DM Screen 38 – Inescapable

Here it is, the end of the Phyrexia arc! Up until now during this arc, I was struggling with a very delicate balancing act, trying to make Phyrexia seem dangerous and nasty without completely steamrolling the players. With this episode, the kid gloves came off. I wanted to drive home just how incredibly deadly Phyrexia could be when its full attention and wrath was directed at a single group. This resulted in a huge and very tense fight that served as a huge climax for the arc and had some real, meaningful repercussions for the characters moving forward.

You’re all clinging to Godzilla’s head and the back of his neck as he dashes through the Vicious Tangle.  Along for the ride are Morgana, another League member who has joined you for this mission, and Michonne, the Soul Edge wielder who’s been living in hiding in Phyrexia and joined you in the hopes of escaping. Also of note: Mordin is still suffering from nausea, fever, and headaches as a result of absorbing an unhealthy amount of radiation last time—Mordin, until you’re able to receive treatment, you’re at -2 CS to all physical checks that you make.

The last session, the players had talked about stopping by and picking up the other League cell operating in Phyrexia before heading to the extraction point. Presuming that’s still their intent, Beatrix’s cell has holed up in an old apartment building in one of the sections of Phyrexia that haven’t been converted over yet, and thus don’t see much traffic from the Phyrexians. It’s a precarious and short-term solution for them as the Phyrexians will inevitably turn their attention to converting this area at some point, but, as Beatrix has expressed, there’s nowhere in Phyrexia that they could use as a safe house for more than a few weeks.

This section of Phyrexia obviously stands out from the rest, having not been converted into the twisted, organic-looking black metal that’s otherwise almost ubiquitous here. These buildings have the more familiarly eclectic look of stone, metal, and glass that shows they came from a city whose design wasn’t dictated entirely by an alien intelligence—if they weren’t so obviously abandoned and not kept up, you would almost feel at home.

As you approach the building, a dark shape emerges from the rooftop and wings in your direction. As it draws near, you see that it’s Toothless carrying Beatrix Kiddo, Samus Aran, and Lucca Ashtear on his back. Everyone wears an expression of incredulity. Beatrix and Samus try momentarily to put together a coherent statement before Lucca blurts out, “Why why why are you riding on Godzilla?!”

The women will listen to the League’s explanation (Samus will remark, “You couldn’t have chosen a more portable Praetor to cure?”), with Lucca being especially excited to hear that Mordin’s Phyrexian cure worked. Samus will immediately be able to identify the symptoms of Mordin’s extreme radiation poisoning. Once the League proposes their plan to escape the plane, Beatrix will suggest setting down on a nearby rooftop to discuss.

Once Mordin mentions using the DDC to get Godzilla to Eternia, Samus will look over at Lucca. “What do you think? We could maybe daisy chain our two DDCs together, disable the safeguards. That should exponentially increase the combined field size and let us bring everyone through, Godzilla included. Am I missing something?” Lucca pulls her DDC out of her bag as her eyes flick back and forth, doing some very intensive calculations in her head. “I think that should work, but we don’t have anything that would produce the level of power to pull that sort of thing off. Maybe if we hooked the chained DDCs directly into a Phyrexian reactor, but we’d also have to be at an extraction point at the same time, otherwise the DDCs would just overload. How can we hook up the DDCs to a reactor while at the same time having them at an extraction point?”

Let the characters come up with ideas for themselves, but one obvious possibility is for Mordin to use his portal gun. Half the group can head to the extraction point (the nearest one being the same one that the PCs dropped through on their initial arrival in Phyrexia), one of them carrying a large, flat hunk of stone torn from the roof with a portal on it; the other half can head for a Phyrexian power plant, get to the reactor, and make a portal right next to it, allowing them to link the DDCs and the reactor through the set of portals.

The rest of the notes for this episode act under the assumption that they’re going to go with the above strategy, but I was prepared to improvise if someone came up with a different idea.

Have the players divide the characters into two teams: one team of five to head to the reactor (which will be played by the players), while the rest head to the extraction point. Godzilla should definitely be part of the second group, as he won’t be able to slip through the portal and needs to be physically at the extraction point. It probably makes the most sense for each player to just play their usual PC, but if someone wants to tag in a different character instead, that’s entirely fine.

Either way, once the small strike team that’s to infiltrate the Phyrexian reactor is assembled, the characters in the other group briefly wish them luck before leaping onto Godzilla’s back and heading in the direction of the extraction point. The ones heading to the reactor can already see dark shapes taking to the sky and heading toward Godzilla—obviously the Phyrexians have heard about his change of heart and are intending to do something about it.

