Iron Gods

Morgrym's Sacrifice

The party considered the door before them. It probably concealed interesting secrets like a room full of spying monitors. It needed a green keycard for entry, and the party didn't have one. Oh well. The party considered stopping their invasion of the Hellion cult's base to rest. Nobody was hurt, but the casters had spent most of their magic. It came down to a vote. Only Shecks voted against continuing.

The party entered a control room inhabited by six orc fanatics. Morgrym was the first to enter the room. An orc turned and yelled about the "Shorty" to his allies. Morgrym considered flying into a berserker rage, but instead decided that he'd prefer to be entirely lucid for this kill. The dwarf approached and slashed deeply into his opponent as Arlowe and Ghartok entered the room behind him to blow away an orc apiece.Ghartok glimpsed a shadow behind a pillar just in time to see a dark stalker emerge and stab Arlowe in the back. The stalker was a similar sort of creature to the creatures the party had seen before, but tall and thin rather than short and skinny. This individual was also soaked in a green venom. It dodged a scorching ray from Shecks as Arlowe wheeled to defend himself.

Once Morgrym's foe hit the dirt, a new enemy entered the battle. Kulgara the orc stomped in through a side door accompanied by the howling whine of her chainsaw-sword. Morgrym looked at the weapon with instant envy. Kulgara took a look at the battle and pulled a grenade. She threw it at Ghartok and Arlowe, who were currently distracted with the dark stalker. The explosion hurt them all and killed a hapless orc who happened to be in the blast radius. The stalker fought on a bit longer and got another stab into Arlowe before being slain. Two orcs jumped Morgrym, one leaving a nasty wound with a lucky blow. Arlowe took his sword to the remaining orcs, freeing Morgrym to try and take down Kulgara.

Morgrym struck a solid blow to her knee with the shaft of his axe to bring her down to a proper height and whirled it up for a decapitating finish. However, his injuries slowed him down enough to leave him vulnerable. Kulgara spotted the opening and ran the dwarf through with her chainsaw. Morgrym fell, barely breathing. Shecks tried to distract her with his trademark taunting, but she couldn't hear it over the screeching metal, explosions, and crunching bone that is Numerian combat.

Ghartok took aim and planted two bullets squarely in Kulgara's torso. She did not fall. Arlowe withdrew his sword from an orc's spine and healed himself as he glanced back to see his friends' struggle. Kulgara laughed and stepped back from her fallen opponent. She sent a cryo grenade to finish Morgrym with a casual underhanded toss. To her great disappointment, the grenade did not kill Morgrym. Ghartok caught it out of the air and shielded his allies from the blast. The gnoll was knocked to the ground and covered in frost, but Morgrym had time for Shecks to revive him. From the ground, Shecks leaned back and finished off the last nameless orc with a headshot. Kulgara snorted and threw her final grenade. Shecks was again dying, and now Ghartok was down as well. However, Ghartok clung to consciousness, the need to preserve his pack still driving him on.

Arlowe was barely standing after the various blasts, orc blows, and the stalker's knife had worn him down. The door the party had entered through offered a possible escape. Arlowe never even considered it. His friends were in danger. Arlowe raised his sword one last time and threw all his varied talent into a single blow. Arlowe's last effort drew a stream of orcish blood, but it just wasn't quite enough. Kulgara survived the assault and slashed with all her might. Arlowe died.

Only Shecks was left standing. Ghartok could still shoot, but Kulgara could kill him before he had a chance to pull the trigger. Morgrym gasped on the ground, ever closer to death. Shecks tried a final plow, running up to Kulgara and trying to secretly swap out her chainsaw with a quickly conjured oboe. Her grip on the weapon was too strong to do this secretly. Kulgara was at least momentarily distracted by the gnome attempting to shove an oversized flute into her grip. Her second of confusion was enough for Ghartok to get one more shot. The gnoll looked at his doomed allies and the desperate, ravening blood of his monstrous ancestors screamed that there was only one way to keep the pack alive. Ghartok looked at Kulgara and shouted "Behold my offering to Hellion!" With that, Ghartok shot and killed Morgrym.

Shecks and Kulgara were both stunned by the betrayal, but Shecks quickly picked up on the deception. (Even if he didn't really approve.) Shecks managed to take over and sell Ghartok's story of a sudden conversion to Hellion's faith. Kulgara was surprised, but Ghartok was soon inducted into the cult. He also requested to keep his "gnome slave", which kept Shecks with him.

What seemed like ages passed as the two survived and rose in the cult's ranks. Shecks did most of the talking, both to keep up the facade to the cultists and to constantly remind Ghartok in Gnollish about Sheck's vote to rest instead of marching on. The infiltration of the cult did occasionally prove useful. Ghartok and Shecks soon learned that the device the cult had been siphoning power for was a massive excavator intended to dig out something of great interest to Hellion.

Eventually, the duo earned back all their gear, or at least what the cult guessed was originally theirs. They soon decided that it was time to strike back. First, they needed some new allies.

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Hellion

The party stood before a computer screen displaying the digital face of Hellion, the AI being that called itself a god. Hellion gave a grand speech describing the doom that awaited all flesh that would not kneel before him. This was all greatly undercut when delivered in a muffled volume through the crude blanket that Morgrym tossed over the screen. Hellion quickly tired of the party's defiance and cut off communications with them. The party then left the covered screen behind.

The party ventured down a set of stairs with a door at the end. They opened it and found themselves facing nine priests of Hellion. Their apparent leader was a half-orc named Nalakai wearing a more elaborate version of their unholy symbol on his armor. The cultists immediately initiated battle with a wave of spells that paralyzed Morgrym in the middle of the doorway. Ghartok shot a cultist dead and then more spells hit. This wave included a Chaos Hammer. This giant spectral hammer could deal crushing damage to the forces of Law. Good thing there weren't any around. The hammer did almost nothing besides disappoint the caster.


Arlowe and Shecks fired at the crowd with magic missiles as Morgrym took the brunt of the enemies' attacks. Eventually Morgrym broke the spell and went to work with his axe. Another spell forced him to drop the weapon, so Morgrym pulled out a backup warhammer and kept fighting. That too was lost, so he drew his secondary backup hammer. Unfortunately, the enemy gave up before testing just how many backup weapons the barbarian was carrying. More spells hit the party. Once they had pushed far enough to see around the corner, they could see a holographic demon casting the strongest of the spells. Shecks crippled Nalakai with masterful taunting and effectively took him out of the fight. Without him, the other cultists soon crumbled. The party stepped into the room and started fighting the hologram demon. Arlowe sent magic missiles and Ghartok shot at it. Both attacks phased harmlessly through the image. Shecks realized that the image was being projected from machines on the ceiling and floor.


The party redirected their attacks at the projectors at about the same time Nalakai recovered from the taunting. Despite Ghartok and Shecks trying to finish him off on the ground, Nalakai managed to die standing. The party then destroyed a projector, causing the demon to vanish. They did not manage to accomplish this before the demon commanded Morgrym to soil himself and die. Morgrym did not actually die, but merely lost consciousness for a moment. His pants were not so lucky.


The party recovered and moved on. The next major discovery was Nalakai's journal in a chest. It took hours to properly translate and study it. It turned out to be full of prayers giving useful insight on the beliefs of the Hellion cult. The overall theme was Hellions patricidal

feelings toward a being referred to as the Source. It also indicated that the Source was likely hidden underneath the Silver Mount in Numeria's capital city.


After a succession of secret doors, the party found a room lined with glowing purple generators. Morgrym went in first and was attacked by a pair of pieced-together junk robots with buzzsaw hands. One of the robots slashed Morgrym and then Ghartok shot its functioning eye off. Morgrym smashed into his attacker and Shecks blasted the saw off the other with a magic missile. Arlowe and Morgrym tore into the robots. Ghartok finished off the blinded robot. The other one promptly meshed into the corpse to take the functional parts as Shecks taunted it. For anyone else, taunting a robot would be impossible. However, Shecks had impossible magic in his very blood.


The robot stared for a moment, and then slowly began a halting laugh. Emotions that it had never known before flooded its cobbled-together behavior core. The robot dropped to the ground, laughing long and loud for the first time in the history of its kind. And then the party killed it, because they are terrible.


