Eastern Wastes of America [Post-Apocalyptic: OmegaLite20]
#11
CHAPTER 6: A HOTEL, A SERVICE CENTER, AND AN OMEGA-DILLO

System: OmegaLite20
Tools: Gamemaster’s Apprentice Deck; Nine Steps and a Bloody Heart 

Just prior to the start of this scene I asked an Oracle question. “Are there other guests in the hotel?”  Response was Yes + event. Tension level resets to “1” for the next scene. I generated some information about the other guests, but I will let that be revealed through the narrative. I will give details about the event when it occurs.


Scene 1 [Tension Lvl:1]:

Dale led Nate and me up to our room, number 204. Other than the door handles being covered in the same black paint-like coating as the main entrance to the hotel, the room was a normal, dual occupancy room that had been kept in a clean condition similar to the rest of the building. We set our belongings aside and washed off some of the grime of the road in the bathroom. The building still had running water, though the pressure wasn’t great. Ross apparently had the hotel hooked up to a well-system and solar-powered water pump.

About an hour later we returned to the lobby. Rain was steadily coming down outside the windows that lined the front wall of the hotel. Ross had a fresh pot of coffee brewing in the dining area and we went to sit down. I was a bit surprised to see that there were other guests seated at a small table in the corner furthest from the lobby.  They appeared to be a family of three, all human. The man had light-brown hair and a slight, almost rickety, build. The woman, who I assumed was his wife, was pretty, yet plain with thick, black hair. Between the two sat a young boy, about ten or eleven. He rolled a small toy car along the table top.

“I take it they’re not from town?” I asked Ross as he set down two hot cups of coffee.

“Nope,” he said softly, keeping our conversation private. “That’s Tyler and Shannon and their son Allen. They lived in a remote area north of town. After the attacks and seeing some of the mutated creatures on their land they didn’t feel safe all on their own. They came south looking for others and settled here. Shannon’s a good cook and helps with meals. Tyler’s pretty weak -- the result of a gas attack he tells me -- but he helps where he can. He has certain . . . uh . . . abilities that are particularly useful in keeping the actual building clean and painted.”

I took note of Ross’ circumvention of Tyler’s “abilities,” but chose not to ask anything further. There was probably a reason our host wasn’t forthcoming.  

“So, are you two looking to settle down or just passing through?” Ross asked, shifting the conversation to us.

“We're heading west. I’m hoping to find my family,” Nate explained. “But we’re in Mausdale specifically to help a friend. Sean Murphy. You know him? [Does he? (bad) Yes]

“I’ve met him once or twice over at Verna’s. If I recall, she and Gene bought a lot of produce from him.”

“That’s what she told us, as well. Anyway, his tractor’s on the fritz and he was hoping Jesse might be able to go out to his farm and take a look at it.”

“Why didn’t he come himself?”

“His wife and daughter took the car and headed west.” Ross’ eyebrows raised questioningly. “Long story, and I’m not sure it’s mine to tell. But that does bring us to another reason we’re here. He needs help and we were hoping to find his son Lucas and try to convince him to return home.”

“I can help you with Jesse,” Ross offered. “ In fact, I need to run down to the service center to pick up a few gallons of fuel. I can drive you down after dinner. Murphy’s son might be a bit more difficult. For starters, I have no idea who he is.”
[The offer to drive the pair to the service station is the result of the random event.  I drew the norse symbol  Jera again [Image: YBxXvPQ0cw9AiWCaGK36tJyiJd3zY5uNJIrosBKG...deBA=w2400] - which, among other things, is defined as having fruitful results and a removed roadblock.  In this case, I decided to remove the obstacle of having to wait till the rain stops to begin looking for people.]

“We heard he had a girlfriend in town,” I cut in. “Her name was Jaci?”

Ross thinks for a moment. “Jaci? Don’t think I know her.”

“Yes you do, Dad,” Dale chimed in, having just walked over to join the conversation. I had seen him doing busy work at the front desk, every now and then casting a quick glance my way. I guess he had finally built up the nerve to come over and talk. “They’re talking about Jacqueline Fox.”  Turning his attention more to Nate than myself, he explained, “I know Lucas. At least I knew him. I haven’t seen much of him since he broke up with Jaci.”

“Could you introduce us?” I asked. “She might know how we can find him.”

“I don’t know how helpful or willing she’ll be, but sure. I’ll introduce you tomorrow.”

“What about Alex Andrews or Ken Watkins?” Nate inquired further.

“You two ask a lot of questions,” Ross pointed out.

Nate smiled. “We’ve stumbled upon a lot since arriving in the area.”

“Alex and Ken hung out with me and some of my other friends,” Dale answered.  “Alex is a bit on the younger side for the group, but she was included due to her dating Ken.?”

“How much younger?” I pried.

“Ken is [21+d4] 24.  Alex is turning eighteen this summer.”

“And this was okay with Alex’s parents?” [(even) No.]

“Mother,” Dale corrected. “No, not at all. She kept wanting her to break it off, but Alex’s got an independent streak. Why are you interested in them?”

“We believe they might both be dead,” Nate stated bluntly. 

We gave the father and son the quick version. Nate wrapped it up by saying, “At least we are assuming Ken is dead. We didn’t actually see any signs of struggle or blood in the area where we found the radio, but can think of no other reason he would leave it.”

I run down some of our theories. However, when I mentioned the possibility that Ken may have been jealous of her seeing someone else, Dale stopped me.

“I doubt jealousy had anything to do with it. In fact, if anyone wanted out of the relationship it was Ken. He had his eyes on another hoop, yet never broke it off with Alex to avoid the confrontation. Instead, he thought if he just stopped showing any interest in Alex she would eventually stop hanging out with us. Of course, that never happened. My guess is she stuck with us because there weren’t many other people close to her age to hang out with.”

I exchanged a worried look with Nate. We had discussed the possibility that Ken might have done something drastic to end the relationship.

Dale surprised us with his next question. “Do you think there’s anything at the shack that might give you a clue?”

“Perhaps,” I responded curiously. “Why?”

“I have a map to it. It’s just hand-drawn with some landmarks and GPS coordinates. We partied out there once. Charlie knew about it and wrote down the directions.”

While the thought of checking out the cabin was intriguing, I felt we didn’t have the time at the moment, and frankly, there probably wasn’t much there that would tell us any more about what had happened. “Thanks, Dale. We’ll keep that in mind. But hopefully, we can figure this out while staying in town.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Shannon, the woman from the other family staying at the hotel, standing nearby.

“Mr. Thompson, I going to start dinner now,” she said in a meek voice.

“I’ve told you, Shannon, you don’t need my permission to cook,” Ross tells her with a smile. “You and your family are part of our family while you are here.”

Without acknowledging Ross’s words she continued talking about dinner. “I baked some bread this morning, and I believe we still have some leftover pork. Enough for everyone. I was thinking of using some of the sauce and making barbeque pork sandwiches.”

“That sounds great,” Dale affirmed and Shannon left for the kitchen. 

“Pork seems to be a hot menu item around here,” Nate commented, recalling the meal Sean had served them.

“You can say that. Pigs are easy to raise, can be cooked many ways, and their fat can be used for soap or grease. Very useful animals. Tell you what, let me see if I can reach Jesse on the short wave to let him know we’ll be coming down to see him in a few hours. In the meantime, you two have another cup of coffee and dinner will probably be ready in about thirty minutes.”

[Investigation update: For this scene, I consulted the GMA oracle to determine that Ross and Dale had useful information. The first draw was the Ace of Hearts, which indicated a surprise, in this case finding a map to the cabin. The redraw for the clue was the Ace of Diamonds, which indicated that jealousy was not a motive.]