You race through this non-converted area of Phyrexia back in the direction of the black, oily metal of the rest of the plane. The whole while, the skies above are filling with Phyrexians and their vehicles as they soar in the direction of the former Green Praetor. Every now and then you can hear the distant sounds of Godzilla’s roar or can see a flash of blue-white light, and you know that he, and the other League members, are still fighting.

Thankfully, you don’t have to travel too far into the converted areas of Phyrexia before you find the power plant. It is a large but relatively squat building, maybe three stories tall in total but taking up several city blocks worth of space. It is made of the usual black metal covered by an opalescent oily sheen. There are a few windows set into it, and a blue light shines brightly from the windows near the back end of the building. Glowing blue pipes large enough to drive a car through run from three of the four sides of the building before diving underground.

You know that you need to get into this power plant and tap into the main reactor there. What do you do?

The characters can use any means at their disposal to infiltrate, up to and including kicking down the proverbial door and fighting their way in. They’ll have to make checks if they want to take a cleverer route, however—failure means that they’ll draw the attention of the below Phyrexian battle group posted as security near the reactor. If they succeed, they’ll get the drop on the battle group instead. Most of the other Phyrexians that the heroes might encounter in here are non-combatants; they will likely attempt to attack the heroes, but the League should be able to dispatch them with no real issues (a simple Fighting or similar check will suffice).

The interior of the power plant Is a terrifically noisy place, a maze of cold metal industrial hallways, storage rooms, and monitoring stations. The Phyrexians here don’t seem as though they were intended for combat—most of them are pale and willowy, more designed for operating an important contributor to the overall health of Phyrexia as a city than engaging directly in the invasion. It doesn’t take you long to determine where the reactor is, however, and before long you come up to a doorway standing open.

Looking inside, you see easily the largest single room in this entire facility. Toward the far end of the room is a machine centered around a set of giant pillars glowing with blinding blue-white light. The humming these things are giving off is enough to cause your eyes to water. Some of the monitoring Phyrexians meander about at the foot of these pillars, which you take to be the main reactor, and most of the Phyrexians are gathered around one large monitoring station in particular—from the looks of things, that would be the best place for you to interface with the reactor directly.

I originally had intended for the heroes to encounter the below battle group once they reached the reactor. However, during the actual session, they made the eternally great decision of splitting the party, with Stitch and Dante providing a distraction in the front while the rest snuck around to the back. I decided to split up the enemy group, with the infiltration team running into the Chancellor and Dante and Stitch dealing with the other enemies.

Chancellor of the Spires (this creature has a tarnished metal body in the shape of a large, predatory cat, with a dramatic mane of twisting metal spines framing its face. A pair of metal wings that look almost delicate protrude from its shoulders.)
F: In
A: Rm
S: In
E: In
R: Rm
I: Gd
P: Rm

Health: 150

Flight: Rm
Magical Imitation: Chancellor of the Spires may cast any spells it has seen an enemy cast

Darkslick Drake (2) (a creature that resembles a lizard or dragon with only a pair of hind legs. Its main body is the size of an SUV, with a tail at least three times as long. Its whole body is made of metal and is skeletal in shape, including a tail made entirely of vertebrae. The only pieces of flesh are grafted onto its back, where it stretches upward into hideous rotting wings.)
F: Gd
A: Ex
S: Ex
E: Ex
R: Fb
I: Pr
P: Pr

Health: 70

Flight: Gd

Impaler Shrike (4) (This bird-shaped creature barely looks like a living being. Its main body is all metal and its face ends in a cluster of long, sharp needles. Four leathery wings extend from its body in an X shape, and a single long lizard-like tail extends behind it.)
F: Ty
A: Ex
S: Pr
E: Ty
R: Fb
I: Ty
P: Pr

Health: 36

Flight: Gd
Impale: Ex damage to one target

With the way to the reactor monitor cleared, the heroes will need to first identify a safe spot to hook up a cable to redirect power into their DDCs, then actually perform the reconnection, both of which will require Reason (Technology) checks. Failure on these checks doesn’t mean that they can’t proceed, merely that they’ve made a miscalculation which will come back to bite them later.