The party studied the room. The generators could be used to recharge non-timeworn technology, but the party would need an appropriate cable first. After that, the next notable discovery was a room with a large pit. The rocks were strangely polished here and clean of all organic matter. The party was debating who should be lowered in to search for loot when Morgrym got pounced by a gray ooze. Morgrym struck it with his magic battleaxe. The creature's acidic body left the axe burnt and scarred. Shecks cleaned off the axe with quick magic, but the damage remained. Ghartok shot the ooze. The bullet disintegrated halfway through. Arlowe's magic missiles impacted on the surface, leaving momentary craters. The ooze jumped on Morgrym and engulfed him.


Morgrym was tough enough to survive the acid until the party could kill the ooze, but his clothes and hair were not. Morgrym sadly put on backup clothing, shamed at being a beardless dwarf.


The party encountered a large walkway over a pool of churning green Numerian fluid. Amazingly, Shecks had thought to prepare the seemingly useless spell called Scoop. This allowed him to gather a sample into a flask for later. The fluid had the consistency of old blood and the stench of something worse. Shecks offered a sniff to Morgrym. Thanks to the barbarian's hearty dwarven constitution, he did not vomit.


The party then took a door into a hallway. Once halfway through, they noticed ambushers on the ceiling. The creatures were called dark creepers. Physically, they resembled short humans wearing dark cloaks and daggers. The party tried convincing them to stand down. However, nobody was able to talk their way out of this fight. The dark creepers conjured shadow decoys and dropped down to battle. The dark creepers were then swiftly massacred.

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The Chariot Punch

Having completed their expedition into the haunted wreck, the party decided to confront the racist manticore next. The creature's nest wasn't hard to find. Most of the people in Scrapwall could easily point the party to the distinctive pile of rusted metal in a hilltop cave. The party had to confront an old nemesis to reach the cave. They would have to climb. Arlowe made to the top first and lowered a rope, so it turned out to be significantly less dramatic than might be expected. Perhaps the party is only vulnerable to 10ft ledges specifically. The party found the lair empty. Apparently the manticore was off on one of his regular tirades. Most of the party found hiding places among the junk in preparation for the creature's return. Morgrym however stood right out in the open and waited to meet the beast head on.
 

 
The manticore flew in through the entrance. When he saw the defiant dwarf standing in his home with an axe in hand, he shouted something about stunted worm-men as the beat of his wings created a screen of dust. He then threw deadly spikes from his tail as the rest of the party emerged from hiding and began their attack. Morgrym's wounds forced him to retreat as the manticore landed. Shecks hit him with glitterdust on the way in. The creature took offense and focused his attacks on the bard. It also slashed at Arlowe once  contributed his sword. Morgrym turned around after healing a bit and ran in. The manticore fought savagely, but died on Arlowe's blade before it could strike a fatal blow to any of its favored targets.
 

The party looted the lair. Notably, they found an EMP pistol for Ghartok, an magic and ambiguously dwarven war axe for Morgrym, and a Ring of the Ram for Shecks. After this, they returned to the cathedral. Upon the party's return, Dinvaya the priestess informed them that their actions had earned them enough Scrapworth to get into the Lords of Rust's part of town. Once there, the party could infiltrate the Lords' base and find out why they were stealing energy from Torch. A few days of crafting and preparation were done before this. Arlowe built a magic missile wand and Ghartok replaced his double-barreled pistol.

 

The party then went to the Lords of Rust's arena and were challenged to battle by a troll leader named Helskarg. In hopes of gaining entrance, the party accepted and entered the arena. A horde of Scrapwall's population of rejects and marauders lined the walls to watch the carnage. In the few moments before the battle, Arlowe Enlarged Morgrym and Shecks cast Mirror Image on himself. Half a dozen duplicates surrounded the bard. This both made him hard to hit and turned him into an insulting orchestra.

A large door slid aside. Helskarg rode in on a chariot pulled by ogres. She brandished a grapple gun in her hand. Roaring as she took aim, Helskarg shot the hook into Morgrym. Morgrym ignored the pain with the force of his battle rage and rushed the chariot alongside Arlowe. Ghartok winged Helskarg with a bullet and then Shecks blasted the whole thing with Glitterdust. The spell blinded Helskarg and one of her ogre minions. Blinded as they were, Helskarg's chariot rushed on through. Morgrym was pulled off his feet and dragged behind by the grapple gun's durable rope. Arlowe tried to ride Morgrym like a sled but quickly fell off as Morgrym twisted around and tried to cut the rope with his axe. Ghartok saw the attempt and jumped on as well. The gnoll managed to stay on by latching a clawed foot into the dwarf's beard. Meanwhile, Shecks stood aside and taunted Helskarg and the non-blind ogre mercilessly.

Helskarg looked around furiously, trying to guess Sheck's location by his voice. Shecks' mockery then culminated in a genuinely funny punchline backed up with magic. Helskarg fell over in her chariot, laughing helplessly even as Ghartok shot at her. The unblind ogre was not effected by the taunting and began wheeling the chariot around to run Shecks down. Arlowe took up a position to protect Shecks and Morgrym managed to saw through the rope. Ghartok rolled off, stuck the landing, and jumped onto the chariot to keep shooting.

Shecks stood confidently as the chariot bore down upon him. His allies shouted at him to get out of the way as the ogres slavered with fury and Helskarg recovered from her laughter. Shecks was unperturbed. The gnome who stood at a mere three foot five waited until the giants and their chariot were just about upon him. And then he threw a punch. The Ring of the Ram flashed gold and the shadow of a goat's head could be seen for a mere moment before the crash. The ring-boosted punch stopped the chariot dead in its tracks and left it in a heap. Ghartok happily slid to a good point on top of the pile, laughing madly.

At this point the fight was over. The disoriented and stunned giants put up a few more moments of struggle, but had already lost once Morgrym and Arlowe pounced on them. The crowd cheered, and then dispersed as they grew bored with watching the party loot and slowly work the grappling hook out of Morgrym.

The party then entered the base. After a short walk in, a computerized demonic face appeared on a monitor. It did not look pleased.

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Magic Missile

The party continued their expedition into the bowels of the Smiler's fort to rescue a ratfolk's brother. They now stood in a crude surgical chamber. Old machines on tables sat idle, their rusted tools lying in wait for a future activation. Morgrym stepped through the narrow door and was immediately attacked. Three undead called rust-risen were lying in wait. They looked like zombies, but were both sentient and riddled with cobbled-together cybernetic additions like metal jaws and drills replacing their right hands. The first of the rust-risen jabbed Morgrym in the arm with its drill before being felled by shots from Ghartok's gun and Shecks' Magic Missile wand. Morgrym then struck down another and it looked for a moment like an easy win.


Three more rust-risen then entered the surgical chamber alongside a hobgoblin necromancer. The necromancer was Marrow, leader of Scrapwall's Smilers. Marrow cast a lightning bolt into the crowd. The bolt both wounded the adventurers in its path and energized the rust-risen. Shecks darted under a retaliatory gunshot to heal Morgrym's burns. Arlowe and Grim then began hacking through the wall of undead, Arlowe reaching over Morgrym with his distinctive stretchy arms. As the fighting continued, Marrow tried using some sort of mind spell on Ghartok. All she got was a gunshot and bardic mockery for her trouble. Ghartok rolled through the melee battle to a better vantage point just before Marrow sent another lightning bolt in.

At this point, everyone involved was on the edge of death. Morgrym took down another rust-risen and then fell. Shecks woke him back up to fight on, but then he was again rendered unconscious. Ghartok and Marrow dueled in the center of the room. She nearly fried the gnoll with Scorching Rays and siphoned away his life force to keep herself standing. Ghartok turned and shot the last of the rust-risen, freeing up Arlowe to jump in. Arlowe dodged past her deadly spells and landed a good blow. Shecks revived Morgrym and the barbarian threw his axe. Sadly, it missed and she dropped him again with magic missiles that also took down Arlowe. This looked like it could be the end of this party. Thankfully, the Magic Missile wand Arlowe had made for Shecks turned the tide. With her existing wounds, Marrow couldn't stand up under Shecks' barrage.

