Knollmenera

Hexistential Crisis, Pt. 1

In which our heroes find themselves trapped in a civilization of machine intelligences and become enemies of the state.

Quick Notes

  • Waking to rainbows
  • Pitchers of terror
  • Sleeping sickness
  • Five bowls of cereal
  • Paging the doctor
  • Sleeping sickness spreads
  • Waking to blackness
  • I’ve got a theory
  • Distant light
  • Geometric ruins
  • Get your riot gear
  • 0011110011011101
  • Cop killa
  • Untimely cannon
  • Arrest and escape
  • Hex corruption
  • Terrorism count the first
  • Disintegrating cops
  • Jailbird reunion
  • Interrogation and negotiation
  • Cracking the code
  • GTA
  • Inhexstigation
  • Terrorism count the second
  • Scientific method
  • Negotiating with terrorists
  • Step into the light
  • Gruesome discovery
  • Posse
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Lair of the Monkey King

In which our heroes(?) return to a fateful place, encounter an old enemy, and retrieve an incredible treasure at a great cost (to others).

In the middle of the night, Nail is roused from his sleep by a noise, only to discover a phantasmal creature in his room. He calls for help as the creature takes shape: the shadowy beast they fought in the underwater ruins. The party fights the monster through the halls of the inn, eventually hurling it downstairs to crash through a table and dissolve into mist.

Through use of his esoteries, Xan discovers that the essence of the creature somehow attaches itself to a carafe of water, infusing itself into the glass. When he mentions this aloud, Zaphon promptly takes the carafe outside and smashes it to pieces. Aghast, Xan and Nail scoop up the pieces and find a blacksmith’s forge to throw them in.

In the morning, Nail and Xan awkwardly inform the blacksmith what happened, convincing him to sell them — at Zaphon’s expense — the coals of the furnace and everything he had made that day: a bucket of nails. After a tense conversation, the party squeezes the 50 shins to pay the blacksmith out of the innkeeper, Driscoll, and Zaphon.

The party learns of an opportunity to go on an expedition with the Red Fleet aboard the White Fin, a famous giant whale with a city on its back. Their destination: the underwater ruins that the party visited on behalf of Dracogen. During their interaction with the crew of the White Fin, the party is shocked to learn that Finn had a brief career in the Fleet. Why it ended, he doesn’t say.

After three days at sea, the party arrives above the ruins. The crew of the White Fin activates a gravity generator, pushing the waters aside all the way down to the ocean floor. The party rappels down through the cavernous gap — except for Finn, who swims expertly down the side of the shaft.

As the party descends, schools of armored dolphin creatures collect around the edges of the gap. Suddenly, they begin to leap from the walls of water and attack the dangling adventurers. Nail, Driscoll, and Jacob attempt to fight them off, while Xan and Zaphon rapidly descend to escape. With some effort, including some incredible acrobatic shooting from Jacob, the dolphin creatures are defeated. Unfortunately, one of their corpses plummets directly into Xan, bludgeoning him badly.

The party reaches the ruins without further event, only to find the door open. A quick search reveals several signs of life. Nail dumps the “cursed” items in a pile of excrement before the party returns to the site of their fight with the shadow beast, then continues their search through the structure.

The party navigates through a chamber with a giant fan to find a side room. As they explore it, a small, simian-looking man sneaks up on them with a large wrench in hand. Startled, the party pummels the creature, which takes much more effort than they expected.

Cautiously, they then proceed through a door into what appears to be a large meat locker. Nail learns — through a sudden information dump — that the pale creatures hanging from the hooks throughout the room are de-evolved humanoids that have reverted to a fungal form. The party then makes an even more grisly discovery on a single hook: a severed human arm.

Past the eerie room, the party finds what appears to be a well-tended vegetable garden. Above the garden, the ceiling is covered in vines, and the party spies movement. A melee breaks out as a throng of monkey men lunges from the foliage. After a few moments of brutal combat, Xan activates a cypher that prevents everyone in the room from fighting. A sudden, unexpected truce is formed, and the monkey men lead the party to their king.

In a makeshift throne room — decorated with, among other things, crude paintings of a great whale with a white fin — the party meets the monkey king: a man, covered in tribal finery, the stump of his missing arm covered in blades. Unfortunately for Zaphon, it is the man he condemned to an underwater grave, who immediately recognizes him and pounces, consumed by rage.

Thinking quickly, Driscoll creates an illusionary wall between the two combatants, buying enough time for the party to convince the monkey king that they can free him and lead his people to the surface. In their conversation, they also learn of what could be a numenera treasure, to which the king leads them.

A giant luminous crystal awaits them, connected directly to the ruins and surrounded by pens of the fungus creatures. The monkey men and their king lay on, slaughtering the creatures between them and the crystal. The party successfully decouples the crystal, and the monkey men begin to carry it out.

Immediately, the ruins begin to shake and pitch to one side. The party and their new accomplices hurry to the exit only to find it pointing straight down at the sandy ocean floor twenty feet (?) below. Carefully, the party makes their exit and looks for a means of escape.