Once they’ve gotten hooked up to the reactor, they can open a portal on a nearby wall to the other group. After looking or jumping through the portal, they’ll see that the other group has arrived at the extraction point, although it’s not obvious at first: their friends have obviously been fighting off increasing numbers of Phyrexians this whole time, and Godzilla hasn’t been playing nice with the surrounding neighborhood. At least half of the buildings in the surrounding blocks have been knocked over, set on fire, or otherwise severely compromised. Night has fallen, but the fires from burning buildings paint with flickering orange light the swarms and swarms of Phyrexians attacking in endless waves. The other League members have positioned themselves on various parts of Godzilla, riding on his head, shoulders, arms, and back, and Toothless makes regular passes out from the kaiju, letting loose blasts of plasma into the Phyrexian mass before circling back around.

Each of the heroes that went with Godzilla to the extraction point have lost 50% of their Health.

The rest of the notes cover the final battle as the heroes worked to escape the plane. Because I wanted to make clear just how deadly Phyrexia was, I made sure that the heroes had plenty of allies with them… that I would then target mercilessly. The idea was that additional Phyrexian reinforcements would start showing up every round, with two of the Praetors gradually trickling in. It was important for me to emphasize that Phyrexians weren’t only numerous and powerful, but also smart, hence Luthor’s appearance toward the end.

Time to roll initiative as the heroes need to keep the Phyrexians at bay long enough for Mordin and/or the other brainy members to set up their escape route. Normally the extraction point is many stories up, but Godzilla’s immense height means that they are able to get within range as long as he doesn’t move around too much.

Beatrix Kiddo
F: Am
A: In
S: Ex
E: In
R: Ty
I: Gd
P: In

Health: 150         Karma: 56

Hattori Hanzo Sword: Str+15 damage
Gun: 10 damage

Samus Aran
F: Rm
A: Rm
S: Rm
E: In
R: In
I: Rm
P: Gd

Health: 130         Karma: 80

Body Armor: Gd, Rm vs heat and cold
Charge Cannon: Can fire off three shots for Gd damage each or one charged shot at Rm damage
                Wave Beam: Rm electrical damage
                Ice Beam: Rm cold damage
                Plasma Beam: Rm fire damage
Missile Launcher: Am damage and reduces target’s Body Armor by 3 ranks; can be used three times per session
Grapple Beam: Agility to hit, Strength to pull
Morph Ball: Ex speed, +4 CS to Dodge or Evade, can crawl on metal/electrical/magnetic tracks
                Morph Ball Bomb: Rm damage, or can charge for one round to deal Mn damage to one area
Visor: Ex infravision and penetrating vision
Space Jump Boots: Ex leaping

Lucca Ashtear
F: Ty
A: Ex
S: Pr
E: Ty
R: Am
I: Ex
P: Rm

Health: 36            Karma: 100

Megablaster: Ex damage
Hammer: Str+10 damage
Flamethrower (Reason to use): Ex fire damage to all enemies in a line
Hypnowave (Reason to use): All enemies in one area must make a Psyche check or fall asleep
Fire (Psyche to use): Am fire damage to one enemy

Toothless
F: Ex
A: Am
S: Rm
E: In
R: Pr
I: Gd
P: Ex

Health: 140         Karma: 34

Flight: Rm
Breath Weapon: 350 points per day, can spend points to deal an equivalent amount of dmg (up to 50 per shot); points recharge after long rest
Bite and Claws: Str+5 damage
Enhanced Senses: Rm hearing and smell
Fire Resistance: Rm

Exterminator (1d4 arrive each round)
F: In
A: Ex
S: In
E: Mn
R: Rm
I: Ty
P: Gd

Health: 175         Karma: 46

Body Armor: Gd, Cl1000 vs radiation/toxins
Shoulder-Mounted Gatling Gun: In damage
Energy Blade: Am damage
Flight: Rm
Nightvision
Speed: Pr

Chancellor of the Dross (1d2 arrive each round) (a burly figure encased in metal, including a skull-shaped mask, although the occasional gap in its metal exterior gives glimpses of rotting, diseased flesh beneath. A pair of long hooked claws extend from its wrists to a foot or two past the ends of its fingers, and a dark purple cape is draped around its shoulders and swirls around its ankles.)
F: In
A: In
S: Rm
E: In
R: Ex
I: In
P: Ex

Health: 150

Flight: Rm
Life Drain: Rm damage to one target and Chancellor of the Dross recovers that much Health

Flesh-Eater Imp (1d8 arrive each round) (a nasty creature about the size of a human baby, covered in rubbery flesh, with a hairless head sporting a pair of narrow red eyes and a gigantic grinning mouth like that of a shark. It flies through the air on bat-like wings.)
F: Gd
A: Ex
S: Gd
E: Gd
R: Pr
I: Pr
P: Pr