After the party had looted the room and healed up, they went on their way. The party soon came across a room full of clear glass tubes resembling the one that had held Baine captive. Inside one was the ratfolk the party had been sent to rescue. Thankfully, he seemed to be unharmed. The inhabitants of the other tubes had not been so lucky. They bore obvious signs of lobotomization and experimentation. The party put the Smiler's victims out of their misery.

After that, the party returned to the cathedral to plan their next move. Two major opportunities to gain Scrapworth had presented themselves. The party could slay an oddly bigoted manticore that had been tormenting the town, or they could be the first to successfully explore a haunted shipwreck clouded with mist. The party chose the wreck.

When they approached, the wreck could be barely seen through a shroud of mist.The party marched into the cloud, wary for the inevitable ambush. When it came, it was in the form of a poltergeist that looked like a spectral skeleton. It scared Shecks away, causing him to run off into the mist. Thankfully, he didn't get far. Shecks' magic-induced retreat was stopped when he smacked into a wall. Ghartok tried to shoot the poltergeist. The double barrels flashed for a moment before the gun exploded. Ghartok's howl of frustration and rage was echoed by the giggling of the undead as it faded from view. The party then still had to make their way through the mist. The poltergeists were immune to most weapons the party had. However, the poltergeists themselves had little offensive ability once their ability to cause fear had been used up. Ultimately the party just ran past them. Shecks tried forgiving them. It actually worked on one of the creatures and caused it to pass on.

The poltergeists stopped attacking once the party was inside the wreck. They were assaulted by a glowing orb called a
will-o’-wisp. The creature fought with guerilla tactics much like the poltergeists, but was significantly easier to injure. Ultimately Arlowe and Shecks killed it with Magic Missile spells.

The party found another chamber full of glass tubes after that. These were cracked and broken. Inches of dust were apparently heaped upon the ground. A horrendous stench of rot escaped from the tubes, and so did two skeletons in ancient spacesuits. Ghartok and Morgrym were briefly nauseated by the smell, leaving Arlowe and Shecks to fight off the undead. Shecks contributed magic missiles as Arlowe dodged around the undead claws and retalitated with his sword. Arlowe finished off a skeleton with a crushing kick through its faceplate as his friends recovered from their nausea. The other astronaut did not last long under focused assault from the party.

Shecks emptied, cleaned off, and somewhat repaired the spacesuits for later sale as the rest of the party was confronted with a sturdy looking door. With some difficulty, the party broke through into the ship's ruined command center. Mummified corpses still sat at their posts, strapped in by safety belts. Upon entering, the party was nearly overwhelmed with vivid visions of the moment the ship fell. This created a sense of vertigo so strong that Ghartok and Morgrym actually fell over at the vision's explosive end. It was then that the spirit of the old captain rose up.

The captain's touch drained away a good deal of Morgrym's life. Morgrym responded with a punishing blow from his magic warhammer followed by barrages of magic missiles from Arlowe and Shecks. Ghartok took a shot with his musket, but the mundane bullet passed through with no effect. The captain drained still more energy from Morgrym and Ghartok. He almost succeeded in turning one of them into wraiths like himself, but then the magic missiles finally finished him off. With the captain's defeat, the spell over the wreck was lifted. The poltergeists and the mist were dispersed. After looting, the party returned to the cathedral to rest.

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Emotional abuse for fun and profit
After their narrow victory over Birdfood, the party returned to Sevroth and reported their success. She was very pleased by the news, and would be a useful ally if her word could be trusted. In any event, the party was exhausted from the brutal fight and decided to rest. The party left Scrapwall and returned to Aldronard's Grave for safety. While there, Ghartok finished up a new weapon he had been designing. It was another primitive firearm similar to his musket, but this one was a double barreled pistol. With the twin barrels and some new combat tricks, Ghartok became significantly more effective. However, the party's return to Scrapwall soon proved that there are more ways to crush an opponent than simple physical violence.
 
As the party was wandering the streets on their way to visit Scrapwall's "Clockwork Cathedral", a gang of six Smilers appeared with pistols drawn. Their leader swaggered up to the party. With the damaged voice typical of his gang, he demanded the party hand over their coin. Shecks would not put up with this sort of treatment. With a cold reader's eye and a cruel tongue, Shecks broke the hapless gangster's self confidence into shattered pieces. The rest of the gangsters looked on in confusion as their superior began to back down before a comical little man throwing insults. Another Smiler ran down to try to get the mugging back on track. Shecks simply switched targets and emotionally squashed him too. One by one, Shecks worked his way through the entire group of hardened outlaws until they meekly let the party leave.
 
Shortly thereafter, a silver raven approached the party. On its leg was a note from the half-elf woman the party had been asked to contact by the dwarf councilman. The message was an invitation to meet her at the same cathedral the party had been headed to. The party agreed and ventured forth. As could be expected, the cathedral was indeed made of clockwork. Clicks and thumping machinery were the rule here as giant gears rotated and clockwork constructs went about their business. They were not the advanced robots that fell from the sky, more magically animated golems. Inside, the party met the woman. Her name was Dinvaya Lanalei. She was a priest of Brigh, the goddess of invention. The party got along well with her. They relayed the message about the Technic League's cessation of their search for her, which she took with skepticism tinged with hope.

The party and Dinvaya talked for a while about Scrapwall and the cult of Hellion. Although Dinvaya didn't believe Hellion was a real god, she did acknowledge the threat posed by his followers. She and the party worked out a plan to oppose them. In rough terms, the party needed to find the relay dish that had been receiving the stolen power from Torch and destroy it. After that, they needed to infiltrate the Smiler's headquarters and find whatever device the power was ultimately being used for. It would be easier to get into the Smiler's part of town if the party built up enough Scrapworth first. In any event, the party was allowed to rest in the Cathedral instead of walking all the way out to the fort if they wished.
 
The party headed to the relay's location soon after. It was in a subterranean fort on the other side of a large ravine. A rickety and swaying bridge provided the only way in. Perhaps it could have lead to disaster if someone fell off, but the party made it across without major incident.
 
The party came across a monster on the other side. It was a small creature of humanoid shape with rubbery flesh and spindly limbs. It was dead. Ghartok and Shecks inspected the body. Together they worked out that it was called a choker and been killed by repeated blows from another creature's whiplike tendrils. The party continued to explore the remains of the base. More dead chokers littered the floors. Signs of a sudden removal of equipment abounded. The party eventually found the array itself, however. It was too heavy to move and so was left behind. The party decided to finish exploring this ominous place before dealing with it. They ultimately came to a pit crowded with skeletons.
 
Ghartok suffered a telepathic assault while everyone was inspected the room and looking at the bones. He saw a vision of his own tribe walking out of the bones, looking just as they were on the day he was beaten and exiled. Ghartok shrieked in horror and fled, babbling in Gnollish. Arlowe pursued on foot to catch him. Shecks and Morgrym were thus left alone for the rhu-chalik's attack. Also known as a void wanderer, these squidlike floating creatures would subdue victims with pain and fear before copying their minds and sending the copy into the depths of space to be forever tormented by their inscrutable masters.
 
The creature appeared from invisibility and its tendrils lashed out to batter the two remaining adventurers. They stung like a jellyfish and the pain hindered Morgrym's attempts at retaliation. As Morgrym fought the creature directly, Shecks stepped back and hit it with glitterdust to prevent it from disappearing again. Shecks began berating Morgrym to try and keep him motivated as the creature's rapid but weak blows balanced against Morgrym's slower but devastating hits. Shecks would try taunting but did not know the language of abominations. He would have to rectify that later, but for the moment could only hurt it with a few spells. Meanwhile, Arlowe caught up to Ghartok and tackled him. Ghartok quickly calmed down once Arlowe knocked some sense into him and they began running back to the fight. Once they got there, Shecks quickly adjusted his motivational insults to include Ghartok. Ghartok growled in frustration and fired his new pistol. The barrels roared in unison and the alien was splattered across the bone pit.
 
Shecks disassembled the power relay and the party went back to the Cathedral for rest. Arlowe used the downtime to construct a wand of Magic Missile for Shecks to use. The party was greeted the next morning by a pack of ratfolk from a gang called the Redtooth Raiders. They requested a meeting and the party went with them. Their leader explained a relatively simple job offer. His brother had been kidnapped by the Smilers. The ratfolk would pay the party well if the party would raid the base and get him back. This would also be good for the party's reputation as well. The party felt the usual reluctance to work with Scrapwall's gangs, but fighting the cannibalistic cult of the Smilers was a decent enough act in itself. They agreed to help the ratfolk.
 