Scene 2 [Tension Lvl:2]:

By the time the evening meal was over, the rains had rolled in. The wind wasn’t too bad, however, there were moments of downpours accompanied by lighting.  Had it not been for Ross' offer to drive us into town we would have had to wait until tomorrow. Nevertheless, despite waiting for a break in the rain, we were sufficiently drenched after loading the wheelbarrow full of carrots onto the back of the truck.

Old Valley Road toward the Mausdale Service Center was rather barren. Woods bordered both sides most of the way, however, we did pass a couple of houses as we neared our destination. If they were occupied, the residents were staying inside due to the rain. In a few short minutes we arrived at the service center. Across the street was the Mausdale Farm Supply which was dark and appeared closed. Those two buildings appeared to be the extent of Mausdale’s business district.



[Image: XgCWfHmIQnUScvTGbZ7D9Z-p0CibnRt90ggqv5Tk...xFow=w2400]
Mausdale Service Center

One of the service bays doors was open and Ross drove the truck inside to get us out of the rain. A grey hoop waited inside for us. He and Ross exchanged some greetings before Ross introduced him as Jesse. He seemed genuinely glad to meet us, even more so when we explained we were friends with Sean Murphy. His willingness to help Sean was unquestionable and he eagerly accepted the carrots as payment, lamenting over how long it had been since he had a good carrot from Murphy’s farm.  However, there was a problem.

“I doubt I have the parts on hand to fix his tractor,” Jesse cautioned. 

[Is Jesse willing to help? (Random odds=even) Yes
Will Jesse accept the carrots? (Alyssa will make a COM check against DC10 [Random]: 17+1MND+2COM=20  Easy Success
Does Jesse have the parts? (Bad) No.]

“Could you find them somewhere in Danville?” I asked, thinking about the larger city a couple of miles south, assuming they must have several auto and mechanic shops.

He gave me a look that was a bit hard for me to interpret, rabbit-face and all. “Possibly, but we don’t deal with Danville. More to the point, Danville doesn’t deal with us. Seems they don’t like six-foot-tall talking rabbits.”

“But they know you’re just victims? Right?”

“Oh yeah! In fact, they had their fair share of bombs dropped on them as well. Hit ‘em pretty bad in fact from what I’ve heard. But they didn’t get gassed and they’re still human. I don’t know if we make ‘em uncomfortable or they think the gas did more than just affect our appearance. Turned us into monsters, or perhaps spies for Tech-West. Most likely, it’s plain and simple prejudice. We’re just different from them.

“Anyway. They don’t come around here. They’ve warned us to stay away from them . . . sometimes violently. And that’s how we get along,” he said, throwing air quotes around the words “get along” with his paws.

“So Sean’s outta luck?” I asked resignedly.

“Not necessarily,” Jesse replied. “There’s that WAmazon Distribution Center several miles west of here, the one located along the Susquehanna River. It’s a good bet you might find the parts there, assuming it hasn’t been completely looted.”

While taking yet another detour wasn’t on the top of my list of things to do, I felt it was an option worth exploring. “I knew that was nearby but I never knew where it was exactly. Could you give us directions?”

“I can do you one better. There are a couple of locals, Charlotte and Sebastian, who are planning a supply run to the warehouse tomorrow. They’ve scouted it out before, but this will be their first real scavenging attempt. I’ll call them on the radio and see if they’re willing to take you with them.”

Meanwhile, Nate helped Ross fill a couple of gas cans from a large storage tank on the side of the building. As they stepped out in the light rain, Nate noticed the same black coating on the service center’s door handles.

“I saw this same coating back at the hotel,” Nate pointed out. “I’ve never seen it before. What is it?”

“It’s a liquid latex, or something like that,” Ross explained. “Jesse had several cans of the stuff. After we were turned into hoops we discovered that anything metal that we touched with the palm of our hands turned to rubber. That’s why we often wear gloves.” He lifts one paw and waves it, showing off the modified leather glove.

Nate remembered Sean telling us about this strange side-effect of his son’s transformation. In fact, it was one of the reasons Lucas left to live in Mausdale. He was more of a hindrance on the farm than a help. 

“No matter how careful we are, however,” Ross continued, “We sometimes forget and grab something made out of metal. The latex forms a barrier. Handles are the most likely thing to be touched, so covering them seemed like a good idea.”

Ross finished filling the first can and took the second from Nate.

“Tank’s getting low. I’ll tell Jesse, though I’m sure he’s aware.”

“Can he restock?” Nate asked.

“We have some people who will go and scout out any gas stations in the area for any remaining fuel. Lately, however, they have had to travel further and further. Soon, they might be using more gas on these trips than they can find.”

“What then? Is there a plan?”

[Is anyone trying to find a solution to the fuel issue? (even) Yes, and . . .   What type of fuel are they experimenting with?   Heroic/Superstition]

“Possibly. There is an old army vet in town who was a fuel engineer in the service. He knows a lot about manufacturing synthetic fuel and is certain he can build the necessary machinery, something he jokingly refers to as a ‘micro-refinery’. However, getting the necessary chemicals would be difficult.

“Fortunately, his tour of duty began back in the ‘30s when natural petroleum was still in wide use and he’s pretty certain he can adapt newer engines to work with the older fuel, though probably at reduced efficiency. But once again, finding crude oil is a problem. However, he has a plan for that as well. His commanding officer was from Pennsylvania and would tell stories about his family’s delvings in the oil industry. Supposedly, they owned a plot of land in the Little Mountain area, a little less than thirty miles northwest of here. Around the turn of the century they found oil under the plot and constructed a small, but productive oil well. Our local hero was never able to confirm the story, but he says he has no reason not to believe his C.O.. Furthermore, he thinks he has enough information to find the land. It’s a long shot, and even if he does find it there’s no guarantee the well still works, or that the family, if they still live there, will let him use it.”

“It doesn’t hurt to dream,” Nate philosophied.

“No, it doesn’t,” Ross agreed.

Nate picked up one of the filled cans and the two of them headed back to the truck.

I filled Nate in on the trip to the WAmazon warehouse when he came back in. Jesse ended up taking about half the carrots for himself and his family.  For the rest of the payment, he accepted our willingness to go on the supply run. That left us with the remainder of the carrots to split between the Thompsons and the Stokes. Jesse contacted Charlotte to confirm a meeting time and with that worked out we thanked him and drove back to the Best Western.

[Other oracle questions asked during this scene:

Is there any chance Jesse has anything to offer about the Alex/Ken situation? (Very doubtful, so I’ll do Bad with disadvantage) Yes or No, so No is the worse outcome.

Are there any members of the hoop patrol Alyssa and Nate met in the vicinity?  (Even) No. (do you have any idea how much I thought about this possible encounter?)

Does Jesse have a family? (Good) Yes.  Kids? (Even) Yes. How many? 1-3:one  4-5: two  6: three  Roll: 6 = three  Ages d20: 4, 5, 10

With a night in the hotel ahead I thought it would be a good time to handle experience and healing.

For experience over the past couple of days, the PCs were somewhere between what OmegaLite defines as Weaksause Adventuring (poke around a bit but avoid most encounters, 5xp) and Standard Adventuring (full exploration, interaction with others, combat, etc. 20xp), so I will give them 10xp each.  Alyssa 25xp   Nate 40 xp  This will allow Nate to advance to level 3, which I feel is fair since he’s been exploring longer than Alyssa.

At level 3, Nate gets to raise one Stat. That will be his Dex, giving him 9 and raising his modifier from -1 to 0 (this also raises his AC by 1).  His HP goes up by 10 ([d6]5x2). His skills now stand at:
Physical and Tech (Primary) +5
Subterfuge, Knowledge, Communications, Survival  +2

Each character raises 2xLevel HP for the night’s rest. Do they have a healing kit at the hotel? (Good) Yes, but . . .  it’s low on supplies and since Nate is almost healed on his own, Ross feels it’s best to keep it for an emergency.]


