I expect this to be the last session in this arc or even campaign, and of course I’ll say more on that at the end.
For now, the group is camped just outside the entrance to the The Tower of the Ghost. They should probably have stayed longer in the tower in the previous excursion, honestly, but they’re going back in now.
As a procedural note, for areas that the group has already visited, I will not reroll the dangers and discoveries unless there’s some other reason in the fiction to do so. Instead, I’ll roll a d6 for a random encounter: on a 1-3, no encounter occurs; on a 4-5, they get an indication that an encounter could happen nearby or similar; and on a 6, they get an encounter. To determine what that encounter would be, I’ll roll another d6: on a 1-3, it’s something that they’ve seen before (e.g. a fluxgrazer or a murden); on a 4-5, I’ll roll in the Perilous Wilds tables I used previously; and on a 6, I’ll roll on the relevant Numenera table.
I’ll also spend very little time or effort on the descriptions of the areas they’ve already been to, since they already know what they look like. They’ll simply move through them quickly unless something interesting and unexpected occurs.
Mold and decay just as before. Encounter: no, the fluxgrazer has moved on. Two exits, one to the Hall of Trials and one down to a guard station. Hall seemed to be a dead end, so down they go.
Small room with broken furniture. Encounter: no, the fluxgrazers and reptile vermin did not return. Kas searched this area quite thoroughly last time, so the group moves on through the exit they found when the fireball went off last time.
Glowing fluxgrazer bones in a pile, clothes scattered about. Staircase leads up. Encounter: no, the fluxgrazer isn’t here. They already looted the trinkets, so they follow the stairs up.
Sprawling area with high, dark, stone ceilings, and many marks & scratches on the floor. At the other end is a bridge over a deep chasm. Encounter: indications of one nearby. Is it a fluxgrazer, a murden, or something else? Something from the Perilous Wilds table: Beast -> Earthbound -> Centipede. A large specimen, but is it a threat? The die of fate says it is not particularly dangerous unless they threaten it somehow. That’s not why they’re here, so they’ll just move on.
Now that they are entering new territory (for them), I’ll go back to the procedure I used in the previous session.
Common area, no dangers or discoveries. Storage room with signs of activity / struggle / battle. 1d6+1 = 5 exits in various directions.
The storage room is filled with various containers and crates, some stacked haphazardly and others overturned. The room is in disarray, with scratches and markings on the floor and walls indicating a struggle or battle has taken place. The containers themselves appear to have been rifled through, their contents spilled out onto the ground. Despite the signs of activity, there are no dangers or discoveries to be found here. The room is large, with exits leading in five different directions, offering a variety of options for the explorers. The air is musty and still, with only the occasional sound of a distant drip echoing through the room. The light from the entrance is dim, but it is enough to make out the outlines of the containers and crates.
What directions do the exits lead? Forward, back, right, and two different ones down. The group is not immediately interested with going back over the chasm (even if it’s a different way), so they’ll go forward.
Unique area, no dangers, 1d4 = 3 discoveries. Celestial energy nexus in a chamber with a strong echo effect. Discoveries are a map, a statue, and a ramp leading down. Two additional exits on this level.
The chamber of the celestial energy nexus is a sight to behold. The walls are made of a gleaming metal, reflecting the bright light of the celestial energy that swirls and flows throughout the room. The echo effect is so strong that even the softest whisper seems to resound like a thundering voice. At the center of the room stands a statue, depicting a figure with outstretched arms, as if embracing the celestial energy that surrounds it. To one side of the room, a ramp leads downwards, while on the other side, a map hangs on the wall, showing the layout of the tower and the surrounding area. This room feels like a place of great power, and the explorers can sense the significance of the energy nexus.
Photo by Szilvia Basso on Unsplash
All three of them stand in amazement for a moment. After a bit, Kasciuto walks over to the map and begins to take notes for future navigation. Sarca inspects the energy nexus more closely; this is exactly the sort of thing they wanted to find here, but now that they have, they don’t quite know what to do with it. They decide to try to summon a spirit to see if it can discuss the nexus and what it does: success with a complication and stress. As a complication, I decide that Sarca used both of their remaining uses of ritual incense, not just 1.
The “spirit” appears; this time, rather than a holographic face or figure, a disembodied voiced echoes in the chamber. (Of course, like the spirits they’ve encountered, this is actually an artificial intelligence with a voice interface. But that’s with our scientific knowledge.) “Ready for query,” it says.
Sarca asks about the function and history of this place.
