apotheosis supplies.
Leah doesn’t back down. She starts to taxi the plane out onto the runway. Dodge clambers aboard taking the rear seat as it passes. Zagan and his men jump aside, rather than be run down. Leah is serious about taking this plane out.
And… up it goes! Towards the clouds, into them, and then through; into a sky so bright and blue. Leah pops open the hatch, and she and Dodge swap seats above the clouds. Dodge gives the controls a few wiggles, and immediately starts doing barrel rolls and loops.
“Guess we need to give it a name” “Archimedes”
Eventually though, it’s time to return to base. Down, down through the clouds, into a world which seems so grey now.
Zagan is waiting.
“Do you know how much airplane fuel costs? I’ll give you a hint: they don’t make it.”
he makes it clear that there will be no more flights without his say-so.
A few evenings later…
The Malice delegation shows up for the planned celebration. Ezra, some of his troops, and a large number of traders. Zagan welcomes them with open arms, though he and Ezra both know that the party is just for the people… the real point of this meeting is business dealings.
Oi is apprehensive, and keeps an eye on Ezra from a distance.
Ezra and Zagan are closeted in his office alone most of the time, and Zagan manages to slip him the poison—knocking Ezra out—without anyone from Malice being any the wiser. Zagan carries him to Leah at the radio shack, but Grigsby turns him away: he doesn’t want Ezra near Innkeeper. Zagan and Leah move to the hangar, and put Ezra down on a workbench for Leah to have a look.
Leah sets up her equipment, eases herself into a trance, and focusses her attention on Ezra. As soon as she does, it all goes wrong.
Ezra snaps back to consciousness, examining Leah through the maelstrom. She feels like an insect underneath a magnifying glass, Ezra’s mind piercing all of her defences. He sits up, Leah falls back to the floor. Zagan tries to grab Ezra, but he effortlessly resists, and with one hand pins Zagan in a vice-like grip. With the other hand he takes Zagan’s gun.
Leah shakily gets out her gun, and tries to threaten Ezra. He just says that he’d rather not start shooting now, the noise would draw people and he doesn’t want to have to kill everyone here himself, he’d much rather the people of Apotheosis destroy themselves.
Leah asks why he’s doing this. “This game has lasted too long, we’ve grown bored of it.”
Oi now drops on Ezra’s head from the ceiling. He drops his gun, still holding onto Zagan, to reach up and fling her off. Leah takes the opportunity to shoot.
Ezra staggers back, losing his grip on Zagan, though he doesn’t look too hurt. Freed of Oi, he starts to recover, but Zagan managed to use the moment of distraction to grab a car battery charger, and now clips it to Ezra’s armpits. He screams, the electricity courses through his body, burning his flesh, which starts smoking and peeling, revealing the hot metal beneath.
Roark bursts in, with some of his men, and tries to take stock of the situation. he asks what’s going on. Zagan doesn’t explain, he just says to go watch the party, things are probably going to get messy soon.
Leah cautiously examines Ezra, confirming that he’s dead—or whatever happens to robots—and enters her trance again. She learns:
Ezra was made in the same clinic as Innkeeper, but before the apocalypse. The men operating on him bore the same symbol, and were talking about “the war” and about “ending it soon”.
Ezra is working for some other person, and communicates with them through the maelstrom. A few weeks ago, in his office in Malice, Ezra gave a report of the subjugation of the local area to this person: “Malice has fallen”, “the infiltration of Apotheosis is going well”, “this is one of the last remaining large settlements in this area, the rest have fallen”.
Ezra isn’t malicious, he felt no enjoyment at reporting the woes of the surrounding area, just the satisfaction of someone who knows they have done a job which needs to be done. Whoever he was speaking to, however, felt immense boredom.
Worried that this may have immediate consequences, Oi reaches out into the maelstrom to sense for any wolves. There are none nearby, Ezra came alone. She does realise, however, that one of Ezra’s troops—a mean-looking, big, tall, bald brute with a shotgun strapped to his side—would be trouble. She hops into the airplane, guns pointed at the hangar door, to hide.
Ruby was enjoying herself at the party, but now the atmosphere is tense. There have been gunshots, a scream, and people are starting to realise it’s been a while sinze Ezra or Zagan were last seen. It’s no longer a matter of if this kicks off, it’s a matter of when.