Scene 3 [Tension Lvl:3]:

For the third day in a row, we woke up to overcast skies. Unlike yesterday when we left the farm, the rain had not completely stopped. However, it had cut back to a mist with a light drizzle here and there. Leaving most of our possessions in the room and only packing our weapons and a few medical supplies we left on foot for the service center. Ross didn’t offer to drive us and Nate and I agreed the night before that we were not going to ask. We knew he had a list of chores to get done around the hotel and we didn’t want him to use precious gas on us. The only other thing we did was to ask Dale for a raincheck on our meeting with Jaci.

Like the night before, the roads were empty and the trip was uneventful.

Except for the dog, that is.  

[two encounter rolls were made for the trip, one indicated an encounter. Since I don’t have a table for encounters in town, I decided to draw a description. Frightfully/Active]

I heard a rustle in the brush off to our left just before a large german shepherd dashed out and headed for us. Quickly, I raised my spiked crowbar and made a swipe to scare it off. The animal slowed just enough to avoid the swing, but was not deterred. The beast lunged forward, teeth bared. I stepped aside and brought the bar down on the back of its neck. With a whine, it landed on the ground and did not move. Only then did I see Nate had his sonic rifle drawn.

“Is it dead?” he asked.

I could not see any chest movements which might indicate breathing. Cautiously, I knelt next to the shepherd and put a hand on its side. It felt still. I considered feeling in front of his snout for breath, but realized the stupidity of that should the dog still be alive. 

“I think it’s dead.” 

“It has a collar," Nate pointed out.

Crap! I didn’t notice that. I hope this wasn’t someone’s pet. Killing the family dog is not a great way to make new friends. I looked around to see if anyone noticed us. Down the road, I saw a couple of houses, but no activity. 

“Maybe it’s best if we keep quiet about this. Help me move him off the road.” 

Nate and I lifted the dog and dropped him several feet into the woods. For extra precaution, I covered him with some leaves and twigs. Then, taking another look to be sure no one could see us, we exited the woods and continued down the road to the service center.

[Alyssa failed a DC15 Survival check to scare off the dog. She won initiative, hit the dog on her first swing and did enough damage to lower its HP to 0. Is the dog breathing? (even) No. Does the dog have a collar? (even) Yes.]

I have no idea what Nate and I were expecting to see when we arrived, but it certainly wasn’t what we found. Parked in front of the service station was a vehicle that looked straight out of a post-apocalyptic movie. Under the circumstances, that was probably appropriate. It was a large van or utility vehicle, possibly military from the look of it. It sat high on four oversized tires and every inch was covered in a mish-mash of metal siding and steel plates. Wire mesh and metal grating covered the front windshield and headlights. Strapped to the top of the monstrosity was a 50-gallon drum and behind it a large, flat piece of metal, its purpose I could only guess at.

Standing next to the cobbled-together tank stood two hoops. One was brown and white and a little pudgy. The other was solid black and much thinner. 

“Well, you must be our passengers!” the brown hoop announced excitedly as she strode toward us, gloved hand outstretched. “I’m Charlotte,” she said, shaking our hands, “Andover there is Sebastian.” The black hoop gave us a half-hearty wave. “We were thrilled when we got the call from Jesse that we were gonna have some help on this mission.”

“I guess that’s our ride?” Nate said, nodding toward the armored vehicle.

“Hon, that ain’t just a ride. That’s the Armor Plated Turbo-Boosted Omega-Dillo!” Charlotte explained as she walked around the truck, pointing out its various features. The whole time Sebastian kept his head down and gently shook it in embarrassment.


[Image: tqsvAegM8aicS7kRhmOUHlR3pO4HiX4sN49iwVym...y0FA=w2400]
The Armor Plated Turbo-Boosted Omega-Dillo

“This beauty here is the baddest, most-feared vehicle you will find in these here parts. Its armor plating is so strong it’ll stop a charging poddog. It has steel-reinforced tires that can traverse any terrain. The solar panel on top runs all the electrical systems . . .” So that’s what that plate is. “. . . And it’s powered by a self-charging hybrid ‘Kenny’ engine with synthetic-fuel boosters for extra power when needed. Speaking of fuel, we can carry up to 60 extra gallons of fuel between the tank on top and the cans on back. Useful for those gas runs. Yep! The Omega-Dillo will get us there and back. Guaranteed!”

“I apologize for her enthusiasm,” Sebastian said, having stepped over to us to get out of his partner’s way while she showed off her pride and joy. “It’s just an S-Class military utility vehicle with scrap metal bolted to the sides. It was on display over at the National Guard Recruitment center and was mainly there to build interest in joining the army. Charlotte kinda borrowed it before the MSF took over the building.”

“Stop being so boring, Sebastian,” Charlotte scolded. “You know your riding around in her makes you feel more like a young buck. Now, c’mon let’s go.”
[In the process of rolling up specifics for Charlotte and Sebastian, an oracle check resulted in a special event. For the event I drew the Norse symbol Tiwaz [Image: kuEfXr_MDMZOnyq-M5Y5JIpFZ1PVjvi4FJoKcXlI...mg2w=w2400]. One of the interpretations of this symbol is “a just authority gets involved, or the characters are granted authority,” which leads to the following encounter.]

As we were climbing into Charlotte’s Omega-Dillo, a small electric car pulled up to the service center. It had a rack of lights on its roof and markings identifying it as originally some kind of police vehicle. However, the original emblem had been painted over in red letters reading “MSF.” A grey hoop steps out.

“Hello, Clint,” Jesse greeted the man. “What brings you down here early this morning?”

“Morning, Jesse.  I reckon it’s these two,” Clint explains, nodding in our direction. “I got a call from Phyllis about two strangers walking down Old Valley School Road.”

My heart sunk. Did someone see our encounter with the dog after all? 

“That’s Allyssa and Nate,” the mechanic introduced us. “Ross drove them down last night. They’re friends of Sean Murphy’s. In fact, they were just about to go with Charlotte and Sebastion on a supply run to the WAmazon warehouse.”

The grey hoop sauntered over to us and stuck out his hand. “Clint Morrow. I run the Mausdale Security Force.”

Nate takes his hand and gives it a shake. “Nathan Collier. Verna’s told us some nice things about you.”

“Oh! You know Verna Stokes as well? You two certainly get around.”

I relaxed, pretty sure he wasn’t there about the dog, or else he would have said something by now. “We met some of your force on the way into town. Kelli. Ernie. A couple of others.”

“You're those strangers!” Clint remarks, eyes rising in understanding. “Kelli told me about you.”

“Did she tell you she tried to run us off?”

“Yeah, she did. Sorry about that. She thinks she Mausdale’s guardian angel or something. Gave her a talking-to about that. Listen, don’t you worry about her. If Ross and Jesse can vouch for you, you must be good people. Risking your lives on a supply run sure doesn’t hurt, either.”

“It’s not totally altruistic,” Nate admits. “We’re getting stuff for Jesse so he can fix Murphy’s tractor.”

“Still, it shows character.  If any of my crew gives you any more trouble, you have them speak with me.”

Clint is about to leave when Nate asks one last question.

“Mr. Morrow, I don’t have time to get into it right now, but Alyssa and I are concerned about two of your town members. We believe some harm came to both of them and we are investigating what happened. Would you have time to talk with us when we get back?”

“The MSF is more of a peacekeeping force, not a team of investigators. Unless there is an incident going on or reason to believe something is about to happen, there’s really not much I think I have to offer. Now, if you turn up something that might cause trouble in the future, then maybe we can talk.”

I found it odd that Clint seemed rather uninterested in what had happened, or to whom, but without another word, the head of the Mausdale Security Force climbed back in his car and drove off. 

[Does Clint agree to talk to them about Alex when they return? (Even) No.]