They see the elevator descending from the White Fin, but too slowly: the gravity well begins breaking down, and water begins to fill the gap from the bottom. Xan uses a teleportation cypher to jump to the elevator, rigging it to descend dangerously rapidly.

With moments to spare, the elevator reaches the bottom, and the party jumps on as the monkey men load the crystal and climb aboard. The few sailors manning the elevator prepare to repel the simian invaders, and the monkey men respond aggressively as the elevator begins to ascend. The party’s only means of survival becomes a swarm of chaos.

In the melee, Zaphon eyes the monkey king, vowing to himself not to let the man reach the surface alive. The monkey king meets Zaphon’s gaze, detects his evil intent, and charges. The two battle next to the railing, threatening to fall into the abyss, when Zaphon (?) uses a deadly cypher, injecting the monkey king with explosive poison — which is set to activate when he intends to attack Zaphon. The monkey king’s head detonates, and his body plunges into the waters.

Meanwhile, Xan and Nail grapple with the controls of the elevator, pushing it hard to outpace the rapidly gaining waters, and the monkey men dispatch the remaining sailors, leaving themselves and the party careening toward the surface. Xan and Nail manage to slow the elevator to non-lethal speeds just in time, and they elevator arrives safely at the White Fin.

The awestruck monkey men catch sight of the great whale and bow in worship. The party offers them as laborers to the captain, many of whose men were killed in the ascent. After an uneventful return trip to Long Beach, the party offers the crystal to the local Aeon Priests, who gladly pay a hefty sum so they can use it as a power source for one of their most important devices.

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The Secret Ingredient, Pt. 2

In which our heroes return dramatically to Earth and attend a high-society soiree.

At the control core of the Errant Jungle, the party realizes the various dangers of attempting to land such a massive structure and decides instead to dismount the jungle as it approaches landfall. This point is further cemented when ARC accidentally triggers an interdimensional ripple that deposits Xan and Driscoll back on the beach miles below.

The party agrees to pay the mercenaries one scarfruit each to help them deliver their cargo and return safely to Long Beach.

The party plans to exit the jungle by waiting until it is low enough over the ocean that Finn can safely dive into the water with a rope, creating a zip line. All of the party members except Jacob successfully — if terrifyingly — disembark before Brin arrives with the cargo platform. Jacob and the mercenaries make the tricky leap to the platform, and the party returns to the beach safely.

Brin agrees to meet up with the party later for her payment, and the party and the mercenaries return to Dracogen with their massive haul of scarfruit. They receive a sizable payday and are all invited to the party the next day. They are also gifted custom-tailored party clothes.

At the party, Finn delights the guests by swimming in an anti-gravity water feature, while a robosexual duchess flirts shamelessly with ARC, Jacob successfully survives the most boring conversation in history, and Zaphon tries to set Dickie up with a tough chick.

Finally, it comes time for the banquet, at which Chef Lindo Varga’s scarfruit stew is to be presented to the secret guest of honor and — since so many scarfruit were available — the rest of the guests. The guest of honor turns out to be Queen Princess Brindelonia — that is, Brin, this time dressed in regal finery and displaying impeccable courtly manners.

After the scarfruit stew is served, Brin summons the party back to a chamber in Dracogen’s estate, where she reveals why she helped them: she needed the party to be a success in order for her to stay in Long Beach and audition adventurers. While she is 25th in line for the throne of Navarene, she is the queen of a small tribe in the Beyond, to whom she wants to return. Her vizier, ruling in her place, has sent her vague messages about strange happenings. Brin wants an escort back to her kingdom at an opportune time, at which time she says she will contact the party.

Alas, Xan and Driscoll are sick in bed during the party, and Nail is undergoing a rather unfruitful analysis by the local Aeon Priests.

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The Secret Ingredient, Pt. 1

In which our heroes journey into the heart of a floating cybernetic interdimensional jungle.

Harlow informs the party that Dracogen may have an urgent job for them. They find that Dracogen is hosting a secret noble guest for a banquet featuring dishes from renowned chef Lindo Varga. However, the dish around which the event is centered requires a rare ingredient: the scarfruit, which grows only in the dangerous and hard-to-access Errant Jungle.

The party purchases grappling hooks from their favorite local merchant. On the way back to the inn, they encounter Brin, who offers to help them for a small fee. As they debate her offer, Brin disappears.

The party journeys overnight to the site where the Errant Jungle touches land and begins to strategize. As they do, Brin arrives with a hovering cargo platform. Driscoll, ARC, Zaphon, and Xan choose to jump from the platform to the jungle, while Finn and Jake elect to jump on from the ground.

After ascending through the canopy, the party encounters a zero-gravity zone through which they must pass. Once they successfully get through it, gravity pulls them toward the forest floor, to which they climb down.

The party makes its way though the thick foliage of the jungle, searching for fruit. About an hour into their journey they spot — just in time — a drill snake stalking them high above. After a tense battle, Jacob kills the snake with an expertly placed arrow, and the party collects some of the snake’s metal scales.