The party looked over the Smiler base from a nearby hill of garbage that provided just enough concealment. From there they could see a laser rifle on a mount that hummed back and forth in an automated hunt for targets. "Patrols" of four Smilers each would regularly come and go on their way to prey on the other denizens of the city. The party decided to launch their attack in the middle of the night. Since the party consisted of a gnome, a gnoll, an aasimar, and a dwarf, they possessed the advantage of powerful eyes that could see much better in the dark than their mostly human opponents.
 
The attack began by ambushing one of the patrols. The rest of the party pulled weapons to keep the Smilers from attacking as Shecks mocked them into submitting. The guards gave up the password to keep the laser turret from firing. The party then decided to simply tie them up and let them live. The party used the password on the laser rifle and it obediently shut down. Shecks then took the gun off its hinges while muttering insults at himself to get it done.  It was a powerful weapon, but not a particularly trustworthy one after the ravages of millennia.  The party packed it away and entered the base.
 
The darkened halls were marked by occasional crude furnishings and tapestries of Smiler symbols. A surprisingly quiet half-ogre Smiler named Gunshy then ambushed the party. Gunshy smashed into Arlowe twice with his club and knocked him out as the party retaliated. The fight then ended abruptly when Gunshy had the misfortune to catch one of Ghartok's bullets between the eyes and lose the back half of his skull. The party started to drop their guard and Shecks healed Arlowe. They only got a moment's rest before four more human Smiler's stepped out from behind tapestries with pistols in hand. A rapid exchange of gunshots, spells, and melee weapons began and just as quickly ended. The party watched warily for more concealed gang members with creepy permanent grins as the last Smiler fell apart after being bisected by Morgrym's axe.
 
None showed themselves, so Shecks went looking for secret doors while the rest of the party looted. He found one after scouring the room for a while. On the other side was a chamber full of damaged but still functional surgical equipment much like the examples on the buried starship under Torch.
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Scrapwall and the first mockery
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After defeating Meyanda the android and restoring Torch's flame, the party enjoyed the status of local celebrities. While the party rested, a new ally entered Torch. He was Fackrin Shecks the insult comic gnome. He carried a makeshift megaphone with him to better voice his immense vocabulary of the most cutting jabs and jeers in eleven languages. He was a friend of Luna's, and would make a fine replacement for the oracle as she worked on her own business. The party spent their downtime investigating what had motivated Meyanda and her followers to attack Torch. The wizard Khonnir Baine studied the humming device captured in Garmen's warehouse. He found that it was a power relay designed to take energy siphoned from the shipwreck's reactor and send it to a companion device somewhere else in Numeria. Shecks' knowledge of the land pinpointed the location as the town of Scrapwall.
 
Scrapwall was a three mile long hive of scum, villainy, and outcasts. Its buildings were made from metal wreckage as broken and twisted as the hearts of its inhabitants. This was where the party would have to go next. While purchasing horses to expedite the journey, the party received two visits. The first was from a dwarven member of the town council, who wanted the party to check on a female acquaintance hiding in Scrapwall and inform her that the Technic League was no longer searching for her. The second was a bit of advice from Khonnir Baine. He suggested seeking shelter along the way at an old fort called Aldronard's Grave. It was a waystation often used by righteous crusaders on their way to the Worldwound until its recent closure by the heroes of the mythic Fifth Crusade.
 
The party reached.the fort after a few days of travel. Columns of smoke were visible towering above the fort as they rode up. The party approached and were greeted by an armored sentry with a strangely forced voice. "Get away, there's plague!" he shouted. Arlowe detected something untrustworthy in the man's tone. At the same time, Ghartok detected the familiar smell of humans roasting over a fire. The sentry reluctantly opened the portcullis after consulting with his fellows when the party insisted on entry. The party started to enter the fort, and then the sentry dropped the portcullis again, trapping Arlowe and Morgrym inside.
 
Arlowe chased after the sentry, who rounded a corner to reveal four of his allies and his boss. The leader of these bandits was a disturbing man with a hatchet for a hand and a permanent smile created by the removal of his lips. In fact, all of his minions bore the same mutilated smile. The monk dodged nimbly away as the minions opened fire with a line of pistols and their leader tossed a nauseating poison grenade. Morgrym was caught in the cloud, but his dwarven constitution was unaffected by the gas. Shecks cast a spell to enlarge Arlowe into a giant as the monk and the barbarian waded into combat. All but one of the minions traded their empty pistols for daggers as Hatchet-Hand tossed another gas grenade. Ghartok's musket chose this battle to break down . The gnoll struggled to get it working until Shecks finally ridiculed him into blasting a hole through one of the minions.
 
Hatchet-Hand drew a second axe to go with his hand and clashed blades with Morgrym while Arlowe was occupied with the minions and Ghartok's gun was failing him. Morgrym fought savagely, but even his infamous bite was not enough against Hatchet-Hand's madness. Morgrym fell unconscious from multiple gashes from the dual hatchets. Hatchet-Hand's celebration was then cut short by Arlowe slashing his throat with an efficient sword blow.
 
Morgrym was quickly revived with many doses of the healing wand and the party looted the fort. The bandits themselves had little of note besides a non-magical curative substance called Soothe. It was much like a healing potion, but would leave permanent scars as it healed. Ghartok considered trying their pistols, but the weapons were too dangerously poor a state to be safe. Moving deeper into the fort, the party found living prisoners. One of them was a paladin of Sarenrae who told the party the story of the fort's capture. The gang was a faction called the Smilers. In Scrapwall, a new and powerful gang had risen calling itself the Lords of Rust..The Lords of Rust were worshippers of an new god calling itself Hellion. The paladin considered the idea of a new god dubious at best. Recently, many of the various gangs of Scrapwall had begun competing for the Lords favor. The Smilers had taken the fort largely to please them on the orders of a leader in Scrapwall. Once there, they had begun capturing humans. Some they had even eaten.
 
Later, Shecks took care of some things around the fort. There was evidence of decay everywhere, and butchered humans hung from the walls. Ghartok pointed out the source of the roasted human smell. It was a stable where the Smilers had locked a bunch of prisoners in with their horses and burned them all. Shecks cremated the bodies as Ghartok looked on with a sadly hungry look. After that, Shecks visited the fort's chapel and met the ghost of its founder. The ethereal knight spent his days wailing and begging forgiveness for the deaths of his family. The ghost thought the gnome might be his son and asked Shecks for his pardon. Shecks pretended to grant it and the ghost vanished peacefully into the afterlife. It was quite possibly the easiest exorcism in Golarion's history. As he went, the ghost gave the entire party the ability to cast Cure Light Wounds once in their lives. The biggest significance of this was that the non-magical party members could use the healing wand as long as they never cast their spell.
 
The party rested in the fort overnight and then resumed their journey. Once in Scrapwall, the party knew they would have to prove themselves. In Scrapwall, this sort of brutal honor is called Scrapworth. A note to the reader here: The denizens of Scrapwall are terrible with names. It's best to just accept that if you wish to read on.
 
The party reached the gates of Scrapwall. An orc guard stood on watch. Shecks spoke up first. The guard and the gnome then engaged in a wondrous display of insult battling the likes of which had not been heard since the legendary Galtan Taunters until the guard's human boss arrived. She asked the party if they knew anything about the smoking fort in the distance behind them. Morgrym mentioned the party's battle with the Smilers. There was a moment of serious tension as the party and the woman gauged each other for a potential outbreak of violence. The boss approved however and invited the party into Scrapwall with a job offer.
 
The party followed her to a shadowy building. The boss introduced herself as Sevroth Slaid and explained her proposition. By the machinations of the Lords of Rust, a former Smiler named Birdfood had taken over her gang, the Steel Hawks. Slaid said she might be able to assist the party if they "removed" Birdfood so she could retake command. The party was reluctant to participate in the power struggles of raiders, but most of them felt it was necessary to protect Torch.
 
