Tuan Fen - Fighter 2, overweight and ugly
+Fluffy, his armored wardog
Vlad - Rogue 2, dubiously "improved" by the Temple of Science
Sloth - Prophet (Cleric) 1, of Daog, God of Pits, dyslexic and with a bad back
The party awakes with Sean convalescing in one of the tents. Ricin Dexter and his armsmen have disposed of the peryton corpses.
There's a quick discussion of how the rules are going so far. I'll be posting my house rules pretty soon, but the main one is that I decided that 3d6 take highest for Level 1 hit points isn't my favorite - either it should be a simple hardcore 1d6, like every other level, or the modern "max HP at level 1" - and we decide to do the latter. I made it retroactive for the two Level 1 characters, so Sloth digs a pit and is strengthened by worship of his god. He still has a bad back though.
(My feeling on this is that characters should really start dying at Level 2 or 3, so they have a chance to build an emotional connection first)
The party waits four days in the wild to let Vlad train up to second level, and for Fluffy to recover from his previous injury. They reenter the gatehouse and bring Ricin to inspect the rest of the papers - "Very Scientific! Worth 150 GP. As per the previous agreement, that'll be 75 GP for you guys." As soon as he's out of earshot, however: "Didn't we get a better deal than that?" Nope, no you did not.
They inspect the north door. Vlad and Tuan Fen press their ears against it and hear nothing inside - but they do hear a screeching of metal on wall echoing through the dungeon. Door opens - it's a room with protonium shelving and eleven violently severed automaton heads. Since Tuan Fen is already fat and slow (move 7!) the other characters decide they have nothing to lose by getting down to the first weight bracket and take on all of them. First they show one to Ricin, and he extends his hand and says "The Temple would value that at 40 GP, so 20GP for the three of you." Sloth says, "Oh, in that case we'll just hold on to it." Ricin: "What do you mean? You're contractually obliged to turn it over to me." "Uhhh... I mean we'll take it back into the gatehouse and see if it can be used for anything." Ricin nods and makes a note of it in his Moleskine.
The party decides to see what the pristine automatons can do with them. Tuan Fen also advocates murdering Ricin, and if the Temple doesn't like it, well they can just never go back to Denethix. Vlad and Sloth are less keen on pissing off the Temple, but agree that Ricin's not going to get that one automaton head, and they'll say they dropped it in combat or something.
When they come upon the automatons' barracks, they find the eight of them seated in a circle, each conducting minor repairs on the next one's back. Vlad produces the first automaton head: "Alas! Poor #FFF263! I knew him well. But at least he has a few useful disks inside." One of the shabbier automatons begins disassembling #FFF263's head and incorporating it into its own body.
The party discusses events with the automatons, discovering that the head room was the original lair of the hated Abomination, and was an unholy place (explaining why they hadn't been cannibalized already). The automatons again request that the party tackles the highest priority janitorial duty - cleaning the "very dangerous" bathroom. Tuan Fen demurs, saying they need the proper gear. This agitates the automatons, who complain that it has been a janitorial priority for hundreds of years, and asks that Tuan Fen inform his manager that they have exceeded the allotted workflow time by 700,000%. Tuan Fen says that management is out of touch, but maybe if they got an escort to catalog any other defects they could make a more accurate workflow. Four automatons decide to tag along.
Vlad opens the door they came in from, finding a gruesome jury-rigged automaton crouching at the door, listening to them. It screeches and flees, but the party chases it into the foyer and destroys it. One automaton drags it back to their HQ.
They move back up to the document room and open the slightly curved door to the east, unsurprisingly finding the emergency generator core. This is a long glass tube filled with green liquid, and the room itself is a 50' tall, 40' wide cylinder, with two ladders down and a bunch of tubes against the wall, some of which are broken. The party is standing in the top 10' of the cylinder, on a black metal catwalk grille. They send the three automatons down first, to scout, and then figure out a plan to lower Fluffy to the ground, as she can't climb ladders. They decide that they'll truss her up using their 30' of rope (the first 20' having been cut off to tie up Terry, I believe) and get the last 10' by tying that to their ten foot pole. Tuan Fen trusts only himself to do the lowering, but Sloth and Vlad begin climbing the ladders first.
Usually I keep a pretty good poker face going, but I seriously could not stop myself from breaking out into a wide grin as I described the football-shaped lumps of green matter loosing themselves from the broken pipes and revealing themselves to be bloodthirsty mutant stirges, attacking just as the two adventurers reached the halfway point.
Rolling randomly for targets, I found that Sloth had attracted the attention of two stirges, Vlad, three, and the last one flew up to try to get at Tuan Fen. Vlad injured one with a throwing knife, but then tried an Athletics roll to drop down to the last rung - failed! He only took a minor injury from the fall, however, Tuan Fen quickly killed his attacker and then began laboriously coming down. Vlad and Sloth, clambering to the ground one-handed while slashing at their attackers, eventually managed to kill a couple stirges and reach the ground where the automatons helped them out and killed the rest, but both had been pumped with a good dose of the stirges' radioactive bile. Vlad got the better deal - he was looking a little greener, but felt a tad stronger, while Sloth only lost a point of CON. Vlad peered around hopefully to see if maybe he could get bit again, taking him to 16 Strength and a +2 bonus. They only found six green gems in the stirge nest though.
While inspecting the lower section, the southern door flew open and the party was attacked by two new degenerate automatons - these ones nearly eight feet tall! But they and their allies made short work of them, and two pristine automatons left to drag their corpses back to the barracks.
Moving south, they found another strange room - 20' square but with a 40' ceiling, and a rusty cage hanging down from it. Exploring further, they found themselves at the first incursion's batte site, and decided to return up the stairway.
Marching confidently homewards, they ran right into a group of 6 lesser automatons in the foyer - but these were not immediately hostile. Unnerved, Sloth stepped forwards to negotiate. In a nutshell:
- The Jury-rigged claimed that they were forced to cannibalize human parts because the pristine automatons monoolized scarce resources to keep themselves in tip top shape, rather than sharing equally.
- The pristine one said they were bloodthirsty savages who killed all the humans.
- Neither side had any evidence to back up their claims, as the memories were overwritten by a software update.
- Tuan Fen and Sloth calmed the squabbling bots down and said they should work together to kill the Abomination - perhaps then there would be enough parts to go around.
- The party decided to make the foyer secure and sleep there, as neither side of automaton society trusted the other to leave their sight.