==========================

ImageSource 1: Google Streetmaps;   ImageSource 2

Proverbs 26:17
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#12
CHAPTER 7: WAMAZON

System: OmegaLite20
Tools:  Gamemaster’s Apprentice Deck; Abandoned Warehouse Hex Flower

Setup:

A large portion of this post occurs within a warehouse. To simulate the search of the warehouse I will be using a homebrew tool based on Goblins Henchman’s Hex Flower Concept that I have entitled the Abandoned Warehouse Hex Flower.  The tool uses a hexagonal grid. Each hex indicates what is discovered as you move from one area of the warehouse to the next and movement is determined by rolling against a 2d6 key. Some of the things the character will encounter are security cameras and robots, shelves with products, halls, and offices. I will explain more details about the tool throughout the narrative, but you can download the full tool and instructions using the link above.

[Image: _MGe8V-C_2geip1__GwFtMfNsCFagRJGHztmMFUJ...2PUA=w2400]

Scene 1 [Tension Lvl:2]

Sebastian drove the Omega-Dillo and Charlotte sat in the passenger seat as we headed toward the WAmazon Distribution Warehouse. Nate and I sat behind them. We had one stop to make at a gas station he wanted to check out for fuel, but in the meantime, I pressed our new long-eared friends for information about themselves.

“So, are you married? Dating?”

“Hell, no!” Charlotte scoffed. “Before all this, we didn’t even talk. I’m nearly thirty years older than him and worked in road construction. Sebastian was a clerk at a hardware store.”

“Department manager at the Tool Depot in Dansville,” Sebastian clarified.

“Whatever. The only thing we had in common was the Suds & Such. My coworkers and I would go there after a shift to drink some beers and shoot some darts. Seb would sit in a corner with the college crowd, get drunk, and hit on Cindy, the Sud’s cute serving girl.”

Sebastian sighed. “We did more than that.”

“Sure you did, Hon. Sure you did,” assented, though not very convincingly.  “Then the bombs were dropped and lines were blurred. It was a matter of survival. Everyone worked together for the good of the town. At least at first. It didn’t take long for Sebastian and me to learn we both had a heart for scavaging. So we teamed up, acquired this fine vehicle here, and started our own Search and Salvage operation.

“So to answer your question, Alyssa. No, we weren’t a ‘thing’. Still, once you’re all covered in fur, who the flip cares? Just about anything goes. Doesn’t it, Seb?”

Charlotte punctuated her remark with a gentle punch to Sebastian’s shoulder, the black-furred hoop just shook his head in embarrassment.

“Oh thank goodness! We’re here!” Sebastian cried out when he spotted the abandoned gas station, relieved to be ending the current conversation.

The place appeared to be locally owned and not associated with any of the big chains. It had four pumps and a small store. Charlotte and Sebastian completely ignored the store. They claimed it was because we were heading for a super warehouse, but I suspect the broken-down door indicating the place has already been ransacked played a big part in that decision.

Their main purpose was to check the underground tanks for any remaining fuel. However, Sebastian’s hopes were dashed when he saw the locks on the lids were broke open. A quick check confirmed they had been drained dry. [Are the tanks locked down? (even) No   Is there still fuel in the tanks?  (Even) No]

Scene 2 [Tension Lvl:3]

Ten minutes later we were pulling up to the WAmazon warehouse. Instead of parking near the front door, Sebastian drove around the building until he spotted a particular side door. “This is the entrance we used last time we were here,” he explained. “I suspect there is a lot of security at the main entrance, so it’s best to avoid it.”

Turning around in her seat, Charlotte gave a brief explanation of what to expect. 

“All the power is still running inside. At least it was the first time we were here. I’m sure it’s hooked up so a solar generator. Makes sense as they would want power to operate and run security systems under any circumstances. What that means is it is a fully operational warehouse, including the security cameras and robots. You get caught on camera, a robot comes after you. It’s that simple. The few we saw were equipped with a claw for close-up combat and a laser for longer ranges. So we get in, do our shopping, and get out. We take out cameras as we see ‘em and possibly a robot or two.  Got it?”

We indicated we did and exited the van. Sebastian and Charlotte were each armed with a long lead pipe and a rifle. In addition, Charlotte carried a laser pistol sidearm. All of us carried empty sacks and backpacks which wouldn’t hold much and I wondered how many trips we would have to make in and out to get everything we needed. 

Charlotte: 
HP:19  AC:13  Init: +1
ATK: (Pipe [+3 to hit, 1d8+1 dmg]; Rifle [+3 to hit, 1d8 dmg];  Laser Pistol [+3 to hit,
         3d6 dmg]
Skills: +3  (+6 Communication)   Gear: healing kit, 1 extra power cell

Sebastian: 
HP:20  AC:13  Init: +1
ATK: (Pipe [+3 to hit, 1d8+1 dmg]; Rifle [+3 to hit, 1d8 dmg]
Skills: +3  (+6 Physical)   Gear: healing kit
 
As expected, the door was open and we slipped inside. I’ll admit, I was curious as to what we might find. My biggest concern was the security robots. What did they look like? Were they boxy or sleek, speedy or lumbering, fast or slow?  Turns out I didn’t have to wait long to find out. We took a step around the corner of a row of tall shelves and in the aisle between it and the next row stood a security robot.

[/font]The robot had a humanoid form, with a torso, head, two arms, and legs. While its chest, back, arms and legs were covered by white protective plating, the android’s wiring, gears, and joints could be seen through gaps between the plates. Its head was a mass of tubes and sensors dominated by a chrome cylinder that contained a single camera lens that rotated from side to side. As Charlotte explained in the van, one arm ended in a multi-pronged claw and the other in what certainly appeared to be the business end of a laser.  The thing glided across the floor as though the bottom of its feet were fitted with wheels. 

[Image: t0U06PMl2TPQOG2PUa-vsDlUCtllS0H9043JQKa7...S1Hg=w2400]
The Robot Had A Humanoid Form

Move 1 - Direction 5 - Security Robot, 50% chance of useful product


[Before the group can search for loot, they must deal with the security robot. At the start of exploration, there is a 100% chance that a robot will be encountered when you enter a robot hex. That chance decreases as robots are destroyed. PC’s can choose to attack or try to sneak by (DC15 Subterfuge check). I’m just going to handle being seen and sneaking by with a single roll checked against the PC with the worst sneak stats (Nathan, in this case). Failure means the robot engages in combat.]

The security bot spotted us immediately -- not a surprise as we made no attempt at caution -- and, before we could even pull out our weapons, had closed within melee distance. [Sneak: 8+2 subterfuge = 10 fail. Is the robot within melee distance? (even) Yes.]

Security Robot General Stats: 
AC: 15  HP: 3d8+15 (will roll for each encounter)  Init: +1  Weapon: Claw +6 (DMG: d6+4), Laser +3 (3d6)

This Robot: 28 HP

Initiative: Sebastian (19); Alyssa (15); Robot (9); Charlotte (6); Nathan (5)]

RD 1:

While we were fumbling with our weapons, the bot reached out with its claw and grabbed Sebastian’s arm, giving it a wicked twist before he could slip free. Nate was the only one in our group to get in a shot. Making sure the muzzle of his sonic rifle was in front of us, he let off a shot as soon as Sebastian was clear. The blast caught the mechanical monster in the side and spun him half was around. [S, A, and C missed. Robot targeted and hit S: 18+6=24 for 9 damage. N automatically hits with his sonic rifle (except on a roll of 1). Robot takes 7 dmg.]