She looks around and spots two Malice troops—weapons in hand—alone, at the edge of the party peering towards the source of the noise earlier; and she promptly shoots them both with her pistol (a big thing called “Onyx Rose”).
There’s a moment of stunned silence.
Then Malice troops move to surround her, people start screaming and running, and Apotheosis troops start to fight their way through the crowd.
Ruby stares down the biggest and meanest looking guy: tall, bald, with a shotgun strapped to his side. He meets her gaze and challenges her to single combat.
The fight is short, it’s just like that when everyone has guns and little cover.
It ends with Ruby diving for cover as she shoots the guy: him taking two bullets to the throat, and her taking a shotgun blast to the chest. He collapses to the floor, blood and spit foaming out his mouth. Apotheosis troops show up, quickly subdue the other Malice troops, and Roark stabilises Ruby’s condition.
Grigsby sat thinking about Malice. It used to be a bunch of disconnected gangs, but Ezra unified them, and seemingly did a good job at it. But now he’s gone, so things will be changing again.
Would they, perhaps, accept Innkeeper as their leader? He opeend his mind to the maelstrom, turning his focus towards Malice and felt… corruption. Ezra unified them all right, but at what cost? Grigsby intuitively knew that they would accept Innkeeper as their leader, but only because she was somewhat similar to Ezra. Even with a perfect leader, it is only a matter of time before the seeds Ezra has sown will drive the people of Malice to destruction.
Grigsby’s thoughts turned to his companions. How did he feel about the return of Innkeeper? And how did he feel about Zagan, the man who had tried to kill her? He had suppressed all memory of Innkeeper out of trauma, but those mental walls have been torn down.
Forgetting Innkeeper suppressed some of his personality, it made him meeker. Now that she’s back he’s remembering what it means to fight for someone again. The scene at Mistfield would never have played out with the old Grigsby.
Zagan is a problem. He is capable of great evil, but Grigsby just can’t treat him as a lost cause. He’s trying to guide Zagan to do moral things, rather than just being the passive and obedient servant he has been so far; though Grigsby doesn’t want to challenge Zagan directly.
Session 6, 2020-05-23
Last session you liberated Mistfield Farm from the control of Brother Grome, after discovering that he was keeping people there as slaves. To his dying breath, he insisted that this was necessary for their salvation. Most of the farmers packed their bags and left, but a few stayed behind. Also, Leah and Dodge took out the plane, and got to see the blue sky above the clouds. And finally, you managed to take out Ezra, learning that he was made before the apocalypse, and by the same group that worked on Innkeeper. It seems some group has been working for a long time towards the downfall of civilisation. With Ezra gone, it’s not clear what will happen to Malice in the near future, but their eventual downfall due to his corruption seems certain.
- Leah and Grigsby in the radio shack workshop working on the isolation chamber:
- Huge metal cage, one seat in the middle with wrist and leg straps, hooked up to big signal generator (size of a fridge, lots of smaller generators fused together, exposed circuitry)
- Grigsby being uncharacteristically quiet, just sitting down and watching
- Straps Innkeeper in
- Leah hears a quiet and distant sound, but she recognises it immediately: the hangar door opening
- Grigsby didn’t hear it
- Leah runs out to the hangar, Grigsby following protesting, see Bones taking the plane out
- Leah doesn’t want to damage the plane, so she just watches it take off
- Sends Grigsby to find Dodge so they can pursue
- Oi is afraid of a device which can cut people off from the maelstrom, so she takes a component from the big signal generator and hides it in her den
- Ruby going to the clinic, Zagan paid for her treatment:
- Run by Shan, a big scarred guy. He has a dog, an alsatian.
- It’s a tiny room, one bed, medical equipment, he just stops people from dying and then sends them on their way to heal the rest themselves.
- Shan shoes the dog out, tells her to get on the bed and he’ll have a look.
- Peels off the bloody clothes, has a look
- Offers her some whiskey “this will sting”
- Cleans the wounds with a grey-looking cloth, picks out the bullets, stitches together the larger holes
- Takes a step back to admire his handywork, cleaning his hands on a cloth that looks rather like the one he used to clean her wounds
- “Let the dog back in on your way out”
- Dodge with Innkeeper talking about her idea:
- To run a bookies out of the bar: Dinnerlady takes the bets, Dodge wins the races. People currently gamble, but a less-below-board person handling the money will make people feel safer and so get involved more.
