DM Screen 5 – When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

It’s time for League notes again! I had originally intended for this episode to be the last in the Jurassic Park arc, but as I’ve mentioned before, the arc ended up taking much longer than I anticipated, so this one turned out to be the penultimate chapter.

One other unexpected bit: as I mentioned in my last DM Screen, I wasn’t anticipating the PCs taking the other League members with them through Jurassic Park, so between the last episode and this one, I drew up stats for those characters and allowed each of the players to control one of them (plus Stitch’s new dinosaur friend) in battle, as opposed to just having me roll and control NPCs for 80% of the combat rounds. Here are the stats for the three League members and the velociraptor that would come to be known as Lace:

Lara Croft
F: Rm
A: Rm
S: Gd
E: Rm
R: Ex
I: Rm
P: Rm

Health: 100         Karma: 80

Guns (2): 12 damage each
Bow: Str+10 damage

Zero
F: In
A: Ex
S: Ex
E: In
R: Ex
I: Gd
P: Gd

Health: 120         Karma: 40

Z-Saber: Str+15 damage, can make a Fighting check at -2 CS to reflect lasers (doesn’t currently have)
Z-Buster: Agility to hit, deals 15 damage; can fire three times per round
Body Armor: Gd, Ex vs. fire and cold, immune to toxins and mental, life support
Computer Links: In
Teleportation: In, only to somewhere he’s been before
Climbing: Ex
Subtank: Can be used once per mission to refill Zero’s Health.

Roland Deschain
F: Rm
A: In
S: Gd
E: Rm
R: Ty
I: In
P: Gd

Health: 110         Karma: 56

Guns (2): +3 CS to hit, 14 damage each (doesn’t currently have)

Velociraptor
F: Ex
A: Ex
S: Ex
E: Ex
R: Fb
I: Ty
P: Fb

Health: 80

The four heroes, along with their new allies—Lara Croft, Roland Deschain, Zero, and the velociraptor that Stitch is currently steering with a long-handled ladle—have finished gathering up what supplies the other League members had strewn around this control center. Zero mentions that he came upon a motor pool elsewhere in this facility when he was scouting around—there should be a vehicle suitable for transporting the heroes. The PCs are, of course, free to suggest using their jeep as well, though it’s a little on the small side for eight passengers.

Regardless of the path they choose, the League makes a quick and quiet journey through the silent halls of the visitors’ center. If they go to the motor pool, they find a variety of vehicles: more jeeps, pickup trucks, smaller off-road motorbikes, and a sturdy armored vehicle clearly intended for transporting animals. The heroes can go with whatever arrangement of vehicles they wish; keep in mind that, of the NPCs, only Lara can reliably drive.

As they are about ready to be on their way, the characters rolling green or higher Intuition (Perception) or Enhanced Senses checks will catch flickers of orange light from the edge of a jungle—looking more closely reveals several strange creatures watching them. Their general silhouette is similar to a predatory cat, like a jaguar, but with no skin or muscle to speak of: their bodies are skeletal and made of rust-red metal. The claws at the end of all four legs have been lengthened to a grotesque degree. The source of the light comes from a large, glowing crystal imbedded within their ribcages, giving their features an even more hellish cast. The heroes have never seen these before, but their look is unmistakably Phyrexian. Just as this realization hits, the cat-things turn and bound into the jungle with terrific speed.

Lara has spotted the creatures. “Slash panthers!” she cries. “They must be scouts—they’ll report us back to the main Phyrexian force.”

If no one says anything similar, Roland will comment, “Not if we take ‘em down first.”

Slash Panthers (4)
F: Ex
A: Ex
S: Ex
E: Ex
R: Fb
I: Gd
P: Fb

Health: 80

Haste: Always act in the surprise round
Claws: Ex damage, ignores one rank of Body Armor

I’m a big fan of chase scenes, and I thought that a high-speed chase through the dinosaur-infested jungles of Jurassic Park would be particularly exciting. Basically, I ran combat more or less as usual, and had the landscape and setup change every round as outlined below.

Round 1: The heroes pursue the four panthers through the thick jungle surrounding the visitors’ center. Anyone driving a vehicle must make an Agility (Vehicles) check in order to successfully navigate around trees and through thick underbrush. Anyone on a vehicle whose driver has made a Yellow or better result on this roll can make a ranged attack on a panther, though if the driver him/herself wants to make such an attack, they’ll be at -2 CS to do so.