The party went to Birdfood's "mansion". Nine orcs lounged outside with wicked falcion scimitars by their side. The party asked to meet Birdfood, still not quite sure what to do. An orc went to fetch Birdfood, who appeared on the second-story balcony. Birdfood was a human with the distinctive Smiler disfigurements and a bow in his hand. Three hawks sat upon his shoulders and a sword hung from his hip. Birdfood asked the party why they had bothered him. In a vain hope of avoiding a battle, someone directly asked him to step down as leader of the Steel Hawks. Birdfood refused of course, but offered to negotiate further if the party would leave their weapons outside and meet him inside. Shecks decided the situation was doomed and kicked things off by enlarging Morgrym.
 
Birdfood responded to the spellcasting by sending down his bird minions at the head of the now charging orc horde. The birds menaced Shecks as Morgrym cut down an orc that was attacking Ghartok. Not wanting to kill unless necessary, Ghartok drew his stun pistol and zapped an orc into unconsciousness. With a similar sentiment, Arlowe kept his sword in its sheath and marched through the horde with nonlethal punches and kicks. Birdfood himself shot an arrow into Shecks just as his birds' surprisingly sharp talons found their mark. Although wounded, Shecks had the presence of mind to raise his megaphone and shout mockery at Birdfood. A combination of his sheer insolence and the bardic magic within the words was enough to leave Birdfood laughing helplessly for a while.
 
The party fought a desperate, grueling battle against the horde of orcs and the deadly birds. Shecks was nearly brought down before blasting a hawk apart with his megaphone on maximum. Ghartok fired some more stun blasts before the gun permanently broke down. As the last of the minions fell, Arlowe and Ghartok started clambering up the mansions ramshackle walls to reach the balcony. At that point, Birdfood revived from his fit of laughter. With his bow, he brought down both Shecks and Morgrym after they had been weakened by the battle. Ghartok retreated to save them as Arlowe vaulted over the railing with his seven-pointed sword in hand. Arlowe began dueling furiously one on one with Birdfood. Arlowe slashed and stabbed repeatedly as Birdfood continally backed away to use his bow. They disappeared into the mansion as Ghartok reached the dying dwarf. Unable to reach the healing wand in time, Ghartok was forced to use his one Cure spell. Shecks stabilized on his own, although Ghartok injected him with a hypogun for good measure before running off to try climbing into the mansion again.
 
Beyond the balcony, Arlowe continued to fight alone against Birdfood. Although Birdfood was being continually driven back and worn down by Arlowe's many blows, he was still the stronger combatant. In a moment of near-triumph, Arlowe disarmed and stunned Birdfood with a powerful punch to the gut. In the last moment before Arlowe could finish him off, Birdfood recovered and brought Arlowe down with his backup sword. Dripping blood, Birdfood picked up his bow and dragged the dying monk with him to the balcony. Looking down, he saw Ghartok struggling for a moment to get up the side of the mansion. Upon spotting Birdfood and guessing what had transpired inside, Ghartok dropped down and darted to cover around the corner of the mansion. Birdfood demanded Ghartok surrender immediately or he would finish off the bard. Birdfood fired an arrow into the dirt by Shecks head to make his point clear. Ghartok stepped out with his musket raised in a conciliatory gesture. Ghartok loped forward and suggested resolving this dispute over some nice, roasted human before suddenly dropping into a firing position and taking a shot. The bullet ripped through Birdfood's heart. The gang leader growled once in impotent rage before falling over the balcony to the sands below.
 
Ghartok then used a hypogun to stabilize Arlowe before reviving Sheck, who healed everyone else.
 
View
Bite of the Dwarf
 
The party continued exploring the engineering deck. It was an easy choice in the end, given that the upper deck had been fully explored and the other two decks had been destroyed by the ship's ancient impact. The party searched the room of the fallen Gearsman robot and found some interesting devices. Ghartok acquired an odd pistol that glowed blue when he readied it. Luna claimed a futuristic camouflage outfit. She also toyed with some fist-sized canisters. Red buttons on their tops shone with inviting lights and beeps, but for once Luna decided she probably shouldn't be the one to press them. After the gear was divided up, the party left the robotics lab and returned to the thylacines former lair.
 
Two new opponents now occupied the room. A pair of fanatical orcs were surveying the damage when the party entered. Upon noticing the party, the orcs bellowed and charged with brutal weapons fashioned from scrap metal.
 
 
One orc's jagged axe parried against Morgrym's. With this distraction, the other orc smashed his fist into the savage smith's face. The orc then looked down with an expression of shock, pain, and regret as Morgrym's mighty dwarven teeth sank into his wrist. The unbitten orc backed off quickly as Arlowe, the Lunas, and Ghartok attacked. He fought ferociously like only an orc could, but this was only enough to buy a few precious seconds before Arlowe's seven-branched sword went through his heart. As Morgrym chomped his assailant to death, the rest of the party noticed someone watching them from the long tunnel. The party ran down the spy and found that he was none other than Sanvil from town.
 
Sanvil began spinning some unlikely story about innocent stealth deliveries. It almost worked, but this time Arlowe saw through his deceptions and intimidated him into revealing his true purpose. Sanvil admitted that he was actually stalking the party in the hope that they would fall victim to one of the shipwreck's many perils and leave their collected treasures free for the taking. The party stripped him of his gear and most of his clothing before tying his wrists. In searching their captive, the party made two significant discoveries. He had been hiding both a pin that revealed his allegiance to the Technic League and a note with an address. Ghartok recalled the address as an "abandoned" warehouse owned by Garmen Ulreth.
 
More attention was grabbed by the League pin, however. The Technic League was an order of power-obsessed mages who had become the tyrannical rulers of Numeria decades ago with their corruption of the barbarian warlord Kevoth-Kul, now known as the Black Sovereign. Torch was on the outer edge of their influence, but was still required to pay regular heavy tributes to the Technic League. Needless to say, supporters of the League were not popular in Torch. Morgrym dragged Sanvil's leash behind him as the party moved on through a new door.

 

That door slid open to the sound of shouts and battle. As soon as the party was visible, four ratfolk opened up with screaming magical bolts from hand crossbows and two more orcs pounced from hiding.
 
 
Battle was joined. In the chaos, Morgrym glanced back over his shoulder to find that Sanvil had slipped from his bonds. Once again chasing him down, Morgrym found Sanvil desperately trying to call the elevator out. With an exasperated groan, Morgrym slapped Sanvil over the head with the flat side of his axe and knocked him unconscious. Meanwhile, the pack of rats and orcs fell. The last ratfolk to fall had been cut down just as it opened a door that now repeatedly opened and closed upon its corpse.
 
Never ones to turn down death's door, the party ventured through. On the other side was an ominous display. A darkened navigation chamber blinked with tiny status lights and shimmered with the reflections of burning braziers on black screens. A shrine consisting of a large clawed hand made of scrap metal dominated the center of the room, accompanied by a metal-coated gargoyle. A holographic map of the ship itself marked out a corner of its own.
 
After Morgrym stuffed Sanvil into a mop bucket on a rope, the party ventured in and learned one of the most common lessons of adventuring. Gargoyle statues are never "just" statues. The gargoyle sprang to life and slashed its claws at Morgrym, who narrowly dodged and countered with a solid axe blow that glanced off the gargoyle's magic hide. Ghartok drew the blue pistol he had discovered earlier and fired it at the gargyole. A blast of energy struck the gargoyle, which rocked back on its heels for a brief moment before showing no apparent effect. Arlowe extended his arms for extra reach as the Lunas and Morgrym battered the monster, once again with no effect as the gargolye slashed Tiger Luna. Morgrym then remembered the magic hammer given to him by the vegepygmy chief and drew it. The hammer's magic bypassed the gargoyle's defenses and struck true. It did not claim the kill, however. Morgrym's bite took that honor.
 
As usual, the party looted the room. A pair of advanced sunglasses that helped perceive threats became a source of dispute as the party argued over who should have them. It was rather briefly a debate of practicality, as the more overriding issue was whether or not Luna or Morgrym would look cooler in sunglasses. Luna eventually won, but Morgrym was soon satisfied by a space helmet that was largely similar in function with the addition of an audio proximity alarm. Ghartok got a grapple-harpoon gun, and Arlowe had little need of material things.
 