- It’s an idea she’s talked about before, but this is the first time she’s had a serious discussion with him about making it a reality.
- The bar is quiet at this time of day, they’re in a booth talking.
- Dinnerlady is skeptical, it sounds like he’s getting all the work and risk—Dodge would be racing anyway—and only half the money.
- He asks for 80%. Dodge says no. Escalates into an argument.
- Dinnerlady throws Dodge out, bans her from the bar, steals her idea.
- Ruby goes to the bar:
- Innkeeper looks mad, Ruby asks why, he explains the situation
- Offers her a job for this gambling thing: 10%, she just has to be there (which she would be anyway) and stop any trouble that starts
- “Drinks included?” “Two”
- Dodge collides with Grigsby
- Grigsby explains the situation “something about a stolen plane”, points at it in the distance
- Get car, get Leah, keep Grigsby, go in pursuit
- Catch up after a few hours: plane is going slowly, meandering, eventually lands
- Bones gets out, totally unconcerned, holding papers, “oh, I didn’t expect to see anyone”
- Leah slaps him, asks what he’s doing, he drops the papers in the wet mud, “what did you do that for?” starts gathering them and brushing the mud off.
- “It’s really hard to make notes while flying one of those, now that you’re here, would you mind helping me organise these notes?”
- He had to come out to verify some parts of the map for himself, Grigsby is sad that his information wasn’t good enough, Bones tries to reassure him by saying it was very good, but not quite up to the standards of cartography
- “You’re never using this plane again!” “I know, it’s out of fuel, that’s why I landed.”
- “How did you plan to get back?” there’s camping supplies for a few days in the back seat; he’d have been killed by wild animals or raiders, but he didn’t think of that
- “What would you do if Zagan gets mad with you?” “Oh, well, he doesn’t know where the lab is, so I’d just hide out for a few days”
- Decide to tow plane back, Leah attaches plane to car
- Grigsby gives Leah a chocolate bar, Leah gives Grigsby her pistol (temporarily)
- Drive starts, slowly
- Grigsby concentrating on the gun, opens his mind, sees Archimedes (Leah’s grandfather) with a young Leah on his knee, explaining how you can use the echo of a gunshot to judge a distance, he’s kindly and loving, and sad that his granddaughter will grow up in a world where having those traits means people will most likely take advantage of you.
- Sun setting, raiders arrive. Three on motorbikes, two with guns out.
- Leah trying to get a look, one of the raiders spots her and heads towards the plane, rest continue to the car.
- Each shoot at the other, miss
- Overtaking, get level, each shoot; 1-harm Leah 2-harm raider thrown off his bike
- Other two see, go to their fallen boss
- Drive on to Apotheosis.
- Zagan at the factory, looking for signs of Malice infiltration
- Zagan asks Mouse, the foreman, if anything is unusual
- “Strange how?”
- There have been more fights lately. They stop the fights pretty quickly, so people don’t usually start them, but lately people have seemed to get more violent more quickly
- Doing the rounds, Zagan sees a guy all over the place, talking to people a lot, looks suspicious
- Zagan drags him out, ignoring his protests, to the acid river
- Asks how many of them there are
- “The factory has lots of errand boys!”
- Zagan dunks him in the acid water and holds him under until his face starts to melt
- His eyelids and lips gone, eyes almost melted, screams in pain as he tries to look at Zagan
- “Tell me and I’ll shoot you. If you don’t I’ll put you back in, and it takes longer to die than you’d expect.”
- There are four of them: Corbet, Kettle, and Isle, told to come in and make trouble
- Zagan pushes him into the water
- Gathers the rest
- Pushes them in too
- A tearful Oi approaches Zagan as he finishes:
- Says she thinks Leah and Grigsby are dead—she didn’t mean to kill them—she took something from their machine and they haven’t been around for hours
- Zagan reassures her, they look around, see Dodge is gone and so’s the car, Zagan says they probably needed to go out for something
- Oi opens her brain, sees them south and approaching again
I decided to cut the campaign short because I started running a game of Call of Cthulhu with a separate group, and realised just how much less fun I was finding Apocalypse World.