Session 2 (1st September 2014)
All adventure logs from this series are listed here.
The game was run using/in Exile Game Studio‘s awesome Hollow Earth Expedition which I can’t recommend enough. Normally I’d warn of spoilers however this adventure was pretty much improvised so this is unlikely to be the case.
Having rejoined the Aurora it was quickly decided that with the Thule Society expedition not only foiled but stranded and with no sign of Amundsen the best course of action was to return to the surface world, report what they’d found and plan a return expedition better equipped for the unique challenges of this environment.
Skirting the coast to their original landing point Captain Bennett and Karl Mathers plotted the course they hoped would return them to the surface. Given the lack of a working compass, radio beacon, maps and the perpetual noon it was accepted that it would be unlikely that a perfect trace of their course would be managed. After a couple of hours high cliffs below them on the port side proved that some navigational errors had occurred. As the crew were discussing whether to retrace their steps or attempt to correct course a sighting was made of a group of shapes high above the airship on the starboard side. Use of binoculars quickly identified a large group of pterosaurs whose course was definitely dropping towards the Aurora.
As the enormous beasts swooped ever closer to the airship it swung it’s course inland and accelerated in order to out pace them. A large clearing appeared through in the jungle ahead of them and at the same time a second group of pterosaurs was seen dead ahead. Caught between two groups of ravenous flying dinosaurs course was altered to try to get down in the clearing where the ungainly beasts would be loathed to follow.
Harry explained a plan to the group to parachute into the clearing and try to draw off some of the attackers using a flare gun and possibly her shotgun. Bernard volunteered his new prototype chute and ever up for a challenge Harry proceeded to strap into it as Joe and Clint manned the Arora’s 50 calibre machine guns. As the Aurora banked over the clearing, heavy machine guns chattering at the winged devils looming in the sky, Harry launched herself into the air from the gondola. Plummeting earthwards the chute billowed out behind her and she made as controlled a landing as was possible from such a low altitude. As the gigantic silver machine threw its engines into reverse and started to loose height Harry sprinted to the tree line. Stopping almost under the eaves of the primeval jungle she drew and fired the flare gun at the pursuing swarm of leather winged horrors. The very light flew through the pack of aerial monsters but did not much distract them from the object of their murderous attention. As the fated machine tried to loose height the talons of the leading beasts ripped into the envelope tearing huge rents in its duraluminium skin.
Watching from her vantage point by the trees as the machine guns vainly tried to get enough elevation to hit their targets without endangering the already damaged envelope and its potentially explosive contents Harry realised the Aurora was doomed. Loosing altitude rapidly it quickly reached a height where the winged monstrosities wheeled away leaving the stricken vessel to it’s fate. As the hopelessness of trying to save the Aurora sunk in Harry’s guts clenched with fear at the sound of a guttural animal roar from the jungle behind her and she felt massive convulsions shaking the ground. Running seemed the best course of action and she had barely got fifty feet from the trees when the gigantic Tyrannosaurus Rex broke through the last of the jungle behind her bellowing its mighty challenge.
Captain Bennett and Karl fought to put the doomed airship down near the far edge of the clearing, the venting of the hydrogen from the envelope changing the lift by the second. From the rear of the Arora’s gondola as Arnie supplemented Joe’s machine gun fire with his Winchester rifle he glanced down to see the huge roaring beast break into the clearing charging after the fleeing figure of Harry. Arnie was trying to get a bead on the massive reptile as Captain Bennett yelled out a warning to brace for a rough landing. Everyone grabbed whatever they could to steady themselves as the gondola touched down and the whole airship bounced and skipped sideways before coming to rest on it’s right side, the envelope between the occupants and rest of the clearing where Harry was being chased down by the mighty dinosaur.