RD 2:

Sebastian and Charlotte swung at the bot with their pipes, but the thing was fast and avoided their blows. I tried to reach into its wires with my crossbar, but all I found was armor plating. Unfortunately, in the frenzy, Charlotte took a strike in her side from the claw and stumbled back. [Rob: 8+6=14 hit for 6 damage] Nate remained close to the group to keep the spread of his sonic blast tight and waited for a shot that would only hit the robot and not us. He found that moment right after Charlotte fell back and the robot took a shot square in the chest. [Automatic hit for 11 damage]

RD 3:

To heck with this!” Sebastian exclaimed as tossed his pipe aside and swung his rifle around. “Alyssa, move!” I didn’t question him but backed off immediately giving him a clear shot. It appeared the shot hit but went through the exposed area of the neck, but I couldn’t be sure. [S hit for 1 damage]

Nate took the “clear-shot” opportunity as well and gave the robot another sonic blast. [8 damage. Robot at 2 hp.] While that staggered him, it didn’t keep his claw from connecting again with Charlotte. [9 damage. Charlotte is at 4hp]

RD 4: 

By now the security robot was severely damaged and I was ready to end this. Gripping the straight-end of my crowbar like a baseball bat, I swung and aimed for the head. The assembly spun half-way around, severing several of the wires and tubes. Sparks flew out as the machine gave one final “whir” and slumped to the floor. [3 damage]

Geez, Alyssa. I nearly shot you.” Sebastion had taken and second shot as I was moving in to strike. [miss] 

I never heard, felt, or saw the shot. “I guess it’s a good thing you missed.”

“I hate to be the one to say it,” Charlotte said as we patched up our wounds with the B.A. heal in our kits, “but if all the security robots are as tough as that one, this might be harder than we thought.”

“Now we know what to expect,” Nate offered. “Maybe we can be better prepared.” 

“We can start by being more observant when going around corners,” I offered.

[Healing Kits allow each character to bind 1d6 hps.  Charlotte regains 1hp and Sebastian regains 4]

A quick search through the odds and ends that were still on the shelves revealed nothing useful. [Product Check: 73 (target 50 or less)] 

“I guess that was to be expected,” Charlotte said disappointed. “Being so close to the door.”

“Hopefully we’ll find better stuff further in,” Sebastian said. 

While the others searched I took a moment to view my surroundings. Like most warehouses, the WAmazon distribution center appeared to be one big open room, at least where the product was stored. The ceiling was about 50’ high with long LED lights providing illumination (another sign the building was hooked up to solar generators). I couldn’t see far due to the high product shelves.  Each rack had four to five levels, depending on the spacing between each shelf, and the aisles between the towering racks were 15’ wide. While the floors were surprisingly clean, I did spot some evidence of previous battles on the vertical shelving support beams in the form of some caked blood and bits of what I assumed were flesh. My guess was that the facility had housekeeping units that kept the place tidy and picked up any trash on the floor, including bodies and blood spills. Perhaps they weren’t programmed for walls and shelves.

“Ready to move on, Alyssa?” Nate’s voice snapped me back to our current mission.

“Yeah. Let’s go.”

Move 2 - Direction 5 - Security Camera

Instead of heading toward the center of the warehouse, we backtracked to the wall end of the aisle to travel between the outer wall and the racks.  Sebastian led the party and when we got to the end of the shelves he put up a hand, signaling us to wait. He poked his head around the corner and scanned up and down for more robots. While he didn’t see any of those, he did notice a security camera mounted on the wall, rotating back and forth.

[When you enter a hex with a security camera, you have a 100% of encountering a camera at the start of the game.  As cameras are destroyed, that percentage drops. You have a couple of options with cameras. You can do nothing, be seen by them, and alert security robots. You can try to sneak past. Or you can try to disable the camera.

In this instance, Sebastian will attempt to shoot the camera with his rifle. First, he must make a successful sneak roll to avoid being seen. Regardless of the outcome, he then needs to make a successful range attack against A.C. 12.  A hit disables the camera. If he is seen while shooting, a check needs to be made to determine how many security robots arrive before the party can leave the area.]

The black hoop tried to stay out of view until the camera’s lens panned away. When it did, he stepped into the clear, aimed, and fired. The satisfied grin on his face told us he got it. [DC15 Sneak roll: 19+3=22   ATK: 9+3=12]

Move 3 - Direction 7 - 70% Product chance

Product check: 67 Success.

[Per the Hex Flower mechanics, if there is a specific item a group is searching for (in this case the repair parts for Sean’s tractor), there is a 5% chance that the found product is the found items. Each time product is found, that chance increases by 5% until the specific item is found.

If the found item is not the specific item, I will roll on a table to determine who might have an interest in the item (i.e. Hotel, Restaurant, Service station, PC’s, random item, etc.). If I roll “random item” on the previous table, I will be using randomicle.com to pick a random item from Amazon as inspiration.

Target product check: 36 - fail    Item roll: Random   Randomicle Pick: Sneakers]

We carefully rounded the corner, weapons drawn and ready for another security robot. Thankfully, the aisle was empty. Also thankfully, there were several boxes on the shelves. Each was a little over a foot long and half as wide. Sebastian pulled one off the shelf and peeked inside.

“Cool! We hit the jackpot!”

“What is it?” I asked eagerly. “Med-Packs? Power cells? Twinkies?”

He pulled out a grey sneaker with white highlights and a familiar swoosh down the side. “Nike Traction Pros!”

“Shoes? They won’t even fit on your feet.”

“Not just shoes,” he corrected. “Traction Pros. These were the hottest item before the war. Cost nearly $300 a pair. And no, you’re right, hoops can’t wear ‘em. But the humans do. And footwear is in high demand.”

“There’s a bunch here,” Charlotte noticed. “We should take as many as we can make space for, but that’s going to be a lot of trips back to the van.”

“What about that?” Nate asked, pointing at a contraption several feet down the aisle.

Basically, it looked like a big tub on wheels. It was about 5’ long, 3’ high, and 3’ plus high. On one end was a control box that housed its computer brain. Next to it was a retractable arm. Based on what I’d read, these bins are controlled from a master control center. They are told what to retrieve and then they traverse the warehouse and use its arm to grab items from the shelves.

“That’s perfect,” Sebastian said and walked over to retrieve it. He couldn’t get it to move, but that didn’t phase him. He just bent over, made some adjustments to release the wheels from the motorized controls, and then tried again. This time it rolled easily. We all helped tossing in boxes until it was nearly half full. 

[Is there a bin in the vicinity? (Bad, they should be in charging storage)  Yes]

“If we can find the control center, maybe I can hack the system,” Nate suggested. “Then we can just use the bins to collect the items we need.”

“Good idea,” Charlotte agreed. “Assuming the place isn’t guarded by an army of robots.”

 Move 4 - Direction 7 - Security Robot (Still 100% chance of encounter)

As we worked we made our way down the aisle. When we reached the end I volunteered to scout ahead. [Alyssa has the best subterfuge stats (+5 total), so it makes sense that she will scout ahead] Glancing around the corner I spotted a single security robot [30hp] heading our way. Luckily, it didn’t see me and that gave me an idea. I quickly told the others and suggested that Nate take the first shot before the rest of us jumped in to attack.

[Since Alyssa passed the sneak check, I gave the group surprise and the opportunity to make one attack unopposed.]

As soon as the robot came into view, Nate fired and caught the robot square in the cone of his blast. [11 DMG] The thing stopped and spun toward us. Immediately, the two hoops and I jumped in, pipes and crowbar swinging. Sebastian and I were first, inadvertently blocking Charlotte’s way. However, we both landed solid blows on the robot. One extra strike on its head with my crowbar and the battle was over. [After the surprise round, the robot only had 8hp. One additional hit by Alyssa for 11hp ended the battle before the robot could even attack.]

