Far From Home

Self-Discovery 01 - Landing

Courtesy of Joe (Dominic)

It was the first such trip in history. 225 people, sent to investigate and colonize a new planet. A planet that, like Earth, could actually support life. And on this voyage were six extraordinary individuals, who would find that there was far more to this journey than a simple trip.

It was all going fine until they reached Rama, the new planet. It was about when the computer-controlled shuttle was about to breach the atmosphere that everything started going wrong. It completely went to hell when the shuttle burst into flames and crash-landed on the new planet’s surface.

The fireball was quickly followed by the three other shuttles, the first of which carried the six individuals, which proceeded to crash-land in only a slightly more controlled manner than the first shuttle after proximity to the planet shut off all mechanics, from the ship’s engine to pocket watches. It seemed like they were going land somewhat safely, with the pilot managing to control the descent to a point where they probably wouldn’t ALL die on impact.

Then they hit a dragon.

What happened next was unclear, because the dragon throwing the shuttle caused everyone to black out. When they woke up, they were in the wreckage of the shuttle, surrounded by shards of metal and lots of fire, and were almost immediately beset by a half dozen horrible creatures that could best be described as Amputee Apes from Hell, or AAH for short. This was decided when that was what everyone shouted when they saw the beasts.

Somehow the passengers managed to fend off the AAH, with only three casualties. Those people were unfortunately forgotten in the face of the staggering horror of their situation, which only worsened when a dozen more of AAH appeared. The passengers quckly retreated, moving as fast as they could with all of their wounded and unconscious. They eventually found safe haven in a nearby abandoned settlement, with only a dozen houses and a single tower in the middle of nowhere. It was in there that they hoped to find some answers…

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Self Discovery 02 - Ghost Town

Courtesy of Joe (Dominic)

Our intrepid heroes had come upon a small settlement of abandoned huts, looking for a place to rest their heads in this strange land. Surprisingly, they found that the entire settlement was completely empty, with nothing living left in the area. They managed to find a few houses that were mostly intact, and they stationed themselves there, making their wounded as comfortable as possible (which really wasn’t much). Several sweeps of the settlement turned up a sword made of some unknown metal, a staff that violated several laws of physics, and several indecipherable scrolls. It wasn’t until that night that things got interesting.

In the “Oh God, oh God, we’re all going to die” sort of way, at least. During the night, after moving some of the survivors to the church (which was a more structurally sound building), the first two buildings came under attack by a small pack of horrible rat-wolf things. There was no time for witty acronyms this time, as the things were only noticed after they had already killed one of the guards. Thankfully that was the only casualty, and Rodney and James were able to drive the beasts away before anyone else died. Unfortunately, it was one of their guards that had died, and martial prowess was not an easily renewable resource.

The next day came without much ado, with a funeral pyre held for the deceased and one final sweep made of the town, turning up nothing but an odd metal wand found in a collapsed inn. While that was being done, Dr. Collins stumbled upon a walkway of sorts that led through the lake in the middle of town to the tower that stood in the middle, which the group took to explore the one possible source of answers they had in this place.

However, the answers they hoped for turned out to be little more than more questions. Throughout the tower they found sites of attacks, with dried blood, decayed skeletons, and destroyed rooms. Weapon and armor racks adorned many of the rooms, but each had been ransacked already for the equipment, and little was left for the survivors. The tower seemed to be abandoned, but as Rodney, Dominic, and James explore the underground basement and Smith, Dr. Collins, and Peter explore the upper floors, they hope to find some reason for these awful spectacles…

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Self-Discovery 04 - The Darkness and the Light

Courtesy of Joe (Dominic)

The night after the lightning-induced forge fire was an eventful one for our intrepid not-yet-heroes. They were visited that night by very strange dreams, each with their own message (though some were just as cryptic as you would expect). Whether or not those messages will be useful, or possibly harmful to certain people, has yet to be seen. But each person awoke the next morning, none the worse for wear.

That day started out slowly, with some mostly uneventful searching around the town and the tower, though Rodney explored the mines near the outskirts of town to find a deposit on metal much like the material in the sword Peter fround in the forge. Meanwhile, Dominic examined the forge while Dr. Collins read a tome he found, leaving Father Langdon and Peter to amuse themselves. And thus did they entertain themselves until sunset, when they had promised to meet the Dragon-man (Trogdor?)

Once they had reached his room on the top floor of the tower, the Dragon-man led them back down to the basement, revealing a secret passage that led deep under the ground, where they found the first of three trials that they would face in order to prove themselves as Dragons.

The first room they came to was filled with the corpses of animals, explained by the Dragon-man as the chamber of the Power of Self and Nature. The group was at quite a loss at what to do, though Dominic attempted to collect trophies to assert dominance and Dr. Collins tried taking an animal apart to find useful parts. Peter suggested eating the corpses, but it wasn’t until Rodney actually took a bite that the door to the next room opened. The group passed through the room, with Rodney ignoring his growing indigestion.