As the massive superstructure of the Aurora hammered into the ground Harry heard the Tyrannosaurus bellow a new furious challenge at this new and strange adversary. Glancing behind her she saw the massive charging beast veer off on a direct course towards the airship and decided this was her chance to charge for the cover of the jungle while no longer the centre of attention. Upon gaining the tree line she immediately scrambled up the closest large tree in case the airship only provided a brief respite from her gigantic foe.
Within the Aurora the scene was chaotic as everyone disentangled themselves from the aftermath of the crash. Arnie, quickly followed by the Professor who had grabbed a rifle and ammunition during the aerial pursuit, leapt from the back of the gondola and sprinted along the length of the envelope to see if he could lend aid to Harry before the Tyrannosaurus caught her. Captain Bennett and Clint grabbed their rifles and sprinted towards the front of the envelope for the same purpose. Joe and Karl disconnected the heavy machine gun and grabbing ammunition and their personal kit also got free of the gondola. They were joined in retreating to the tree line, in the direction that Joe had earlier glimpsed a river, by the Doctor with his medical and personal kit. Only Bernard remained in the gondola, desperately trying to drag his precious tool chest clear.
Captain Bennett was the first to reach the end of the envelope and while not able to see Harry was confronted with the sight of five tons for slavering predator with dozens of six inch teeth charging at full speed towards his airship. Raising his rifle to his shoulder and taking aim at the immense beast he held his breath and squeezed down on the trigger.
Having climbed high enough to avoid any further attention from the Tyrannosaurus Harry turned to see it closing with the now settled airship. Taking her flare pistol she carefully aimed away from the airship but above the massive lizard she fired hoping to distract the beast once again. The flare arced gently out from the trees curving above and slightly in front of the Tyrannosaurus.
By the airship Captain Bennett’s shot rang out as the flare crossed it’s Zenith.
The gas that had been belching from the massive rents in the top of the envelope ignited and a huge ejaculation of flame thrust out from the crippled ship. As it charged headlong towards the unexpected explosion the massive beast desperately tried to reverse it’s progress. Massive legs straining to check it’s rush the beast was too late and was fully engulfed by the superheated, burning gas. Pockets of gas in directions both forward and aft of the central inferno exploded one after the next, a pulsing wave of fire spreading at an amazing speed along the massive silver cigar.
Captain Bennett and Clint at the front and Harry and Lambert at the back fled from the fiery waves of death. Joe, Carl and the Doctor were already most of the way to the tree line as the first spout of flame vomited out however Bernard was still within the gondola when he heard and felt the initial ignition. Dropping everything and rushing through the madly tilted carnage of the cabin he threw himself from the craft and fled with all his might. Behind him the expanding flaming gas caught and while managing to out pace the flame itself the superheated air threw him onwards badly burning his back and removing most of the hair from the back of his head.
Caught up in the sheer spectacle of the explosion and the burning Tyrannosaurus Harry did not at first hear the sounds in the trees behind her. Suddenly she became concious of the sounds that she’d been hearing and turning to look behind her realised that in trees only a short distance from hers lurked the shadowed figures of gigantic ape-men. Attempts at copying Amundsen’s commands by the tower of Orichalcum were met with only spears and roars, as were attempts to communicate in English, French and Norwegian. Sheltering behind the gigantic tree from a shower of spears she rapidly rappelled to ground level and fled.
As the group of 10 feet tall monsters lopped out from between the towering trees she turned and walking slowly backwards fired off both barrels of her shotgun at them. Hitting two of the attackers seemed to give the entire group pause and again she tore off across the clearing heading as close to the edge of the burning airship as she dared hoping that maybe the fire might check the advance of the primitive creatures.
Captain Bennett and Clint reached the trees and turned to survey the burning pile of melting metal that until recently had been their pride and joy. Leaning back against a tree, John Bennett lit up a cigarette and offered one to Clint, inhaling deeply before blowing out a philosophical cloud of smoke.