Several paths lead out from the navigation chamber. The party picked one and looked over their choice. A pair of exposed Tesla coils arced out with lightning on an irregular pattern in a passage leading to the elevator. Morgrym went on through, forgetting that he was dragging Sanvil's bucket with him. The bolts lashed out with nearly fatal strength. After the few seconds it took Morgrym to rush to the other side, both were scorched and Sanvil was rapidly dying. The party argued for a few seconds over what to do before Ghartok rolled through the hallway and managed to stabilize the quisling just before life could leave him completely. The party then regrouped and agreed not to needlessly electrocute themselves for a third time. Time would tell if they could adhere to that promise.
 
Heading in the opposite direction this time, the party found themselves in a chamber very appropriate for a final showdown. A room as large as the navigation chamber, but this one dominated by a giant reactor spitting suppressed purple flames. Clearly, this was the source of Torch's iconic flame. A purple-haired woman with many angular tattoos stood with a dispassionate expression on a balcony above the lower level. A sleek steel and red pistol was clutched in her hand. Another pack of ratfolk and orcs accompanied her, along with a collector robot that they could somehow influence.
 


 

By her unusual appearance, those knowledgeable in lore of Numerian relics could identify the woman as an artificial human known as an android. Morgrym and Tiger Luna charged against the orcs and clashed for a moment before the collector robot flew over and snatched up Morgrym for an aerial wrestling match. Luna formed a solid wall of moonlight just before the android stunned her with a sonic spell. Ghartok took cover behind the moonlight wall and began shooting at the android. The ratfolk mostly just bounced poorly aimed crossbow bolts off the walls. Arlowe and Tiger Luna battled with the orcs, slaying them, but not before Tiger Luna took some blows. Luna revived in time to heal her cat. Not having much luck with his musket, Ghartok decided to bring the android down from her perch and took aim with the grapple gun.
 
The android tried casting some sort of spell on the gnoll, but he shrugged off the magic and fired the harpoon into her gut. Ghartok then handed the grapple gun off to Luna, who read the Androffan instructions on the side and hit the "retract" button. The android was yanked off her perch and slammed to the floor in front of Luna. Unperturbed by her fall and impalement, the android immediately punched Luna with her spiked glove. Meanwhile in the air, Morgrym pinned his mechanized abductor against the wall and held it still for Arlowe to finish off. The android fought hard, but could not stand against the whole party once she was surrounded. Luna's spear ended the android's struggles.
 
The party allowed the ratfolk to surrender peacefully and sent them away. As the party member with the most knowledge of ancient technology, Luna somehow persuaded everyone to let her carefully fix the flame-emitting machine. Eventually, Luna got it. The problem was that the android had taken the reactor off its standby/venting mode and disabled the failsafes in order to siphon power away and transmit it to some unknown destination. Why she had been stealing the power, or known how to do it in the first place, would have to remain a mystery for now. By tinkering with the alien controls, Luna stopped the siphoning and send up the flame once more.
 
The party returned triumphantly to Torch. When they got back, the first thing they noticed was that the purple torch had indeed returned, but initially seemed much stronger than it should be. Too hot for safely working metal, at any rate. The party dropped off Sanvil to the town council's custody and claimed their reward for restoring the torch. They then rested at the inn. The next day, the flame went back to its normal behavior and Torch could once again forge its skymetal. There were still two major issues to resolve before the party's adventure could really be considered done, however. Baine's mind was still damaged, and they needed to investigate the warehouse from Sanvil's note.
 
The party decided on a morally dubious course. They knew Garmen was almost certainly corrupt and the Technic League seemed to be involved in whatever his business at the warehouse was. So, the party decided to storm the place after spending some time scoping it out. Arlowe was not comfortable with this plan, but went along with it. The party crept up to a door as Morgrym counted guards with his helmet's scanning. Kicking in the door, the party found Garmen and four members of his gang of thugs that called themselves the Ropefists.
 


 

The Ropefists charged and Garmen used an invisibility potion to vanish from view. Arlowe decided not to participate in the rather one sided battle between the party and the Ropefists, instead electing to scout the warehouse. Two Ropefists fell to Morgrym's bite, and one was disabled by Luna's spear before Ghartok kicked him unconscious. The final Ropefist only had a moment to reconsider his life choices before being slaughtered.
 
Arlowe noticed a loud, dull humming in the warehouse. Tracking it to its source, he found a transmitting computer hidden in a box. Pushing a promising-looking switch, he turned it off. Instantly, everyone in Torch felt a sense of relief as the barely audible humming finally vanished from the town. It turned out everyone had been losing sleep to it, but it wasn't quite loud enough for people to be consciously aware of it. Arlowe was then stabbed in the back by Garmen himself in a desperate attempt at revenge. Ghartok promptly shot Garmen in the back before Arlowe neatly sliced the gang leader apart in a flurry of sword blows.
 
The town council obviously soon required an explanation as to why the party had attacked and massacred a building full of people. After the party explained, the council let them go. It would be hard to find a jury that would convict anyway, now that the party had saved everyone's livelihood and eliminated the humming. Luna even somehow acquired ownership of the warehouse itself and decided to settle down for a while, running a storage business. As for Baine, the party eventually found a cleric who could purge the affliction and restore Baine's mental health. Once he regained full command of his faculties, Baine explained that his problem had been nanites that a robot injected into his brain in an attempt to find out where his magic came from.
 
Just as things were settling down, a little gnome with a megaphone wandered into town.
 
View
Unwelcome guests

 

 After returning to town with Khonnir Baine and spending the day on personal projects and resupplying, the party was informed of an unpleasant development. Whatever had been done to Baine that damaged his mind in the ancient shipwreck was not easily removed. Ghartok spent a full day carefully treating Baine with traditional gnollish methods as Luna and Arlowe assisted. Neither mundane healing nor magical methods seemed to improve his condition. The party and the town council decided to let him rest for the time being.

Later, the party was resting in their rooms at the inn when Luna was awoken by her tiger. Getting up and listening in the darkness, she heard someone trying to pick her lock. Luna quietly got out of bed, retrieved her spear, and crouched in a corner as the intruder creaked open the door. A man stepped into the room and Luna stabbed him in the back. The man stumbled forward, raising one hand and clutching a flare gun with the other. Nervously staring at the tiger Luna's snarling black and white visage, the intruder called for mercy. Luna saw in the light that her "guest" was Sanvil, the Numerian technology expert.
 
 
As the rest of the party awoke and filed into the room, Sanvil claimed he was just trying to return Ghartok's flare gun. To Luna's room, in the dead of night, by picking the lock. Somehow the party believed this and let him go after a drink.
 
 
The party then returned to the buried shipwreck the next morning to continue their mission. With the help of Luna's translations, the party read a computer screen revealing various other levels of the vessel that could be reached by the middle chamber/elevator. Morgrym had fixed the part, so he installed it with another painful shock. Before delving deeper into the wreck, the party decided to finish thoroughly exploring the upper deck. The party opened the door to the unexplored chambers. Their first discovery was a medium-size room covered in russet mold. When Morgrym entered to look around, a vegepygmy leapt from the plant-covered wall and brandished a spear.
 
 
Ghartok blew away the first plant creature before it could cause any damage, but then four more swarmed in and around. Luna stabbed one through the gut as it attacked. Her spear punched right through, with little damage to the creature. The vegepygmies slashed with their claws and poked with their spears, hooting in the fury all the while. After that moment, the attack was broken. Morgrym cleaved one in two as Arlowe took down two in one fluid motion. The party now noticed another door that had been partially concealed in the greenery of the room. The party went through.
 
On the other side was what looked like a cafeteria, overrun with plant life to a lesser extent than before. Morgrym lead again, and again he was confronted by a hidden plant. This time it was a massive flower.
 


 

The alien flower lashed out and severely battered him with its tendrils. A normal dwarf would have crushed in seconds, but Morgrym stayed standing. The rest of the party rushed to his defense, and then Morgrym brought the plant down by chopping through the stem. He then bit off a petal out of rage and spite before calming down. Luna extracted her usual mandatory tiger-petting from Morgrym before agreeing to heal him. She used a recovered medical "hypogun" for the task. Ghartok wasn't injured, but just pet the tiger for free. Luna rewarded him with a brief magical blessing anyway. The party then looted, uncovering evidence of the vegepygmies' gruesome habits. A humanoid torso had been opened up and used as a box for treasures.
 