The second room was explained as the chamber of Borrowed Power. This was a series of identical rooms, interconnected by a series of archways. Despite several attempts by Dr. Collins and Peter to find a way through, each attempt only took them back to the start point. Taking their cue from the apparent mysticism of the room, Dominic, Rodney, and Father Langdon all began to pray to various beings for guidance, asking the God Ryllor, the dream being Morpheus, or whatever it was Rodney prayed to, and they simply began to stand and walk through the hallways, taking different paths but ending up at the same place; both where they started, and not.

The final room was the chamber of Study, where every surface was covered with runes. It didn’t take the group long to attempt to trace the runes with their various artifacts, though it wasn’t until they removed the light from the room that they saw the patterns that they needed to follow. Tracing each of the five lines across the room, they expected the doorway to the next room to open, and so were rather surprised when the floor gave out beneath them.

They landed in a room filled with skulls, but not from any creature that they recognized. They appeared to be an odd mix of reptilian and canine, but they had features that neither possessed. The Dragon-Man said that these were skulls of dragons, and told the group to find one that would then grant them the power that they needed for the coming journey. Choosing one, each member of the group felt a completely alien power surging through their body, quickly followed by darkness, and a deep, powerful rumbling. Not that any of them were surprised that something else had gone wrong.

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Self-Discovery 05 - Death is Coming

Courtesy of Joe (Dominic)

The group had just finished the ritual with the Dragon-Man when suddenly the lights went out and the earth began shaking, shocking them all out of the reverie induced by their new power. They began to search for ways out of the cavern (except for Dr. Collins, who was fascinated by his new ability to make light), but found nothing but a lot of stone in the large domed cavern they found themselves in. There was absolutely nothing in there at all, actually. At least until the giant blade-meat-worm-beast appeared.

The beast burst out of the ground like an alien in a bad sci-fi movie, and immediately began attacking the group, who still had very little idea what was going on. Thankfully, Peter’s mind very quickly changed to its “kill” setting, and began to attempt to fight the beast despite being inside it. The rest of the group quickly followed suit, finding that they were much more effective at general combat than they used to be. Dominic and Dr. Collins in particular found that, while they didn’t appear to be much stronger physically than before, they were now capable of acts of what could only be called magic. As the group fought against the massive beast and a small number of its skeletal companions, they eventually emerged victorious. They followed the trail that the beast had left behind through the earth, eventually emerging above-ground again. Unfortunately, what they found wasn’t much better than what they had seen below ground.

The town was in ruins, apparently having been attacked by the bladed meat worms, and the church was completely rubble and one of the buildings that housed the wounded had collapsed. As they checked on everyone, it became apparent that most people had survived, though there were a few casualties. Unfortunately, there was no time to rest. Almost immediately, a shape was seen in the sky flying towards the settlement, and a Griffin crash-landed, carrying what seemed to be a bird-person whose language Peter, for some reason, could speak. They spoke for a little while, and the bird-person (Magperson?) informed Peter that something called a Bloodswarm was coming this way, and if they didn’t want to die, they all needed to leave NOW. Seeing no reason to not believe it, they ran back to town and began organizing the people to leave immediately. They had just about organized everything when Rodney noticed a terrible problem: there weren’t enough people to carry the wounded.

He informed Dominic of this problem, and Dominic knew that he had to decide who would get to live. There was a short period of terrible deliberation, then Dominic decided that the captain’s wife and son, Alan, Edward, and a single person of no real consequence would have to be left behind, due to the fact that that they were either fatally wounded, would be of no real use, or both. After Dominic told the bad news to the rest of the group, Dr. Collins, Rodney, and Peter saw the necessity of the action, while Father Langdon at first strongly objected, then finally relented, though he told Dominic that this was unforgivable. Dominic also informed his sister, who in turn informed him that she wished it was him who was dying, which Dominic couldn’t argue with. After sending most of the group off with a well-told lie, Dominic and Rodney disposed of the bodies of the unfortunate, then moved on to meet the rest of the group, praying that things would soon get better.

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Self-Discovery 07 - Amateur Spelunking

By Mike (James)
After much exhausting travel with the bloodswarm closing in, the survivors could see an emerald city at the end of the road. An ominous rumbling, the beat of the drums of war approach behind the survivors. All hope seems lost as the swarm is closes in and there is not enough time to escape to the city. At what seemed to be the last possible moment a Father Langdon noticed a small entrance to a cave that could provide a spot for the survivors to hide.

Father Langdon led the group into the cave, The cart and rations were left behind and smashed so it could cover the cave’s entrance. Once inside Rodney noticed a small riverbed path that led deeper into the cave. Father Langdon and Dr. Collins led the way while Peter and Dominic stood near the entrance. Almost half of the survivors were able get down the path, when a scratching sound began to emanate from the entrance. The group was almost out of view, but they were spotted by a skeletal creature that let out a bloodcurdling scream to signal for more creatures. Peter, Rodney and Dominic held the creatures back while the survivors could continue escaping. They bought much needed time for the survivors and Father Langdon and Dr. Collins led them down what they hope was a path toward the city.