Arnie also stopped once far enough to be safe from the burning pyre of metal that had been the group’s only transport away from this strange world. He turned to watch the wreckage as the Professor pantingly caught up with him. Gradually his attention drifted from the immense spectacle in front of him with the realisation that out of the corner of his eye Harry was charging towards him with several dozen immense ape-men chasing him, whooping as they came. Taking a deep breath both Arnie and the Professor set off once again this time towards Harry. Stopping after 100 yards both raised their rifles, aiming carefully and pumped several volleys into the horde. While the Professor’s shots were not quite on target Arnie managed down one of the massive creatures which stopped the puzzled group to whom firearms were an entirely new experience. As the three explorers retreated once again Joe and Karl brought the Browning heavy machine gun into play from an improvised rock tripod. Laying down suppressing fire and downing several more of the monstrous pursuers the crewman gave the beast’s prey enough breathing space to gain the tree line with their comrades.
As the Captain and Clint finished their cigarettes both heard from behind them the sounds of large creatures approaching at speed through the forest behind them. Clint immediately turned and sprinted for the rest of the crew as they first brought the Browning into play to cover Arnie, Harry and the Professor. Captain Bennett decided that a better plan was to simply throw himself into long grass near the trees and hope that he remained hidden from view.
The Professor, Arnie and Harry reached the relative safety of Joe and Karl’s machine gun emplacement as the doctor finished tending to Bernard’s burns and glancing across to their left were aware of another host of ape-men chasing Clint towards them. Joe and Karl split their fire between the two approaching groups and Clint, terrified and out of breath, reached them unmolested. Of Captain Bennett there was no sign.
All but Joe, Karl and the Doctor fell back through the trees behind them and found after only 20 yards another open area of grass while another 20 yards further on a large fast flowing river blocked further movement. A large raft, fully 15′ long and 10′ wide, was unexpectedly resting on the bank near them. This unlooked for good fortune was not to be ignored and the group quickly got to work preparing to push it off into the river shouting to Joe, Karl and the Doctor to follow them quickly.
In the clearing two groups of ape-men still advanced, converging on the improvised machine gun nest. The doctor drew another of his homemade explosive devices and timing it perfectly lit and threw it out to where the ape-men were about to meet. As the explosion instantly stopped the advance of the attackers Joe and Karl grabbed the Browning and following the doctor sprinted through the dense woodland. As they broke the cover of the woods onto the swath of grass before the river the sounds of pursuit again picked up behind them. The raft entered the water almost as they reached the bank and scrambling aboard. They pushed off as the ape-men emerged from the jungle roaring at the sight of their quarry on the river on the ape-men’s own raft.
In the clearing John Bennett kept his head low and was relieved to hear the sounds of the ape-men pass him. As the sounds of the attackers receded he scrambled to his feet and decided that his best course of action was to push through the jungle on his right in the hopes of making his way to where his comrades in arms were valiantly defending their position further round the clearing. Pushing through the jungle he emerged onto the bank of the river downstream and around a bend from where the sounds of battle had until recently been filtering. While trying to decide on how he could best aid his fellow explorers the raft came around the bend in the river close to the bank with ape-men in hot pursuit on his side of the river. Having attracted their attention he leapt to the raft as it pulled close into the bank, rejoicing at his salvation.
As soon as the Captain was aboard all who had implements to do so paddled and poled the raft out into the middle of the river. Anywhere seemed better than close to the ferocious ape-men who were keeping pace with the raft and bellowing challenges at them from the river bank. Trying to cross the fastest currents in middle of the river the obvious choice was to obtain the far bank where they could take enough time to plan a reasonable course of action.
The raft was almost at the opposite bank when unwelcome shadowed shapes became visible in the undergrowth that was being approached. The raft’s travel was checked barely 10 yards from the bank which proved to be a wise course of action as half a dozen velociraptors burst through the dense foliage.
We leave our small band, paddling back into the middle of the river. Where velociraptors on the left and ape-men on the right keep pace with their raft, both groups eager to visit violence on them. They have nowhere to go but to continue on and discover where the current will take them.
Coming in November – The River Of Death…