After leaving the cafeteria, the last thing the party found in the vegepgymy habitat was not a fight at all. Opening another door, the party found themselves before Vrilledt, the chief of the vegepygmies. He held a glowing hammer in his hand and regarded the party with a more intelligent eye than his kin had shown.
 
 
Vrilledt extended a formal greeting to the party. He did not wish to fight, just to talk. As the rest of the party listened, Vrilledt talked with Morgrym. Through tense and racist verbal sniping, Vrilledt got across that he just wanted an escort to the caverns on the other side of the false desert. He intended to spawn a new tribe there, but hadn't been able to get there himself due to the danger of the journey. This presented the party with a moral question. Was it better for them to destroy the monster before them now in cold blood, or let him and spawn live elsewhere, potentially in peace? The party ultimately chose to take him to the caverns over Luna's protestations. It was an easy trip thanks to the mysterious lack of skeletons, if a bit long due to the distance. Vrilledt disappered into the darkness of the caverns, but not before paying the party for their help by giving them his magical hammer.
 
The party then returned to the elevator. They decided to visit the engineering deck first. The party stood in awkward silence as alien music unheard for millennia tinnily piped in over the clanks of old gears. When the elevator doors slid open, all the other sounds were drowned out by the snarling of surprisingly terrestrial predators. A pack of four thylacines was gathered outside the elevator.
 
 
Despite their intimidating jaws, the animals did not pose much of a threat and swiftly wiped out. The party then picked through the detritus of their lair and began exploring the new deck. After a long trek through empty halls that curved away from the thylacine lair, the party returned to the lair. This time, the party went down a different passage. They moved through halls defined by garbage and industrial decay. A door was marked by a bloodstain, luring the party through. They found themselves in a workshop. Two repair drones milled about, diligently cleaning up. Unlike the others the party had seen, this pair was not hostile. A tunnel of some sort with a bloody curtain was placed inside one wall next to a door. In the background, a computer chanted an old warning. Luna translated it as "Robot Command Core damaged. Reboot required." What a "reboot" was, nobody could say. Luna guessed it meant something to do with putting new shoes on the robots.
 
Arlowe touched a desk, and the two robots rumbled into action. Apparently, they took his action as a threat. The party had learned to deal with this model, and handily put them down. Ghartok shot one cleanly through the head and double tapped it. As for the other one, after it was battered into the ground by axe, sword, claws, and spear, Luna tried shoving new boots onto its feet. This didn't seem to have much effect on it, so someone cut the feet off completely.
 
The party then went through the door by the bloody curtain. On the other side was another workshop, this one with two pulverized orc corpses and a new model of robot. This one resembled an armored humanoid and clutched a glowing weapon.
 
The robot droned in Androffan as it approached the party. Luna provided some hasty translation as she cautiously walked towards it. She claimed it was saying something about gods or divinity just before it struck her with its stun baton. The robot's armored skin proved a strong defense, and another long fight ensued. Ultimately, Tiger Luna's distracting claws, Arlowe's acid splashes, Ghartok's ineffective bullets, and Luna's healing assisted Morgrym long enough for the dwarf to finally slice it open. Morgrym's new axe was also a decisive advantage.
 
The footless repair drone revived briefly. Without its feet it was no real threat, and it was quickly dispatched. The party then looted the room, taking the robot's weapon and a white security card, along with the orc's armor.
View
Life signs
 

The party stood before an alien in a chamber overlooking the false desert. Its feral gaze and shaking weapons did not foretell a peaceful first contact. To make matters worse, Burn was teleported to some unknown locale by an ancient trap. Thankfully, he had previously called in an ally. The party was joined by Arlowe the sorcerer monk of the goddess Shelyn. His mundane monastic garb belied his varied talents and heritage as an aasimar. Much like Luna, he too was descended from celestials.

Back to the alien encounter. The being from another world hurled a javelin at Luna, who sidestepped it. The party rushed in to retaliate and the alien was quickly surrounded. It tried its best, but could not stand up against an attack on all sides at once. His cloak caused a somewhat longer battle. The cloak had minor magical powers to protect its wearer against many forms of danger. Eventually, Morgrym was judged to be the most pragmatic choice despite Luna's entirely valid argument that her tiger would look so cool in a cape.

 

After that was resolved, the party used a black keycard to venture deeper into the ship. They found themselves in a large network of screens and hallways. One passage in particular was marked by an ominous trail of blood.After some dispute, the party began following the blood. The trail led first to and through a smallish room with a computer on one wall. The computer was displaying large amounts of text in the alien Androffan language, but none among the party could read it. At that point, Luna heard a voice in her head. Unlike the usual voices, this one was coming from outside her skull.

The voice sounded like an inquisitive little girl, and soon progressed to addressing the entire party at once. The voice had many questions about who and what the party was. Above all, it was concerned with finding "red food". This was, of course, blood. Morgrym looked under a shelf and made a disturbing discovery just as Luna made the mistake of telling the voice that humanoids were full of blood. Morgrym had found an alien blob-creature, which shrieked madly and charged as its telepathic voice screamed for blood.

Luna and Ghartok were nauseated by the shriek as the blob's tendrils warded off the tiger's claws. While the blob was occupied with the tiger Luna, Arlowe slashed it with his seven-branched sword. The blob yelped in pain before striking Morgrym with a tendril. It attempted to assault his mind, but Morgrym's will held out. The stymied blob then fell under the attacks of both Lunas.

After the creature fell, the party searched the room. The most notable discovery was a container of what looked like advanced guns. Ghartok tried firing one, but it clicked uselessly. With no way to reload the guns or otherwise make them work, the party moved on. The next significant find was a room full of medical equipment with a few beds. A hunched robot with white plating and needle fingers festooned with tubes carrying a blue fluid took notice of the party.

The medical drone advanced on them steadily, speaking its alien language in a monotone voice. Ghartok readied his gun and Arlowe used his magic to temporarily lengthen his arms for greater reach. The medical drone's intentions were proved hostile when it reached the party and suddenly stabbed its fingers deep into Morgrym's chest. The mighty barbarian shrugged off both the pain and the effects of the drugs it injected him with. Ghartok shot the robot, inflicting minor damage to an arm. Ghartok then rolled behind the robot, doding a swipe from the needle-claws as Tiger Luna and Arlowe pounced the robot. The medical drone tried in vain to catch Morgrym again for the last few moments of its operational life before Ghartok brought it down with a shot in the back.

 

Luna decided to try harvesting the fluid out of the fallen drone's tubes. Amazingly, despite not having any knowledge of the technology involved, she used some nearby test tubes and successfully collected intact samples of the drugs. After that fight, the party continued to search around the area for a few minutes without major incident beyond Luna causing trouble with various ancient devices. Among these technological wonders were test tubes filled with strange liquid and an electronic box that Morgrym took from the wall of a round central chamber at the price of a painful shock. The box seemed to be of relatively simple construction, and with his background as both a skymetal smith and a dwarf, Morgrym was confident he could fix it. The party also found the great wonder of a flush toilet, which Luna made sure to try out.

After all that, the party found what looked like a dormitory. A tube made of opaque glass sat in one corner, emitting the desperate thumping of a captive within. Two robots also guarded this chamber. One was another medical drone, but the other was an uglier, more utilitarian design made of a tougher brown metal and wielding a cannon.

The medical drone was soon brought down by Morgrym's savage biting, but the brown robot was made of sterner stuff. For a long while, the robot and the party were locked in a standoff. The robot's slow and awkward attacks were easy to dodge, but the party's weapons could not hope to penetrate its armor. Not even Morgrym's pick could leave a mark. Eventually, the party managed to burn the thing down with flaming pillow cases, Ghartok's powder reserve, and multiple acid splashes from Arlowe. The medical drone then tried to stand back up, but was quickly slapped back down.