Health: 50

Flight: Ty
Cannibalize: Whenever an ally in the same area is reduced to 0 Health, a Flesh-Eater Imp may consume its body and get +1 CS to all attributes for one turn. Each body may only be consumed by one Flesh-Eater Imp.
Infect: Targets damaged much make an Endurance check or lose 1 rank from one physical attribute for every 10 damage taken

Vault Skirge (1d8 arrive each round) (a humanoid creature covered in black chitin with very strong insectoid features, including a pair of thrumming wings coming from its back)
F: Ty
A: Gd
S: Gd
E: Ty
R: Pr
I: Pr
P: Pr

Health: 32

Flight: Gd
Blood Drain: Whenever this creature deals damage with a melee attack, it regains Health equal to the amount of damage it dealt

Dementia Bat (2d6 arrive each round) (this creature has the overall look and shape of a flayed bat, although spiked metal plates cover much of its body, including the entirety of its face.)
F: Ty
A: Ty
S: Fb
E: Ty
R: Fb
I: Pr
P: Pr

Health: 20

Flight: Ty
Cry of Insanity: This power instantly kills Dementia Bat and one target enemy must make a Psyche check vs. stun

Whoever’s working to daisy-chain the DDCs together will have to make four consecutive Reason checks: one to prep each of the DDCs, one to link them, and one to link them to the cable leading to the reactor. Once one of these checks succeeds, Azula arrives and transforms into her Praetor form. Against a Praetor, the rules for death work a little differently: if a Praetor reduces you to 0 Health, you must make an Endurance check. On a green or better, you are knocked out. On a white, you die.

Azula the Unforgiving
F: Un
A: Mn
S: In
E: ShZ
R: In
I: Ex
P: Mn

Health: 710         Karma: 100

Lightning Speed: Azula can make two actions every round. When combat begins, Azula the Unforgiving automatically gets a round during which only she and her allies can act.
Firebending: Un, can be used for a variety of effects including blasts, weapons, fast movement/flight, and shields—effects can be spread out, reducing to Mn rank if affecting one area, and -1 rank for every subsequent area
Lightning: ShX damage, can make a Fighting check to ignore electrical damage (or redirect an incoming electrical attack on a Yellow or better result)

Once three checks have been successfully made to set up the DDC, a figure comes swooping in from the night sky. His proportions suggest a human, although one that’s massively tall and muscular. He is wearing only a loincloth, a helmet, and some wrappings around his neck, arms, and feet, exposing his unnaturally gray flesh, monstrous face, and the symbol of a two-headed snake on his chest. He lets loose a bellowing laugh. “So, these are insects who would attempt to break the grip of the Father of Machines. I think you shall find yourselves far more easily broken.”

At this point, glowing lines of deep purple radiate out of him in pulsing lines. He is momentarily consumed by this brilliant purple light before drawing it into himself. He has been transformed and is now covered in a form-fitting black carapace, with a pair of gigantic black snakes sprouting from his head, looking around eagerly as venom drips in thick ropes from their fangs. His body from the waist down has completely transformed, becoming something like a four-legged crab or spider with thick armor plating.

Mumm-Ra, the Eternal
F: Am
A: Rm
S: Am
E: ShZ
R: Am
I: Am
P: ShX

Health: 630         Karma: 250

Death Aura: Any enemy in the same area as Mumm-Ra, the Eternal must make an Endurance check or die. At the beginning of Mumm-Ra, the Eternal’s turn, he may revive a nearby corpse as a zombie under his control.
Energy Generation: Mn
Flight: Un
Magic Detection: Un
Growth: Un
Shape-Shifting: Mn
Body Transformation: Mn
Illusions: Mn

Once the final checks have been made to hook up the DDCs, if any of the checks failed at any time, both DDCs suddenly glow brightly and explode (40 damage to anyone who had been working on them).

If all the checks to hook up the DDCs succeeded, both devices light up and pop open, their electric fields beginning to form and combine together. Just then, both devices suddenly go dark, their electric fields winking out, as the cable connecting them to the reactor goes dark. Looking through the portal, you can see none other than Lex Luthor standing by the reactor, holding the other end of the cable in his hand, having just unplugged it. “I’m terribly sorry. Were you using that?”

At this point in the episode, Azula hit Godzilla with enough damage to knock him out, meaning that Nico had to get desperate. Overall, this was a fairly dangerous episode to run as being this mean to the players can easily go bad in any number of ways, but I was very pleased with the way it turned out.

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