Move 5 - Direction 9 - Camera, 50% product chance

We hurriedly rolled the cart to the next aisle over, fully aware that we were exposed to several other aisles.  We turned the corner to get out of sight but failed to see the security camera hanging from the ceiling. Once we did, Sebastian fired a poorly aimed shot, hoping to take it out before it could alert any robots but missed. [failed sneak and ATK]

We’ve got company,” Nate called back to us. [100% chance of alerting 1-2 robots]

Two security robots glided toward us from two different directions. We retreated down the aisle to give us some protection on our sides before turning to face the approaching robots. [Robot A: 29hp  Robot B: 29hp]  We peppered them with sonic, rifle, and handgun fire, but they kept approaching, firing back with their lasers. Damn thing caught me in leg while another shot barely missed Charlotte. [Each robot took some damage. A was hit for 14 damage. I asked the oracle if each robot moved into melee range.]

The bot that targeted me stopped short, which really raised my ire. I really wanted to bash in its processors with my crowbar. Instead, I got to watch with satisfaction as Nate blasted it back with his sonic rifle. [13hp damage] Sensing the greater threat, the machine switched its aim to Nate and returned the fire. [hits Nate for 11hp]

Meanwhile, the other robot continued to roll toward the party. Sparks flew from some of its wiring as Charlotte shot at it with her rifle. [5hp damage] as I readied my crowbar. It might not be the robot who shot me, but that didn’t matter. As long as I could take my anger out on someone . . . or something. I swung. It countered with its claw. The blow knocked me aside, but not before I was able to put a big dent in its chest. [Robot took 3hp damage; A took 6 damage]

While Charlotte and I wrestled with the bot in our midst, Sebastian fired several rifle shots at the other enemy, missing each time. Finally, he gave up and pulled out his pipe to help us. This was fine, as Nate was handling that robot with ease. It appeared to be having trouble with its laser [Nat 1, Crit fail], leaving itself as an open target for Nate’s wide sonic cone. He hit with two blasts, the second sending the robot flying backward and separating its legs and arms from its torso. [Nate rolled a Nat 20 on his power cell check, so I counted it as a critical hit.]

Charlotte pulled out her own pipe and joined Sebastian and me bashing the last robot to bits. Despite their joining the battle, the bot continued to focus its attacks on me. First, it grabbed my arm after I hit it in the leg. Sebastian struck its arm, giving me a chance to get free. However, as I prepared to charge back in, the robot had the nerve to make a sneak attack with its laser arm, striking me in my right temple. 

Everything went dark.

[End of Chapter]

[Note: One of the oracle checks I made to determine if the robots moved into melee range resulted in a special event.  
Norse Symbol: Isaz[Image: 262DIRjOikrfSfIGMO9TaT4Q16ly8hZY8RRBKKNb..._hug=w2400]

Description: Ice/Frustration: Mental blocks; confusion needing to be unraveled; cannot progress until more knowledge is gained.
In-Game: A puzzle, riddle, or confusing situation casts doubt on what the next
step must be. A question must be answered, a guide must be found, or something similar.

I have some ideas of how to apply this later in the warehouse exploration.  Tension reset to 1 for the remainder of this scene.]

===============
Imagesource1  Imagesource2   Imagesource3

Hosea 13:15b
Reply
#13
Hey everyone. Just wanted to give a quick update.

I know I've been slow on posting updates. In fact, the last chapter was posted nearly two months ago.  While nothing earth-shaking has been going on, I have been rather busy with life, work, and other projects on which I work, including editing a parody music video my wife made for one of her work projects. In the background, however, I've been moving this story slowly along. I'm probably over halfway through playing the next chapter, so with any luck, I might be able to post again before the end of the month. Additionally, since it is October, it's time to revisit my Quill: Shadow & Ink series. Depending on how many letters it takes to finish the scenarios, I will probably start posting those around mid-October and time them to end on or close to Halloween. You can read those over in the "Unplugged" section of the forums, starting with this post.

Hope all is well with everyone. Hope to post again soon.
Reply
#14
I'm catching up on reading and I came across where you wrote, "Nate philosophied." I was wondering if philosophied was a word you made up but I was surprised it was a real word. In fact it is perfectly cromulent.
Reply
#15
Hey, good to know. The real story is that I most likely left out the "Z" (or "S" if you prefer) in "philosophized", but spell-check didn't pick it up since the other word was legit. Also, I was totally unaware of the "cromulent" reference, so your post led me to that interesting pop culture tidbit. Thanks.
Reply
#16
CHAPTER 8: LAVATORIES AND LOCKERS

System: OmegaLite20 
Tools: Gamemaster’s Apprentice Deck; Abandoned Warehouse Hex Flower 

Scene 1 [Tension Lvl:2]:

[Image: Xj3ps15bpb8JlfrFmkjkAW9EbuehyUOjU6lm_j6u...jmHw=w2400]

Damn, my head hurt!  And why did it feel like the world was spinning?

“Hey, guys! I think Alyssa is waking up.”

I opened my eyes to see a giant black rabbit looking down at me.

“Want a Hershey Bar?” The rabbit held out the familiar candy bar, its brown wrapper peeled back about a third of the way, one corner already bitten off.

None of it made sense. Was I Alyssa In Wonderland? I closed my eyes and shook my head to clear the cobwebs. When I opened them again a young bearded man was looking at me. Nate. I remembered his name was Nate.

And the rabbit wasn’t a rabbit. It was a hoop. Sebastian.

I took another look at the partially eaten candy bar. “Can’t chocolate kill a rabbit?” I asked groggily, but with a fair amount of snark.

“You’re thinking about dogs,” Sebastian replied unfazed. “Which gives me an idea. Hey, Charlotte. Maybe we should try leaving a box of these near that camp of arks west of town. If they find it and eat them . . . no more arks?”

It took me a moment to sort out what Sebastian was saying, but eventually, I recalled that “arks” were similar to hoops, except instead of rabbit-people they were dog-people. Just one more bit of surprisingly now-useful holo-vis science show trivia.

“That has to be about the dumbest idea you’ve had, Seb,” responded Charlotte, Sebastian’s brown and white hoop partner.

Sebastian’s face looked hurt . . . or did he have gas. It’s really hard to tell what a rabbit is thinking.

Slowly, I sat up with Nate’s help. Instead of the warehouse floor, the party was resting on one of the raised shelving units. Charlotte was peeking over the edge to spot any approaching security bots while trying to stay far enough back so as not to be easily seen. Nate explained that as soon as I was knocked unconscious by the security bot, Charlotte gave it a good whack with her pipe, permanently disabling it. He shot out the camera and the group lifted me onto the shelf, climbed up themselves, and tried to stay out of sight until they could apply some first aid and wait for me to recover.

[In the last episode, Alyssa took a hit that dropped her to -3 hit points. Charlotte immediately hit the bot for enough damage to end the battle. Omega Lite 20 appears to be very lenient regarding death. If a character is reduced to less than zero hit points they are unconscious, but not dead. Any damage below 0 is counted against their STR stat. Once a character takes enough damage to exceed their STR, they are pronounced dead. However, per the rules as written, there is no mechanic to reduce a character’s hit points except by damage from an attack. Unlike similar rule systems, PC’s in Omega Lite do not automatically bleed hit points while they are below 0. Therefore, unless an enemy targets an unconscious character that is not a threat or uses an Area of Attack weapon, the downed PC is almost certain to recover as long as one party member survives. To me, this seems a little OP and a bit unrealistic. To counter this I am planning on creating a “death table” like I’ve used in other games but, for now, I will be following the standard rules.

The last hex roll from the previous chapter stated there was 50% chance they would find useful items in this area. They made the successful roll and found a random item, which, per randomical.com turned out to be chocolate.

Alyssa gains 1 hp for regaining consciousness and 6 for a healing kit roll. Everyone else makes a healing kit roll as well. Per oracle, no security robots pass by while they wait.]

