The one where we all learn a valuable lesson about key cards.
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Keith (me, Jim Clocks) is writing again this week, and just like last time it’s going to be a little fast and loose. I’ll be in black, Jon (our DM) is in blue. Another player, Eric shall be in red, as the prophecy foretold.
This is a Bonus Adventure where Jono takes old classic modules and updates them for 5e. It’s a fun chance for all of us to play versions of some of the classics.
In our last installment your heroes messed around a bunch more on the first floor and nearly died at the hands of vegepygmies. But we also got a big ‘ole shoulder mounted cannon (that will totally pay off later) and an elusive Red Key Card. Things were looking up for the Cads as we ventured downwards.
What could go wrong?
Stop trying to make “Cads” a thing!
It’s a thing and you can’t stop it.
In The Future, Key Card Readers Are Assholes
If you recall, most of the doors in this spaceship are locked behind key card readers. It’s a pretty simple affair. You can put your hand on the door and an orb will glow in the colour of the required card. If you’ve got the corresponding key card you can put it in the slot and it will pop back out into a little tray or whatever and the door will open.
We come across a door that glows grey.
This shouldn’t be a problem, right? After all, we’ve got red. If you read the last installment you will know that by presenting the red key card to a police-bot we were told that we had the clearance of a military General. What rooms would someone with a rank of General not be allowed in, right?
We slide in the red card (that we fought so much for) into the slot and it whirrs, makes a noise and then eats the damn card.
Jono rules that smashing a big axe into the slot is not enough to widen out the space age metal and the card is lost. Because in the future if you accidentally put your access card in the wrong slot you are proper fucked. There must have been like an entire department on this spaceship just for replacing keycards. Oh and also, what is the logic of the colour coding? My notes have Violet > Brown and Grey > Red. This makes sense (no it doesn’t). And another thing, how many colours are we talking about? We’ve seen (from my notes): Red, Grey, Green, Yellow, Violet, Brown, Black and White.
You know, we never really explored “Locate Object”. It could lead us to a huge card bank or something. I guess it could just be stuck in the wall, but might as well try.
Yeah, the rules say most of that stuff is “unbreakable”. Is that really fair in a world with Potions of Cloud Giant Strength? Should it be plausible that you guys open up the lock mechanism and take out a circuit board? Yeah, it is. What if you figure out how to work it? What about summoning an elemental to power it. Elemental powered circuitry is a rabbit hole neither Gary nor I want to deal with. Unbreakable readers + whacked out tanslocation magics are the simple answer.
Yeah the cards are crazy, why would they eat the card? After a certain point you just have to be ok with Gary fucking with us.
Anyways, the adventurers decide that they’re kind of sick of this whole thing and should just focus on getting out. At the start of this expedition we noticed that there was quite a bit more foot traffic at the base of the mountain, so it stands to reason that the best way out is down.
So we go down as far as we can in one of the weird gravity elevators.
Welcome, To Jurassic Park. But In A Spaceship. In A Fantasy Setting
At the bottom of the elevator the party finds a ledge overlooking a hundred foot deep, massive… what’s the word? Biodome? A big biodome. Sure. Jon cues up some appropriate music and we venture inwards.
Jon asked me to be in charge of the music, which I absolutely relish. I’ve been playing Magic Sword, Tommy ‘86, Perturbator and one of my favorite movies’ soundtrack: Planet Sauvage. The shittyflute version of Jurassic Park was all Jon, despite the accusatory looks from the other players.
Some plant vines try to drag us down into the biodome and webbirds attack us. Like 60 of them.
You may have not heard of webbirds, but they’ve been featured in a few publications since Barrier Peaks was published. They were in 1983’s Monster Manual II and have been updated for both 2nd and 3rd edition. Not 4th or 5th though. Probably because they’re dumb web pooping birds with dog lips. That’s their thing.
You missed the part when they inseminate you with young that hatch out after an hour.
Really early on in the development of my character Jim Clocks I decided that he was just all about magic items. His reasoning is that all the best legendary pirate lords have these super unique items that are kind of baked into their lore. In one of the early adventures (that we sadly didn’t blog about) Jono gave us a “Horn of Falling” that was a big horn that as a daily action you could blast and cause a flying creature to fall out of the sky. We used it to down a Roc that was tormenting a village of Amazonian pygmies (this game is full of pygmies).
They were halflings.
Guess who kept that shit on his sheet?
The sound of the horn echoes through the Jurassic Biodome and down go the birds like a bunch of chumps.
Good job with that Horn. Again, really, you missed out on the enriching experience of webbird young “hatching” out of your face.
Unbottle the Couatl
The party decides that heading down into the mess of flora and fauna is probably a very dumb idea, so they stick to ledge and continue exploring.
I real feel like we missed out on some insanity by not venturing into the biodome (I’ve got a strong suspicion that the infamous Bunnyoid was down there), but like, what party would? I feel like there was kind of a disconnect in old modules between whether you’re trying to escape or trying to explore. Everything is dangerous and trying to kill you, what’s the incentive to literally go into a completely alien jungle filled with murderous wildlife? How do you think Gary roped fools into that?
With heaping piles of treasure no doubt. I bet all the mutant grizzlies have bellies full of diamond robot components.
Oh for sure its treasure. All of the serious encounters have thousands of gp worth of loot. You know, now that I think about it back in the 2nd edition (and earlier) era there was an xp award for loot. Might be that that was the point as well. Get treasure and get a ton of levels.
As we continue to look for a way down (and hopefully out) we come across some kind of bio-storage warehouse. It’s full of these interlocking egg-pods that are almost all open. And there’s a lot of corpses around a bunch of them. Using Comprehend Language the Warlock informs us that these pods are labeled stuff like “Rhinoceros” and “Grizzly Bear” but also things like “Mind Flayer” and “Beholder”. I mentioned these pods were all open didn’t I?
One that was not open was a pod labeled “Couatl”.
After much hemming and hawing (SO MUCH) either the Rogue or the Bard just spins the dial to let whatever is in there loose.
This is quintessential “our gang” D&D dynamic. We agonize over a decision until someone loses their patience and acts. There’s a reason I chose to make a tempest cleric.
Turns out it was in fact, a Couatl. A benevolent, lawful good nomadic Celestial creature! The Bard quickly points out that teleportation does not function here and might kill it.
If Giddeon didn’t pipe up with that tidbit, would you have just had the Couatl teleport itself into an inside out flying snake-mess? Also, was this OG text? I know Couatl’s are old (first appearing in the very first Monster Manual in 1977), but I’m wondering what this was all about. Is it just Gary actually tossing the adventurers a rare bone?
Naw, Couatl are pretty badass; these things are supposed to have godlike intelligence and wisdom, so I would have had the Couatl figure it out. Or at least survive.
Couatl was OG Gary. You guys picked the right room to thoroughly search. He could have helped with the webbirds but you Horned them up real good.
So we’ve made it this far and nobody is dead yet, why wouldn’t we press on further into this crazy ass sci-fi death trap? Tune in next time as we go even deeper and our streak of keeping all of our characters alive and well comes to a sudden and abrupt end.
Keith does all sorts of things here on 9to5.cc, he works with the other founders on 9to5 (illustrated), co-hosts our two podcasts: The 9to5 Entertainment System and Go Plug Yourself and blogs here as The Perspicacious Geek.
Eric plays a Triton Cleric in Big Fish and also once went to Otakuthon for us and interviewed Hamlet Machine.
All Images copyright Wizards of the Coast.
BONUS PHOTO: The Queen of England watches over us as we game:
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