The AI responds in a deep, resonant voice that echoes throughout the chamber. “The Celestial Energy Nexus is a hub of the Kazu Empire’s most advanced technology, drawing upon the energy of the cosmos to power their most ambitious projects. It can be harnessed to perform incredible feats, from harnessing the power of stars to manipulating the fabric of reality itself. The Nexus exists as a testament to the Kazu’s unwavering devotion to progress and their mastery of the unknown.” The AI pauses, as if considering its next words carefully. “However, its use must be approached with caution. The Kazu learned the hard way that even the most advanced technology can have unintended consequences.”
“Unintended consequences?” Sarca asks.
The AI’s ethereal voice echoes in the chamber. “Yes, unintended consequences. The Kazu Empire built this place to harness and control the celestial energies that course through the universe. But as with all things, their plans had unforeseen results. The nexus has become unstable, causing ripples in the fabric of reality that can have disastrous effects.”
“Is there a way to stabilize it?” Sarca asks.
The AI responds, “Stabilizing the nexus requires the insertion of specialized components, which are unfortunately no longer within my control. The components were taken by rogue entities who sought to use the power of the nexus for their own purposes. If you are able, I would suggest seeking out these components and returning them to their rightful place in the nexus. This will restore stability and prevent further unintended consequences.”
Since, as the player here, I don’t want to go on a long quest, Sarca will instead suggest that they could shut down the nexus. “If it’s unstable, why not just shut it down?” they ask.
The AI responds, “Yes, that could be a solution. The power source of the nexus is located in the crypts below. If you were to find and remove it, the nexus would shut down and the instability would be neutralized.” The AI pauses before adding, “However, I must warn you, the path to the power source is treacherous and guarded by many dangers.”
That’s it, then. The group will need to delve to the Crypt of the Oligarchs, which is in this same site.
Kazu studies the map to determine how far to the Crypts. They’ll need to descend several levels, although this map won’t have any indications of who (or what) may be found along the way. Down the ramp they go…
Common area, no dangers or discoveries. Storage room with broken structure / furniture. 2 exits, one of which leads down. The other stays on this level.
The storage room is in disarray, with broken shelves and overturned crates scattered across the floor. The walls are cracked and the ceiling has caved in in some areas, exposing the metal support beams beneath. The air is musty and there’s a damp smell in the air, as if water has seeped in from somewhere.
Despite the chaos, there are no items in the room that might be of interest. One exit leads down, while the other stays on this level.
With Kas’s notes from the map, they determine that they need to go down the ramp.
Common area, 1d4 = 4 dangers, no discoveries. Barracks with junk / debris / refuse / waste. 1 exit down. Dangers: Creature x3, trap (crushing / smashing). Creature is a feline of some sort, fairly threatening (rolled 2 on die of fate).
The barracks is littered with debris and waste, making it difficult to navigate. The floor is covered in old, rusted metal scraps and broken furniture that has been pushed aside, creating a maze of obstacles. The air is thick with the smell of decay and mustiness, and it’s clear that this place has not been used in a long time. The only exit is a staircase leading down into the depths of the facility.
As the explorers make their way through the room, they quickly realize that they are not alone. Three feline creatures, with sharp claws and teeth, prowl the area, ready to attack. The creatures are wary and aggressive, making it clear that they are not to be trifled with. The explorers must be careful not to get too close or they will find themselves in a dangerous fight.
Adding to the danger, the room is also filled with a trap of some sort. The ground beneath them is unstable, and it’s clear that one wrong step could result in a crushing or smashing trap being triggered. The explorers must be extra cautious as they navigate the cluttered space and keep their eyes peeled for any signs of danger.
I’m not sure about how ChatGPT described the trap, but that can wait until either something indicates it is set off or the group has dealt with the cats and will be moving on.
The group isn’t here to fight, but sneaking would be extremely difficult with this sort of predator. In some sense, predators are slightly easier to deal with, because they normally do not want to expend too much energy on dangerous prey. Dana will attempt to intimidate them into letting the group pass: success with no complications or stress.
Dana steps forward, holding her torch high. The light flickers and dances, casting eerie shadows on the walls. The group can hear the low growls of the feline creatures in the darkness. Dana stands tall, her eyes fixed on the creatures. Her movements are slow and steady, and she makes no sudden movements. The cats back away, their tails twitching as they watch her. The group moves carefully, keeping a wary eye on the cats as they make their way to the staircase. Dana remains at the forefront, her torch held high, until they reach the safety of the staircase and begin their descent.
((PS: I realized later I forgot to deal with the trap, so instead they’ll deal with it on the way back up.))