I was a bit beat up after that last battle, so we all agreed that it might be best if I try to avoid hand-to-hand combat for a while. I did have my pistol, but Charlotte offered me her rifle, as it was more powerful and we had more ammo for it than my own gun. She still had her laser pistol which, if we’re being honest, actually could do more damage than the weapon she gave to me. We climbed down and continued to search the warehouse.

For the next half hour or so, we wandered through the warehouse shooting out cameras, dispatching robots, and picking up product. The first bot we ran into after leaving our shelf put up a bit of a fight and Charlotte took a laser shot that knocked her unconscious.  After a few minutes rest and a healthy dose of B. A. Heal, she was fine and we continued.

As we encountered more cameras and bots we got into a rhythm and were able to take them down quickly, sometimes before the bots got close enough to attack with their claws. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Along the way, we filled our bin with various clothing items and small exercise equipment. Unfortunately, we still hadn’t stumbled across any fuel filters or vehicle parts and our healing supplies were being used up. In fact, we only had enough items left to form what might be considered a single kit.

[Quick summary of the next several warehouse moves made using the Abandoned Warehouse Hex Flower:

Move 6 - Direction 3 - Security Robot
Failed sneak check but PCs dispatch the robot in 2 rounds, but not before Charlotte is dropped to -6 hp. She survives, however.

Move 7 - Direction 6 - Security Camera
Nate takes it out without being seen.

Move 8 - Direction 6 - 70% Product
They find some clothes.

Move 9 - Direction 6 - Security Robot (only 75% chance of encounter due to the reduction in the total number of robots) They do see a robot, but are able to pass undetected.

Move 10 - Direction 4 - Camera and 50% product.
Camera is disabled but not before the group is seen. One robot arrives but is taken down in two rounds.

HEALING KITS: After healing the characters following this battle I began to think about the practical aspects of the healing kits. OmegaLite 20 rules state nothing about the number of uses of a healing kit. It just says that if you have a healing kit you can heal 1d6 after a battle. While it’s reasonable to expect that these kits can be replenished from time to time if a character has access to loose materials, it also can be assumed that they will run out if not replenished. Already in the warehouse they have healed several times without finding any additional medical equipment. So, I’m going to start making oracle checks for each kit to see if it is exhausted. It’s assumed that Sebastian and Charlotte each have a healing kit. The next two checks (Does the kit still have supplies?) will be at (even) odds, beyond that will be at (bad).  Three of the kits were depleted, leaving the group with only one.

Move 11 - Direction 11 - Security Robot (75% chance)  No robot.

Move 12 - Direction 11 - Camera (75% chance) No camera

Move 13 - Direction 6 - Camera (75% chance) and 50% product
There is a camera and it spots the group, but Nate is able to shoot it out. The robot that arrives is destroyed in 1 round.  No healing to conserve kit.  They find some exercise equipment. ]

“We really need to find first aid supplies,” Sebastian says. “Either that or leave and try again another day.”

“Nate and I don’t have time to wait,” I responded. “Let’s keep going.”

We had worked our way across the warehouse and were now approaching the wall opposite where we originally entered. At the end of the aisle we were currently traveling down was a metal door. Next to the door was a keypad, suggesting it was locked. Still, we had to try. I grabbed the handle and pulled. Yep, it was locked.

Move 14 - Direction 11 - Hallway

[In this case, it seemed likely that you would need to pass through a door to enter the hallway. At the end of the last chapter, I generated a special event that indicated there would be some type of puzzle or riddle blocking the party from advancing. I am resolving that event now with the keypad lock. Figuring WAmazon security would be tight, I drew a difficulty on the Gamemasters Apprentice Deck and added it to a base DC10 to hack. The result was DC19. Eeek!]

“Do we want to try to get through?” Nate asked.

“It would be nice to get out of this warehouse for a while,” Charlotte admits.

“Maybe we can get lucky and find the controls to shut down warehouse security,” I added.

Nate dug his tech kit out of his pack, removed a small buttoned box, and attached a few wires to the keypad. Several minutes pass.

“Any luck?” I ask.

“This security is tight. Not surprising since WAmazon is known to be a leader in adopting the latest and best technology. I’m afraid my descrambler might not be updated for this.”

“I thought you were a Net Security expert?”

“That’s my job.”

“Not very good at it, are you? I mean, you couldn’t even fix Sean’s old desktop unit.”

Nate continued to work on the keypad, but his voice grew agitated. “I explained, it was old tech and I didn’t have the right software with me.”

“That tech was too old. This tech is too new. Let me try!” I pushed him aside and mashed four random numbers with my index finger.  Next, I tried my birthday: 0531. Nothing.

“Sebastian, what’s your street address?”

Confused but compliant he responded with 140 Thistle Way. I tried 1400 in vain.

“Charlotte, give me a random number between 1000 and 9999.”

“Uhh . . . 6892.”

No luck.

I step back. “Yeah, we’re not cracking this.”

“Uh, guys,” Charlotte called out. “We’ve got company!”

[Nate’s hack attempt resulted in a 10+5 Tech Skill = 15. Fail. Just for fun, I decided to give each character one chance to “brute force” the keypad, needing an unmodified 20 to succeed. All fail.

In the meantime, I made a 2-in-6 chance for a wandering security bot. Result was a 2. All PC’s passed a DC10 perception check to notice it coming from a distance.]

At the far end of the aisle we just came down, a single security bot glided in our direction, laser pointed and prepared to fire. (By the way, I checked a downed security earlier, and they do have retractable wheels on the bottom of their feet.) We pulled out our weapons but Charlotte already had her laser pistol honed in on her target. When the unit was halfway to us she fired, hitting the thing right in the groin. To be clear, the bots have no sensitive anatomy so I doubt her aim had anything to do with female aggression. What it did have in that area, however, was a gap between its chest and leg plates and Charlotte’s shot slid right in. The thing jerked suddenly to the right and careened into the shelves while white-blue currents snaked over its entire body, accompanied by a few sparks and wisps of smoke. [Charlotte Critically hit and robot critically missed.]

Nate and Sebastian continued to fire on the bot while it tried to correct itself. [Both hit, knocking the bot down to 2 hp. Does the bot move into melee range? (Even) No.] The bot moved back into the center of the aisle but stays put. Instead of coming closer, it raised its laser for another shot. Before it could fire, Charlotte gave it another blast with her pistol, sending the machine sprawling backward into a motionless heap.

“Take that ya giant piece of robo-crap!”

Okay, maybe Charlotte does have a bit of female aggression she needs to work out.

“Give me your crowbar,” Nate ordered and I complied.

Returning to the metal door, he jammed the curved end in between the door and the frame and began to pull.

“Be careful,” I said. “It took me a while to weld those spikes onto it. I don’t want to have to make another one.”

He relaxes. “That door’s not budging anyway. There must be something really important in there.”

“Perhaps,” Charlotte agreed, “But we’ve spent too much time here already. Let’s go.”  Without waiting for a response she moved on.

[Physical check for Nate to pry open the door.  DC15  7+2STR + 5 Physical skill = 14  Fail.  Per an oracle roll they decide to move on.]

Scene 2 [Tension Lvl:3]:

Move 15 - Direction 10 - Hallway w/Security Camera, which means another door to get through.

