Session 1 (18th August 2014)
The game was run using/in Exile Game Studio‘s awesome Hollow Earth Expedition which I can’t recommend enough. Obviously if you’re likely to end up being a player in this adventure (in this case the sample adventure in the core book) the following will contain spoilers.
Harry, Gideon and Lambert stood with Roald Amundsen facing the snarling gigantic ape-men as they pounded their clubs on the ground in unison and roaring an unmistakeable challenge at the small group. Even as Harry and Gideon were reaching for their guns Roald’s voice rang out and while the language was unfamiliar it was also instantly understandable as a command to stop. The ape-men immediately reacted, not only stopping their roaring and pounding but they also stepped back to make way for Roald and the group. Surprised the group followed Roald who didn’t elaborate on the encounter but simply led them deeper into the city towards the ever larger tower of Orichalcum.
As they finally drew close enough to the tower to see the courtyard outside it they saw this was crowded with at least a dozen Nazi soldiers being led by a tall man with piercing blue eyes who perfectly fit the description of Von Wartenburg. Four of the soldiers were carrying from the base of the vast copper coloured tower a single huge greenish crystal, fully four feet tall and no less than eight feet long, on a sort of makshift stretcher. After a hurried discussion Harry drew her Winchester shotgun and took a long and careful aim on Von Wartenburg aiming to cut the head off the expedition, and indeed the man, and thus stop the expedition without the need for a prolonged fire fight.
Taking a deep breath Harry squeezed the trigger just as Von Wartenburg stepped backwards, the burst taking him instead in the shoulder and throwing him to the ground. Luckily at that moment, as the troops whirled to focus on Harry’s hiding place in the shadow of a nearby building, ape-men burst from the far side of the tower killing several soldiers in their rush forwards. Several more of the soldiers opened fire with their stubby machine guns at the oncoming charge, cutting down one or two of their assailants but failing to stop the overall charge. Two huge brutes rounded the tower’s base and leapt towards the vast crystal. As it seemed certain that they would strike it Von Wartenburg’s voice echoed round the courtyard with the same command that Amundsen had used scarcely twenty minutes before and, as had happened then, the ape-men suddenly halted in their tracks commanded as they were in this ancient tongue. There was a moment’s pause where it seemed that the whole world held it’s breath to see what would happen next…
Arnie meanwhile led Bernard and the Doctor through the outskirts of the city making for the port area, constantly aware of the risk of being spotted. Without incident they reached the jetties and got within 50 foot of the German U-boat but to their bitter disappointment at least ten more Nazi storm troopers clustered on the deck and jetty. Staying out of sight the group tried to work out what they could do to distract these troops in order to give them a chance of reaching and disabling the deck gun. The sound of distant gunfire brought the submersible’s guards into action, hurried discussions were followed by a flurry of activity as weapons were grabbed and readied. This was not what Arnie and his team were hoping to see happen.
As the temporary pause in all activity by the tower stretched toward breaking point Amundsen’s voice suddenly rang out. Again the ancient, unknown but instantly understandable tongue was heard but this time it’s command was different and in obedience to it one of the ape-men brought it’s massive club down full on the middle of the crystal. Immediately cracks started to spread out across the surface of this colossal gem. A purple glow began deep in it’s core, at first faintly but quickly pulsing more and more intensely with a noticeable throbbing of the air accompanying it. Harry fired off a shot at the massive crystal as she turned and with her companions ran as quickly as possible from the tower. As they ran the pulsing throbbed through the very ground itself in ever increasing amplitude. Stones and dust showered down from the roofs of nearby buildings as they reached the outskirts of the city and before they made the tree line all could feel the tension pressing in on their skulls.
Suddenly the air was sucked backwards towards the centre of the city. There was a moment’s silence and then a blinding pillar of purple light shone out into the sky and an ever growing hemisphere grew from the exploding tower, rushing outwards flattening buildings in it’s way. Barely two hundred yards from where they stood the explosive force stopped suddenly leaving in it’s wake an incredible vista of destruction. Only as they collapsed in exhaustion did the group realise that Roald was no longer with them.
At the docks all took cover from the explosive onslaught within the city. Once the destruction was at an end the soldiers formed up and ran into the city to discover what had become of their brethren. At this unlooked for opportunity Arnie, Bernard and the Doctor ran low to the u-boat and scaled it’s sides. Dr Lynch ran to the front hatch and finding some chain nearby it tied it securely shut to ensure reinforcements couldn’t surprise them from this passage. Bernard reached the deck gun and quickly realised that by removing the main firing coupling he could disable the gun. He quickly set about the task. Simultaneously Arnie had taken barely five steps towards the conning tower when a Nazi soldier stepped from behind it looking in shock and surprise at the explorer. Without hesitating Arnie raised his gun and pulled the trigger, the blow caught the German in the shoulder even as he went for his machine gun and span him sideways off the deck and into the sea. The second soldier to round the conning tower was prewarned by the fate of his comrade and already had his pistol out shooting Arnie in the arm. Dr Lynch dived out from behind Arnie and the final soldier went down in their combined assault.
As Bernard continued working on the deck gun Arnie scaled the conning tower. Using his zippo he lit the fuse on one of their homemade explosives and then dropped it down into the interior slamming and locking the hatch after it. As Bernard threw the coupling from the canon into the sea a muffled explosion rattled the U-boat and smoke belched from the now buckled hatch. Leaving the now useless submersible they headed inland through the edges of the city that were still standing.
As Harry, Gideon and the Professor searched for the trail they had followed to arrive at the city they saw a green very light fired from between their position and the dock area of the city. As the Aurora returned over the hillside they surmised that there was a good chance that this had been a signal to it from one or more of their party and went stealthily to investigate.
All were surprised when as the Aurora approached the outskirts of the city Harry, Gideon and the Professor rejoined Arnie, Bernard and Dr Lynch ready to be lifted to the relative safety of the airship for the return journey back to the surface world and civilisation, stopping only briefly for Harry to retrieve some orichalcum for “study by the scientific community”.