Common area, 1 danger. Storage room with inscription / ornamentation and 2 exits, leading left and right. Danger: Creature (beast vermin).
The explorers enter the storage room, their footsteps echoing on the stone floor. The walls are covered in intricate inscriptions and ornate carvings, depicting long forgotten battles and religious ceremonies. As they take in the beauty of the room, they hear a scuffling sound from the far end of the room. They tense, weapons at the ready, as a large, furry creature with beady eyes and sharp teeth emerges from the shadows. The group prepares for a fight, but the creature seems more interested in the food scattered on the ground than in attacking them. The explorers keep their weapons ready, wary of the beast’s sudden movements, as they make their way to the exits on either side of the room.
Kasciuto’s map indicates that the left exit leads to the Crypts, so they’ll go that way.
Unique area, 1 danger, 1d4 = 1 discovery. Crypt of the Oligarchs, with junk / debris / refuse / waste and no additional exits. Danger: Trap based on oddity (crystalline / glassy). Discovery: pit / shaft / chasm.
The crypt of the oligarchs is a dimly lit chamber, filled with the remnants of a once glorious civilization. The walls are adorned with intricate carvings and inscriptions, now covered in a layer of dirt and debris. The air is thick with the musty scent of decay. The center of the room is dominated by a bottomless chasm, from which a soft, pulsing glow emanates. The explorers know that the chasm is the source of power for the celestial energy nexus they are here to disable. The only obstacle in their way is a trap based on a strange, crystalline material. The trap shimmers and glows with an ethereal light.
Kasciuto pulls out his spyglass and examines the pit. “Listen, let’s just cobble together a fire bomb and throw it down there. That should disrupt it enough, right?” he asks.
Sarca and Dana look a bit nervous. “Let’s deal with this crystal first,” Dana suggests. She examines it closely, looking for a way to disarm it: success with stress. Moving carefully, with Sarca’s help, together they find a pair of small levers on the sides of the trap. They pull them, and the trap is disarmed.
Now Kasciuto tries to assemble a fire bomb with the oil, flint & steel, and the debris found in here. It’s been a while since he’s had a good excuse to put together this sort of destructive device, and he’s glad to have it now: success with no complications or stress.
Surprising everyone, including himself, he holds up a small device. “This should do the trick,” he says. “I’ll throw it down there, and you guys can get out of here. I’ll be right behind you.”
This is another risky action, but it’s the only way they can think of to do it. Dana nods, and Sarca gives her a reassuring smile. “We’ll be fine,” she says. “Just be careful!”
Dana and Sarca back up, their eyes on Kasciuto, who readies his aim and then tosses it into the pit. On a failure, this could go extremely poorly for him, but in fact he succeeds exceptionally.
Kasciuto immediately goes to work, gathering materials and getting to work on an improvised explosive device. He pulls out his fire oil and flint & steel, quickly cobbling together a rough but effective bomb. The others watch in awe as he expertly creates the device, deftly handling the materials and working with lightning speed.
With the bomb ready, Kasciuto takes a deep breath and approaches the energy pit. The others hold their breath as he prepares to throw the bomb into the chasm. With a deep breath and a steadying hand, he hurls the bomb into the void.
In a flash of light and an earsplitting explosion, the energy nexus is disabled. The celestial energies of the universe are restored to stability, and the group watches in amazement as the chasm is filled with an intense, glowing light.
The group flees back, afraid of some blowback from the explosion, but they are safe.
The trip back is a bit treacherous and in fact they have to stop to avoid the smashing trap: unfortunately Dana fails, and she and Sarca both are severely injured. They’ll each take a condition, “severely bruised,” and mark another exhausted die from the stress.
Do they encounter any more creatures? No, not at all. Upon returning to the energy nexus, it is dark. Even the spirit doesn’t respond, as the power source has been completely shut down.
They pick their way back carefully to the outside, hopeful that they did the right thing.
I had no real idea what they’d find or do when they got to the tower as shown on Dyson Logos’s map, but I’m quite pleased with how it all went. That said, I’m anticipating the next game to play solo, so their story will conclude here for now. If I return to this group, I might model them in a different game, perhaps using Worlds Without Number directly.
Abenteuerspiel! has been a lot of fun, and I’m glad I got to play it. It’s really mostly a resolution mechanic that needs additional adventure procedures, but I enjoyed it as part of a toolkit approach. Perhaps if I played it in a cooperative fashion with other folks, I might even handle some things (e.g. around equipment and supplies) differently. But ultimately that wasn’t the focus of this little campaign; instead, it was about seeing what the characters would find and how they’d react, and for that, the game performed very well.