Charlotte wasn’t wandering aimlessly. Instead, she had noticed a set of double doors several feet further along the wall. Like the previous door, this one was locked with a keypad. Nate gave hacking it a shot, but still could not find the correct code. [Random DC15, however, Nate check was only 14]  Once again, he borrowed my crowbar (so help me if he breaks it) and tried prying the doors open. Sebastian helped and the two of them worked together. Perhaps it was the strength of two people or the fact they were pulling against two slightly moveable objects instead of one movable object and a solid wall, but this time the lock gave.  The door opened slightly before I pressed my palm against them to stop them. [DC15 strength test. 10 + 2 STR + 5 Physical + 1 Sebastian help = 18 Success]

Kneeling next to the doors I pull one open slightly and peered inside. I couldn’t see much, but it appeared to be a small antichamber, or hub, to several other doors. Just below the ceiling line, I saw the expected security camera. Unlike the others we have encountered that pan from side to side, this one appeared to be stationary, pointed permanently at this door. I hoped it hadn’t detected our attempts to break through and so far there were no signs of approaching bots. [DC20 not to trigger camera while prying the door open against Nate Subterfuge: 19+2=21]

After a brief discussion, we decided that I, from my low position, would throw the door open while Nate shoots the camera. With any luck, we can knock it out before it alerts security. I pushed. He shot. Pieces of camera showered down as we all quickly ran into the room and closed the door.

We all held our breaths as I tried to peek through the space between the two doors. I couldn’t see much more than light, but after about fifteen seconds I saw a shadow pass by. Listening closely, I could hear the faint whir of the robot's mechanics. We waited another minute and the bot did not try to open the door. We couldn't be sure it wasn’t just sitting on the other side waiting for us, but we at least felt comfortable enough to explore the other doors.

[The narrative here doesn’t exactly match the assumptions I made while actually playing the game, but Nate rolled a Nat 1 on his sneak check before shooting the camera, so it doesn’t really matter. Security was alerted. However, due to the reduced number of security bots there was only a 60% chance that one would arrive before the group could leave the area. The check was 68 and the group was able to get away.

At this point I put my GM hat on, determined some likely options for what might be behind these doors and made a random roll each time they opened a door, using each option only once.]

We assumed the door opposite the warehouse door led to the main business portion of the building: offices, reception, etc.. We decided to leave that to last and instead went through the door on the right. Remember that joke about the song from the twentieth century that everyone mishears the lyrics. The one that people thought said “There’s a bathroom on the right?” Well, in this instance it wasn’t much of a joke, as we found ourselves in a bathroom, and a pretty nice one at that.

The room was large and clean with grey tiled walls. To the right, as you entered, was a counter with long, white porcelain sinks. Each sink had enough faucets to accommodate four people. Mounted on the wall behind them were several counter-to-ceiling mirrors. Opposite the sinks was a row of privacy stalls. The stall closest to the entrance appeared a bit larger and I peeked in. Mounted on the wall were several urinals. I never quite understood urinals. Men can use a bowl at home. Why do they need a urinal in public? To me, they just seemed like a monopolization of space that could have been used for more unisex stalls. Equal inconvenience when crowded.

[Image: 25sP10nIQBXle3h1nJrqFsqJN_QmSuAjLs7Vjb3Q...8h-w=w2400]
We found ourselves in a bathroom

I started walking down the row of stalls, peering into each on the off chance there might be something useful inside. When I passed the third door I heard a sound like someone emptying a pitcher of water. I looked back and took a quick headcount. Charlotte. Sebastian. Where’s Nate? I looked at the door to the first stall.

“Nate! Are you taking a leak?”

“Yeah! I’ve been holding it for the past two aisles.”

Charlotte and Sebastian looked at me with . . . with . . . hell, I don’t know what kind of expressions they had. They just looked at me.

“I sorta have to go, too,” Sebastian said.

I looked at Charlotte. She nodded.

“Okay, everybody,” I gave in. “Five-minute potty break.”

Five minutes later everyone was done and back in the center of the bathroom. Sebastian was stuffing a trailing end of toilet paper into his sack.

“What?” he asked when I gave him a questioning look. “This stuff is priceless back in town. You don’t think I’m going to just leave it here.”

To be fair, he’s probably right. You might recall, my parents kept a well-stocked basement and Woodville was near several big stores and a shopping mall. I never had to struggle to find a roll of toilet paper. But I can imagine that in a town as small as Mausdale it wouldn't take too long to go through the supply, especially if they were cut off from Danville.

We scavenged the remaining rolls and left the room.

Scene 3 [Tension Lvl:4]

The next door we went through was the one across from the bathroom. After carefully peeking through to make sure there were no security cameras, we entered a roomy locker room. Like the bathroom, it was very clean and plain. There was little furniture other than some benches. The walls were lined with dual rows of white lockers. Each locker had a keypad. Just glancing aground, there appeared to be about 50 or so lockers.

[Image: JQIY-W0oaAX1NgJdxFbxPK2_m5n1eXmrOig5Bivj...le2Q=w2400]
We entered a roomy locker room

“These must be lockers for the warehouse employees,” Nate said. “And that must’ve been the main employee bathroom.”

“I wonder if there is anything left in the lockers,” mused Charlotte.

“There’s one way to find out,” Sebastian said and began pulling a few open. The first several were unlocked, but eventually, he came to one whose door would not budge.

“I can try to hack it,” Nate offered. “But I don’t know if we want to take the time trying to pick every lock in this room.

“Wait!” Sebastian said, holding up his gloved hand. “Charlotte, we’ve been so careful for so long we’ve forgotten what we can do.”

Charlotte twitched her whiskers while Sebastian removed the glove with his other hand. Then he pressed his bare paw-hand against the edge of the locker next to the keypad. After a second or two, the metal began to flex. He wiggled his fingers into the space between the door and the side of the locker and the gap easily grew wider. He pulled and the door came open.

His touch had turned the metal into rubber, just like Sean had told us.

“Wish you would have remembered that sooner,” Nate said. “It would have come in handy getting through those doors.”

“Sorry,” Sebastian apologized. “We are so careful as to not destroy everything we touch, I guess we just condition ourselves to forget we can.”

[To be fair, I totally forgot Hoops have this ability. I don’t fully understand why they do, but it’s in the rules. When I finally did remember, I had a similar reaction to what I wrote for Nate. This would have made getting through doors a lot easier.]

“Turning metal into rubber,” I chimed in. “Nice trick, but I prefer my own method.” I rammed the straight end of my crowbar into the gap near the lock on another locker and yanked hard. The lock broke and the door flew open. This crapped-up world we found ourselves in was really bringing out my aggressive side and I rather liked it. I always wanted to be a badass like the heroes in the action books I read. Now I had my chance. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it will get me into trouble someday, but for now I’ll go with it.

The hoops “melted” the doors and I pried them open until we had investigated every locker and scavenged their contents.

We found a rather random collection of items ranging from clothing (most notably a pair of boots that fit me perfectly) to grooming items, such as a small mirror. One of the oddest items was an empty propane bottle. Why would someone bring a propane bottle to work?

Probably the two most useful items we found were a gun scope and a bottle of pills. For all we knew, the scope was stolen from the warehouse (unlikely, due to all the security), but that didn’t concern us. Sebastian tried attaching it to his rifle and it fit. [Adds +2 to ranged rifle attacks] The pills, according to the label, were sustenance pills. Basically, one pill contained the amount of nutrition equal to a full day’s meals. They might not be as satisfying as a juicy hamburger, but they will keep you going when food is scarce. The bottle was nearly full and we agreed to divide them up once we were back in Mausdale.

[Total haul from the lockers: A jacket, Gun Scope, Orange Neutralizing Pigment (hair coloring), a small tool kit, a bottle of water, Boots (that fit Alyssa), empty propane bottle, fire extinguisher, calculator, small mirror, bottle of 99 sustenance pills, another pair of soft boots that fit no one in the party.

While checking to see if the soft boots fit anyone I drew a random event.

Norse symbol: Naudiz[Image: Fs0XI7JldGqsWKWupw5YQAAoeLMCVwrLvgmCCVY2...jacw=w2400]Partial GMA Description: Need/Distress - a trial or test, discovery that your almost-complete quest requires an extra step or backtracking.  I know what this will be if and when the appropriate moment arises.

Tension resets for the next scene.]


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Matt. 6:19-21

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