The party freed the prisoner from the tube. It was Khonnir Baine, but he did not look the part of a famous wizard. Baine showed obvious signs of starvation and was scarred by experimentation. His mental faculties were also drained, but thankfully the damage wasn't permanent. The party decided to return Baine home and rest for a while before continuing their mission. They still needed to find out what had stopped Torch's purple fire. The party nearly missed some valuable treasures on their way out, but Arlowe made sure to check before leaving. As the party made a return trip through the false desert, none could help noticing that the previously black "sky" now looked like a natural field of stars. None among them would ever know that Luna's random button-mashing had both restored the sky and lifted the curse causing the skeletons to rise.

There was much rejoicing when the party brought Baine back to town. After Baine went home to recover and the party was given their reward for his return, the party returned to the Numerian archeologist they had previously met. As before, he identified their loot. The "guns" were actually flare guns, minus their flares. The tubes were actually concentrated meals. Finally, the medical drug Luna had recovered was an anesthetic. Morgrym's box was likely a critical piece of an elevator.

The party then took about a day off to work on various personal projects. Ghartok spent his time crouched in Baine's yard, toiling with a gunsmithing kit to produce more ammo. Morgrym repaired the elevator part and traded in his heavy pick for a sharpened great axe. Luna brushed up on her Androffan skills. It turned out that she had simply learned to read the old texts upside down. Once she corrected for that, she was able to understand the language. Arlowe simply bought a healing potion.

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The shipwreck

The party stood deep underground, looking upon the corpse of a vessel from beyond the sky. Someone turned to ask the skulks another question. They didn't get the chance, as the skulks had vanished into the shadows as soon as their business was complete. The party decided amongst themselves to finish up exploring the caverns before entering the downed spaceship. The first chamber they checked was covered in a rustlike brown mold. In the center of the room lay a decaying corpse. Ghartok recognized the corpse as an adventurer from Torch. There wasn't much to distinguish him, but he had been planning to marry soon. Ghartok also recognized the fungus carpeting the floor as poisonous russet mold. Luna entertained a dubious hope of saving the poor rogue. Fashioning a lasso from some rope, she made several attempts and finally managed to successfully snag him. In recovering the body, Luna was badly chilled by intense cold emanating from the room.

Examination of the body confirmed that he was in fact dead. The party tried burning away the poisonous mold, but the flames only caused it to spread. The party decided to leave the body there until they could figure out how to properly deal with it. In the last unexplored chamber sat three smelly mounds. Luna poked one and they lashed out, revealing themselves to be camouflaged slime molds.

 

Luna the oracle and Luna the tiger took out one each before Morgrym picked off the last one. After clambering past the infamous and near-insurmountable 5ft ledge once more, the party decided it was time to enter the ship. The unlocked doors slid aside with no effort and revealed an airlock with a dead repair drone.

It was much like the one Baine had brought back to his house. Like its counterpart, this one also suddenly revived and went on the attack when the party tried to bypass it. It only managed to land a few punches on Morgrym before being overwhelmed. Luna tried to dig a cog out of the dead robot, but gave up after finding the parts too well attached. Morgrym shoved the robot into the inside door of the airlock to keep it open. When he did that, it revived one more time and was promptly put down by Luna. A cog rolled out after the robot's final death. The oracle made sure to take it.

The party began exploring the dusty skymetal halls beyond the doors. Skeletons of multi-limbed aliens were scattered about the floors. With them were some bits of their inscrutable technology. Ghartok took a plier-like tool and Luna experimented with a device shaped something like a black stiletto. She couldn't find the use for it, but it did seem to vibrate slightly when placed near some other alien technology.

The party explored onward through abandoned labs and smashed cages. Eventually they opened a door to a strange sight. A desert with a black and starless sky stretched before them. Morgrym stepped forward, his dwarven senses still telling him that he was still underground despite the desert's appearance. Morgrym asked Luna for some healing before heading out. Luna responded by stubbornly refusing until Morgrym agreed to pet her tiger. With some reluctance, he did so. Morgrym was then distracted by the more pressing concern of a tentacled monster bursting from under the sand.

Ghartok's bullet and Morgrym's pick went wide as the creature jabbed and snatched at the dwarf with its tentacles. Burn rushed in with an awkward but solid blow from his hammer. The Lunas charged in. The tiger Luna was struck across the face by a tentacle for the reckless charge, but made it through to rip the core open and end the skirmish. The tiger noticed something strange beneath the sand and began to dig. With help, it found a bizarre mass of tendrils extended from the alien creature that had been hidden beneath the sand. Nobody really knew what to do about that, so the party moved on.

 

The party began trekking through the desert. At one point, a four-armed skeleton rose up before them. Green lights glowed in its empty sockets. It charged, flailing its many claws. The party clearly outmatched it, but its lack of blood and organs was a hindrance for those whose weapons were unsuited to crushing bone. Two more rose up to aid it after a moment of combat, these without glowing eyes. Burn knocked the first undead's skull from its neck and it fell inert.  When this happened, the glow transferred to another skeleton. Wave after wave of the skeletons began to join the battle.

The skeletons bit and scratched and were struck down again and again. For a moment they seemed overwhelming, but in the end their numbers were finite. The party stood battered but victorious among heaps of bones. The green glow continued to skip from host to host until the horde was completely depleted, at which point it vanished.

At the apparent other side of the desert-chamber was a wall. Morgrym was confused by it. The wall looked real, but his dwarven stonecunning told him it couldn't be. Luna tried walking through it and found it insubstantial. The party followed her through into another room filled with artificial light and twitching machinery. Luna found some slits in the wall that seemed to fit her stiletto-device. She tried inserting it. The result was initially a small electric shock into her arm. It was followed moments later by a blast of lightning that left her sprawled unconscious on the floor and scorched those unfortunate enough to be nearby. The smell of burnt dwarf beard and gnoll fur together was not something anyone wanted to ever experience again.

The party loaded their downed oracle onto the tiger's back and prepared to return to town. Morgrym stayed behind in the electric room for a bit, trying to figure out how it worked. He soon tripped an alarm. It babbled in an alien tongue and a siren blared. With that, day one of the adventure came to a close.

The next morning, the party rose and began heading around town to take care of certain things before resuming their quest. First was the sad work of informing the families of the fallen adventurers of the fate of their loved ones. The heartbroken fiancée of the adventurer slain by russet mold was initially confused about why her betrothed's body could not be returned right away, but the party promised to bring it back as soon as they could do so safely.

A nervous courier approached the party around this time. He relayed a message from a certain Garmen Ulreth.

Ulreth was a disreputable but influential man who ran a casino called the Silverdisk. He wanted to invite the party to visit the casino. The party agreed. Ghartok had misgivings about dealing with Ulreth, but went along so as not to insult him. When the party entered the casino, they were presented with some complimentary gambling tokens. Everyone took at least a fair shot at the wheels and slots, but Luna was particularly enthusiastic. She repeatedly bet it all on black until she couldn't continue. Garmen stopped by to greet the party, but there wasn't much of a conversation. At least nobody got hurt.

The party also paid a visit to the town's clerics about the russet mold. The clerics were glad tht the party had warned them about it, because russet mold could spawn into the inscrutable and often violent plantmen called vegepygmies if left to its own devices. They advised using pure alcohol to kill it. The party took their advice and were able to recover the body for proper disposal.

A few more details must be mentioned about the trip to the town. Burn finally became fed up with his impractical weapon. He purchased a fine rapier from a local smithy and began practicing a new, more agile dueling style in the style of the pirate swashbucklers of the Shackles. Ghartok restocked his ammuntion, and the party purchased a healing wand by selling one of the odd cards the skulks had given them. The party went to an expert on Numerian archeology to get their finds identified. Most were just old tools, but the cards seemed to be intended for unlocking doors within the ruined starship and Luna's "stiletto" was a form of lockpick called a "Black E-Pick". The slot that had electrocuted her was apparently a "power outlet".

After all this, the party returned to the room on the far side of the desert. The party hurried through the room with the outlet and used a card to get through a door. They found themselves in what looked like the control room. Buttons and faded screens flashed and blinked almost as fast as Luna could impulsively push them. She was reward with a blaring alarm, a holographic map of the desert, sparks, a dazzling light, a blood-drawing needle, and finally a distant explosion before someone finally stopped her.

The party pushed a bit deeper into the halls and took note of unusual drawiings on the walls.shortly before another new creature showed itself. It was a living alien in the flesh.

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