Decaying Lands 32: Plan C

PCs Present & Played:

Caleb, Fighter [farmer kit] (Just Yolks)
  Suzie, a stubborn but loyal mule
Jehan, Woodsman [reskinned Halfling] (Helpful Waffle)
  Walter, poacher
Tenkos, Cleric [plague doctor kit] (Sugarplum)
Viggo Marklund, Specialist [bounty hunter kit] (Peanut Butter)

Last time the party tried to figure out what they wanted to do in Stilton, met a drug dealer, shared (too much) cheese with another tourist, found out Captain Cuthill gets the milk shits, and Caleb got locked up in jail and made a friend.

So they went to bed, lulled to sleep by the steady rain. Everyone (except Walter) again had horrible nightmares filled with sadness, loss, and longing, but this time they all were able to remember the dreams. Each one dreamt of someone dear to them that they had lost. The dreams ended with a note of hopeful reunion before cutting out to black sleep once more.

Tenkos and Jehan must be lighter sleepers than everyone else because they were both woken up by a muffled scream on the edge of their unconscious awareness. Jehan quickly went to the window, listening again. He didn't hear another scream but he thought he heard a door slam off in the direction of the barn. He unfortunately couldn't see anything through the rain and the darkness of what felt like late night / early morning.

Tenkos meanwhile had already started rousing everyone else and collecting their gear. They reasoned that if anything went down tonight they might need to leave town as quickly as possible. They gathered themselves up and headed out into the rain, towards the jail.

They moved as quietly as they could through the rain and muck. Everything was soggy with the clinging cold of early fall.

The guard at the jail from before was still there, asleep with his head on the desk surrounded by several more empty pints. A single candle burned low on the corner of the desk.

Viggo quietly opened the door, heard the guard snuffling and snoring, and surveyed the shadowy jail. Caleb was whimpering like a dog in the cell, saying "Mason."

Viggo went in, stood over the guard with axe ready, while Jehan picked up the keys and opened the doors for the prisoners. Caleb shouted out "Where's Mason?!" but Jehan quickly capped his mouth and explained the situation. They broke out the other guy, too, and headed straight for the barn.

It was dark and cold and wet and muddy. The Prisoner (they never asked his name) was chomping at the bit to run straight into the barn and "get Cooper Thornhill." They managed to call him down and exercise some restraint as they approached the small side door into the barn.

Viggo went up and cased the door. No obvious trap mechanisms or locks. A quick twist and they were into the pitch black barn. Once everyone was in and the door was closed again they lit up a torch.

Viggo was worried about how easy it was to get inside. They followed a set of muddy footprints and muddy drag marks to the locked office door.

Viggo went to work, doing his thing on the lock, while Prisoner went to the storage room in the back. He began to dig through the cheese  wheels, weeping softly and looking for some evidence of his wife, curdled into the cheese wheels.

Tenkos corraled Prisoner out of the cheese storage and back to the office door just as Viggo deftly unlocked it. Feeling like shit was about to go down, they grabbed a pitchfork from the wall and gave both that and their torch to Prisoner.

Iconic! From: canuckotter on reaper forums

The party decided to send Prisoner into the office first, following their general "NPCs are meatshields" policy, and that's when shit hit the fan. They saw a generally messy office with a desk covered in papers and a crates all about. That was all they could take in before Prisoner saw the open trapdoor in the corner and went running straight for it! Jehan tried to grab him but ended up pushing the guy down the stairs and he went tumbling. Almost at the bottom they heard the ringing of a cowbell and then Prisoner shouting out.

They were cautious going down the steps, coming to a square room dominated in the center by a large stone statue of the most perfectly bovine cow you could ever have imagined. The cow was reclined on its side, surrounded by wheels of cheese and flagons of milk, also stone. Worshipful people genuflected in adoration and "partook of its udders" (as Peanut Butter later described it, aka milked it). There was also a body off to the side which the players recognized from a description Cooper's sister in law had given them of a prior agent she had hired to steal the cheese's recipe. They quickly ransacked his clothing and continued on.