Round 2: The slash panthers head toward a rougher area of the forest dominated by uneven uplifts and gorges, making the terrain unpredictable and treacherous. Those on smaller vehicles (motorcycles and velociraptors) can keep pace with the panthers with an Agility (Vehicles) check, while those in larger vehicles (jeeps) will have to find another route around with a Reason check. Passengers can assist with this latter check.

Round 3: The heroes emerge from the jungle and into a field of gently-rolling hills. Wandering through this field is a pack of long-necked dinosaurs the size of buildings. They move slowly, with a casual rolling gait, but the slash panthers beeline for them and weave between their legs, occasionally lashing out at one with claws or teeth. The dinosaurs begin to rear up and stamp around in panic, creating a suddenly very hazardous area for the heroes to drive through as they pursue the Phyrexians. Again, an Agility (Vehicles) check is needed both for positioning and to avoid getting hit by the suddenly panicked Apatosauruses (Rm damage).

Round 4 and on: On the other side of the field, the panthers dart back into the cover of trees and brush. This time, however, the ground begins to very noticeably slope downward, making vehicles difficult to control and even harder to stop—anyone wanting to do either from this point on will be at -2 CS to their Vehicles check.

Of course, thanks to a thrown Apatosaurus, we never got to round 4.

By the time the slash panthers are taken down, the heroes find themselves near a stream that flows over the edge of a 30-foot cliff in a small but dramatic waterfall. Looking out, they can see the ocean nearby—a cool breeze flows off of it, taking the edge off the muggy heat of the island.

Down below, on a large plateau of rock and mud, is what looks to be some sort of low, rectangular structure, made of the same concrete as the other buildings in Jurassic Park, but this one has organic-looking patches of black metal growing at seemingly random spots on it. There are two obvious entrances into the building: a metal door set into the front, and a larger rolling door leading into some sort of extension behind it. The building is surrounded by a towering electric fence—this looks as though it was intended to perhaps be a holding pen for dinosaurs, although the only creatures visible within the fence right now are Phyrexians. About half a dozen of varying sizes and shapes are immediately visible, though it’s possible there could be more inside the structure and in the surrounding area.

Once the heroes have a sense of their thoughts and impressions, they can start making checks to see what they can figure out/take in. Each can make a Reason, Intuition, or Psyche check, with the following results.

Reason: This character happens to notice several piles of rock, each about 10 feet high, around the interior perimeter of the fence. There are well-traveled paths between each of these piles and the central structure. This character concludes that the Phyrexians must be digging into the rock directly beneath the building.

Intuition: This character makes out several tracks in the area just around the outside perimeter of the fence. They crisscross multiple times, and all seem to be made by the same creature, whose giant lizard- or bird-like foot was easily large enough to crush a human. Whatever this creature was, it looks as though it repeatedly tried to get through the electric fence, judging by some significant damage to the fence at several places. This seems unusual to the character noticing this—most animals, if confronted by an electric fence, would usually leave it alone unless they had a particularly compelling reason to want to go inside.

Psyche: Whoever makes this check can feel the presence of something old and magically powerful about 20 feet directly beneath the building.

The main goal is for the heroes to get into the building and find what the Phyrexians are looking for. There are many ways of doing this.

There is a T-Rex lurking in the area (which the footprints suggest). The Phyrexians stole her eggs and are studying them inside the structure; she has been trying to break inside, but has been discouraged from doing so by the functioning electric fence. If the heroes manage to shut down the electric fence, the T-Rex will show up to storm the gates.

The interior yard between the electric fence and the concrete building contains five blinding souleaters, five insatiable souleaters, and two dross rippers. In addition, the Phyrexians have set up one of the same analysis stations that the heroes encountered during their initial escape: a transparent cube hooked directly into a computer monitor lined with angular Phyrexian text. A nearby hero making an Intuition (Perception) check (or just looking into the box) will notice that they are currently analyzing what is clearly Zero’s forearm and hand, which grips a short cylindrical object in its robotic fingers. Lying on the table next to the analysis station are a pair of heavy-looking revolvers, still in their holsters attached to a pair of gun belts.

The players didn’t get to any of the stuff in the last paragraph this session—stay tuned next time for enemy stats and the conclusion of the Jurassic Park arc!

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