Rodney decided to serve as a decoy and lead the skeletal swarm down another path. He managed to get all the swarm following him and he ran without any particular direction in mind and happened to escape them and possibly cause them to fall down a long crevasse.

Another fork in the path caused some panicked survivors to find themselves lost in the caves. Dr. Collins doubled back and was able to find a few stragglers and lead them to the rest of the group. Father Langdon took a risk and decided they should head down a path that was freshly carved by a Groundbreaker, but this path lead directly to the city. after some travel they found themselves at an emerald glowing stone wall. the path went toward the surface.

At the surface Dr. Collins noticed that they were just outside the city and scaling the wall would be impossible with the wounded. Even worse the Bloodswarm was lining up in formation in preparation for taking the city by storm. The survivors went back into the caves to find another exit. Peter and Dr. Collins searched for a way out while the remaining survivors rested in an large opening in the heart of the cave. Dominic and Father Langdon kept watch and searched near the group for and dangers or possible exits.

Rodney continued down the cave where he noticed some green glowing ore. He followed it and found a stone door with a mechanism for opening it. After a few tries he was able to open it and go through. Through the door he found inhabitants similar to the ones depicted at the monastery found earlier. Rodney realized he was able to communicate with the “Grey Men” and asked for help and told them of his party’s plight. He was brought to the city elder and he told of his companions and their abilities. Upon hearing of Dr. Collin’s ability to command the elements a search party was sent because they believe that he can turn the tide of this siege.

Peter and Dr. Collins searched for hours looking for ways out and marking their progress on the cave walls. They eventually find the same entrance that Rodney had found earlier. Unfortunately, they were unable to understand or speak with the Grey Men but they were brought into the city. They met with Rodney and the search party Rodney and Dr. Collins stayed in the city to prepare for the siege, while Peter reunited with the survivors and led them to the city. The wounded are being tended to, fed and our heroes prepare for the fight of their lives.

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Self-Discovery 09 - Escape from the Emerald City

By Joe (Dominic)

Realizing that their only hope to stop the Bloodswarm from overrunning the city of the Grey Men was to go past the Swarm and attempt to find the battlefield where it all started, the group began to search for ways out of the city. Their only find, however, was a system of caverns deep beneath the city. Unwilling but without recourse, the group began to plot their journey under the city and the Swarm to get to the battlefield. Gathering supplies around the town, they outfitted themselves as best they could with what they could find, selling the gems that Dominic had found previously, giving them enough funds to purchase components for rituals, as well as give the rest of the survivors enough to get by until they returned, assuming they ever did.

After taking on several more passengers (including Mordecai, a Grey Man merchant, and the Content Not Found: do-sara who would lead them to the battlefield once they reached the surface), they began to make their way down to the caverns, filled with supposedly unspeakably terrible horrors from hell. Or so they had been told. There was no actual evidence of these beings down there, but it’s what everyone said was down there.

Once in the caverns, all seemed rather benign until about ten minutes into the actual caves, when they found a large area with two branching pathways. It was here that they found the first hints of evil, with a band of six skeletons assaulting them, actively seeking their destruction. One hard-won fight later, nearly seeing both Dr. Collins and their guide go down, they managed to recollect themselves and press on down the caverns, heading on deeper.

The next tunnel they found was round with smooth walls, as though something had dissolved the rock away, though they were all baffled as to what could have done that. The answer came in the form when a clear blob dropped from the ceiling onto Dr. Collin’s head, which revealed itself to be some form of Gelatinous Cube, which demonstrated its acidic powers on Dr. Collin’s clothing, though it had apparently no effect on human skin (thankfully). With it in tow, they kept walking as the tunnel shifted from sheer rock into a tunnel filled with crystals, each reflecting light in new directions. It was here that they heard an odd sound in front of them that they couldn’t quite identify…

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Self-Discovery 10 - The Coldest Night

By Joe (Dominic)
The sound turned out to be emanating from behind them, as well as in front. As the source became louder, they were beset by several ludicrously large cockroaches, causing Peter to nearly wet himself, as well as freaking out the rest of the group no end. At least until the rest of the COUS’s ran by, followed by the thing they were running from; floating spheres of acid surrounded by broken glass. They were very hostile, and needless to say, incredibly unpleasant to fight. And of course, the group had to fight them. Floating spheres of broken glass are rarely friendly.

After vanquishing them, the group moved on deeper into the caverns, where something odd started happening. It had been cold the entire time, and the more genre savvy among them had already guessed that it was going to get colder before they got out. They were proven right when it started snowing. In a cavern. God only knows how far underground. None of them could make heads or tails out of it, until they noticed red moss covering the walls of the cavern. After Dominic Bertolazzi touched it, freezing his hand in the process, they managed to deduce that it actually sapped the heat out of whatever was nearby, including the air itself, resulting in the hideously low temperature.

As they moved on, vanquishing a few more skeletons (though these were covered in and animated by the cold itself), the snow became stronger and faster, becoming a blizzard. They managed to find refuge in a small side cave in the hallway, protected from the wind. After an hour or so of waiting, they moved on to the exit, finding a tunnel that led upwards into a forest.

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