Down the end of the hall, in between a number of wooden stalls, they saw Cooper and the Prisoner. Prisoner looked confused and Cooper looked convincing as he spoke to the man. It was hard to make out their words until they saw Cooper hold out a metal flask and exclaim:

"If you drink this you'll get to see your wife again!"

Prisoner looked hesitant, but tipped back the metal flask and drank. He wiped his mouth, gave the flask back to Cooper, and almost immediately after double over in agony and began screaming. His skin rippled and swam as his flesh rearranged itself, muscles flexing and doubling in size. When the transformation was over the prisoner stood, meaty and stopped, like the brutish brigand and Ralph the farmboy before him.

Sidebar: I ran side-based initiative with re-rolls every round for this. I thought the chaos of not knowing who would go next might add some excitement. It also made me think of Troika!, which is always a lovely thing. The Kickstarter may be over now but it will always kickstart my heart <3. Keep an eye out for the Numinous edition when it drops.

The party opened up without hesitation. Now is not the time for talking! When they rushed forward, however, they were greeted with the pitiful occupants of the wooden stalls. Each had a misshapen hump of flesh chained to the wall inside. Their initial revulsion was only increased when they began to recognize human body shapes in the flesh: eyes with too loose flesh drooping out of the skull, a cloven hoof bursting at the wrong angle from a forearm, udders bursting from the skin regardless of human or leathery appearance, and other sights that they did their best to forget.

There were some whiffs all around, possibly due to the disturbing sights surrounding them, but the party also had an emphasis on trying to disable Cooper and Prisoner. A crossbow bolt went through Cooper's leg eventually but then he drank the milk! He also fell back towards one of the last pens. The creature in this one was not changed to the wall and it bleated with more anguish than fear or pain.

Viggo would not relent in pursuing Cooper but the cheesemaker, now surging with strength, changed tactics and tried to pin Viggo down. Fortunately for our bounty hunter Cooper was not able to execute his end plan because Caleb came over and ripped Thornhill off of his friend. Meanwhile Jehan, after trying many times to connect in the dark and chaotic melee, finally slashed the tiniest little cut in Prisoner's throat, dropping him.

Cooper seemed like he was getting desperate as he ran deeper into the back of the basement. A raw and ragged moo roared out from the darkness as he ran into a large room. The party followed him in as quickly as they could and quickly beheld a monstrous bovine chained against the far wall. If the cow statue at the entrance was the ideal of everything a cow could be this creature was the stolidly thick aspect of a cow multiplied a hundredfold and condensed into pure muscle and hurt. Every time a new person entered the room it struggled and pulled against the chains.

The beast-cow was so impressive it was a few moments before anyone even noticed the large, stone arch on the raised platform in the center of the room. There were unknown runes all over the side pillars and, on the top, a sunburst motif surrounding a simplified drawing of a cow. Purple jolts of energy shot between the three stone blocks that made up the squared archway.

Cooper ignored the archway and ran straight towards the cow. Jehan tried to take out Cooper with his heavy crossbow before he could get to the cow (after Viggo tackled him) BUT Jehan he rolled a 1. One of the players (maybe Jehan's, can't recall) suggested "Oh I bet it hits the cow!" 


It sure had a chance to now! Annnnnnd BOOM, that is one pissed off cow. It thrashed, it howled, and it broke free.


Caleb chopped up Cooper (in HALF) and everyone ran to get out. There were some tense moments on the initiative rolls but eventually everyone got to the stairs and up and out without anyone dying. Walter was probably the only one in immediate danger of getting one-shot by the humongous raging cow but Jehan had wisely told him to stay in the back and immediately run if shit hit the fan. Walter listened very well. Jehan had also thought to grab some prominently displayed papers on a stone shelf on the way out, hoping for some tidbit of valuable information.

We ended the session with everyone up in the office, middle of the night (best they can tell), berserk monster cow below, and no idea where Caleb, Jehan, or Walter got off to. They could hear the cow's raging moos and feel it bash against the stone of the narrow stairwell, unable to follow.

Sidebar: Uncertainty in game life because Caleb and Jehan's players both have to take a break from the game. Jewel's player also has to take a break but there should be an increase to the party soon!

Side sidebar: Caleb's player later said that Caleb "executed Plan C just no one else was in on it." Don't eat the cheese in Stilton, folks.