The Nanos of the party search for cyphers in the strange landscape, finding carnivorous plants that sprout a monofilament blades and exploding compounds, among other things.

During their search, Finn spots a foxweasel watching them. He remembers Chef Varga’s comment that one of his scarfruit was unusable because it had been pecked by birds, and notices the foxweasel eating a small bird. He attracts the foxweasel with a bit of trail rations, then slips a cypher onto its head that allows him to read its thoughts. The little creature’s memories flash through Finn’s mind, including the location of a small flock of birds feeding on a patch of scarfruit.

The gathers a respectable pile of scarfruit, then immediately makes plans to search for more. Driscoll and Xan stay behind to guard the fruit they have found, while the rest of the party follows the foxweasel in hopes that it will hunt more of the birds that feed on the fruit.

Finn, Jacob, Zaphon, and ARC march through the jungle and, in time, finds another patch of scarfruit. They load up and head back to their companions, who, in the meantime, haven’t been so lucky.

Both Xan and Driscoll had been knowingly carrying too many cyphers. All three of Driscoll’s had suddenly failed. Soon after the party splits, Xan’s cyphers have a dramatic and dangerous interaction, pulling in different directions in multiple dimensions. He is violently sickened as a result, and Driscoll — who had become mildly suspicious of Xan’s behavior — notices that one of Xan’s implants reacts much differently than the others during the ordeal.

Shortly afterward, a band of mercenaries steps out of the jungle and happens upon them. The two nanos discover that Dracogen had sent them in two days prior on the same errand, but they have had no luck in finding the scarfruit. Driscoll attempts to craft an illusion to make the party’s stack of fruit look rotten, but succeeds only in making a second pile of pristine fruit appear.

Thankfully for Driscoll and Xan, the rest of the party returns in time to hear the mercenaries from a distance. They plan their approach, using a cypher to create a short-lived clone of Finn. They step out to aid their friends, and when Dickie, the mercenary team’s leader, sees how badly outnumbered he is, he immediately stands down.

In a show of goodwill, ARC hastens to heal Bando, the injured mercenary. Any animosity between the two groups rapidly dissolves, and they discuss how and when to get off of the jungle. The mercenaries note that it gets cold at night in the jungle, but they have survived thus far.

Since the group is stranded on the jungle for the night, the mercenaries offer to show the party something they have found. The group retraces the mercenaries’ steps, following a stream to the jungle’s core. Peering through the transparent core, they see just how high they have come: the jungle is in space.

Zaphon is captivated by the numenera device. After a quick investigation, he discovers its controls and realizes how to manipulate them. With his friends’ help, he attempts to maneuver the jungle, only to have it threaten to shake apart and plummet to Earth.

Will Zaphon kill the party, the foxweasels, and whoever the jungle lands on? Find out in The Secret Ingredient, Part 2!

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Welcome to Long Beach

In which our heroes explore an underwater base and does some low-level thug work.

Entered Long Beach, which has a super-long, weirdly regular beach

Researched how to get thousands of feet underwater to follow Zaphon’s treasure map

Zaphon met street tough Harlow, who pointed him to a “wealthy philanthropist” named Dracogen

Finn attempted to chat up the locals, but managed only to misuse some local slang and get sucker-punched

Driscoll and Nail consulted the local Aeon Priests, who — through some smooth talking by Driscoll — sent them with a glowing recommendation to Dracogen, whose numenera they were repairing

Using Dracogen’s numenera — harnesses that generated spheres of air — the party reached an underground structure: a giant metal disc, with a nautilus-shaped structure atop it

Entered the nautilus, found several numenera, and fought a large shadowy cat-serpent construct

Among the numenera was a long-range teleportation cypher, which Zaphon kept

Returned to Dracogen and dropped off the numenera, as promised, for him to examine overnight

Retrieved the numenera from Dracogen, who offered the party another job: to retrieve an item that had been stolen from him: a revitalization device

Was warned that someone else was looking for the thief: a tough lady and her goons

Located the thief’s apartment on the second floor in a shady part of town

Zaphon demanded that the thief open the door while Finn attempted to kick in the door, but managed only to do the splits

Nail kicked in the door when he heard the sound of a window opening, revealing the thief and his brother trying to escape

Driscoll created illusionary flames outside the window, prompting Nail to convince the thief that the party was there to get him out of the building

Simultaneously, Zaphon charged headlong into the thief’s brother, and they both tumbled out the window

Driscoll and Finn stayed behind to look for the stolen device, looting the apartment as they went

Zaphon struggled with the brother, then attached the teleporter to him and transported him to the underwater station

Almost out of the building, the thief realized he was in trouble, and Nail attempted to restrain him, but ended up pummeling him into submission

The thief gave up and gave the party the stolen device

Nail realized the thief’s brother was missing and was horrified when Zaphon tells him what he did

Returned the stolen device to Dracogen for 50 shins and the promise of more work

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