Another missive from Mark in Thailand:
I wanted to see if Nic Wright’s Pulp draft expansion for his Palaeo Diet: Eat or be Eaten could be used for underwater hunting tours, with no or minimal modification. So here goes.
It will be back to bring them home after 10 Turns, before their air (and possibly their luck) runs out.
The game will be played on a 900x900mm table, shown below. Note the wildlife. At top L a Liopleurodon (King carnivore). At top R 2x generic sharks of the era (pack predators). At lower R: 2x plesiosaurs (Great herbivores). At lower L: a small but aggressive plesiosaur (raptor) and a giant starfish (qv).
Here are the mods to the PDEE Pulp rules that will be used:
- Although most of the terrain is alive, and some is potentially dangerous to the adventurers (eg the large anemone at Centre L) it is all treated as inert, and impassable.
- Adventurers can travel only on the seabed, no free-swimming.
- Beasts can be at low or high level (represented by different height stands). At high level they can travel over terrain but cannot attack hunters and cannot be attacked. It takes a reaction to change level up or down.
- Adventurer weapons: a glaive (The Hardlove twins) counts as a Club. A spear gun (Cousteau, Marvin) counts as a rifle and can shoot up to high level.
- The giant starfish is an beast that cannot be wounded or killed, and has a permanent Predate reaction that senses blood anywhere on the table (but S not M movement). For some reason it is attracted only to dead and wounded adventurers. Any such in contact is immediately ingested.
In accordance with their tour plan, the Adventurers aim to (1) visit each quarter of the tabletop, and (2) bag a marine reptile. They have decided to do the visiting first, and see what relatively less dangerous beast might present itself for slaughter.
They advanced cautiously towards the centre of the table, mostly sticking close together, although Marvin fell behind a bit. A nearby Plesiosaur moved away, another continued grazing on jellyfish. They continued forward. Marvin was still behind the others, apparently having trouble with his breather, but the others pushed on. The Hardloves paused to allow Marvin time to catch up, as a Liopleurodon and a couple of mean-looking sharks circled in the water above. But Cousteau, on spotting the sharks, threw away caution and opened fire. He missed. The nearer shark moved to attack, coming down to low level. Marvin then took a shot, also missing, alarming the shark which turned away and moved back up to high level.
As Turn 3 came up, the adventurers agreed that for the moment they would eschew further investigation of table Q1 (until the Liopleurodon moved on) and see if they could bag a shark. Cousteau fired ... and missed ... no beast reaction (rolled predate but no wounded or dead objectives). He fired again ... hit the shark, it moved to attack, descending to low level. Lucifer Hardlove now moved up to the attacking shark to spear (club) it. As he closed in the beast showed its teeth (roared). Lucifer faltered, but the Hardloves are made of stern stuff and he pressed on (passed all his die rolls), and smote the shark mightily, killing it with a second wound.
The other shark came to check out the kill (predate reaction), moving down to low level.
As Turn 4 comes along, the adventurers hold a quick conference (they have excellent LOS underwater radios). Marvin urges caution, but the paying customers have seen blood and want more. They will take on the second shark. How hard could it be?
Cousteau moves forward slightly to get a better shot (move into range) and wounds the beast. It attacks Lucifer Hardlove, who is closest, but is fended off. Then Lucifer attacks, but doesn’t hit the shark, which attacks him again, and is fended off again! This is desperate stuff. Lucifer attacks again, this time causing a second wound and finishing off the shark.
There is no stopping them now. Eden Hardlove, the only who doesn’t have a kill, decides he will take on the Liopleurodon, and Lucifer and Cousteau, overconfident, agree to come along. Marvin follows, realising he’ll probably have to rescue them sooner rather than later.
So in Turn 5 the adventurers start stalking the Liopleurodon. Here they go ...
This photo shows the end of turn situation. Cousteau has inflicted a shooting wound on the monster, but the adventurers have mostly been sent scurrying back to their starting points by its threatening behaviour (roar), even though it has stayed up at high level and moved off a bit (alarmed).
In turn 6 the hunt continued. The adventurers plan is to use the same technique that accounted for both sharks: use speargun shooting to bring the beast down to low level, then finish it off with glaives.
Cousteau and Marvin both took shots but failed to hit, or cause any useful reaction. Eden Hardlove, fearing he was never going to get any action, broke ranks and moved closer. The beast obliged with a Lunge reaction, coming down to low level. The next photo shows the beast confronting Eden. In the background L-R: Lucifer Hardlove, Jaques Cousteau, Nigel Marvin.
It’s Turn 7 now, the last turn available before it’ll be necessary to head back to the rendezvous with the submersible.
Eden Hardlove fails an activation and the Liopleurodon lunges at him, somehow missing. Eden attacks, wounding the beast. It fights back, missing again. Eden attacks again, but misses this time, and the beast shows its teeth (roars) and Eden backs cautiously away. Next, Lucifer gambles and wins on three activations. He moves towards the beast, which attacks him causing a wound. Nearby the giant starfish sniffs the currents ... Lucifer attacks, causing the beast another (third) wound. It shows its teeth again (roars) but Lucifer isn’t impressed (passes all die rolls), and attacks again but misses. Just as he thinks he’s OK the liopleurodon shows why it’s apex predator of the Jurassic Coast: a snap of the jaws and Lucifer is gone. Well, is upper half is gone. The bottom half remains as a predation point.
Horrified, Cousteau and Marvin take their shots. Marvin places an aimed shot and causes another (fourth) hit. The beast attacks, targetting Eden Hardlove who is closest, wounding him. Cousteau also tries an aimed shot, and gets another (fifth) hit. The beast, probably terminally wounded, moves away (up to high level).
Note to self: make some “blood in the water” clouds from cotton wool for dramatic effect.
Turn 8, and the adventurers have a dilemma. One more hit on the Liopleurodon will finish it, and no-one has ever bagged one of these beasts before. But unless they make tracks, they may miss the submersible rendezvous, and their air supply is not forever.
Reluctantly, they abandon the remains of Lucifer Hardlove to the encroaching giant starfish, and ... but wait, we’re not done yet. Nigel Marvin fails all 3 activation dice. The only beast interested is the aggressive little plesiosaur lurking near the barnacle reef, and it attacks him (being already at low level). And causes a wound.
Turn 9, and the little plesiosaur attacks again as Marvin rolls another failure, and he is wounded again and killed! He never got an opportunity to fight back. Possibly the beast disabled his breather gear in its first attack - the Official Enquiry will be checking the drone footage about that. The next photo shows this tragic incident, and also the giant starfish nearly at its lunch.
In Turn 10 the two surviving hunters, Jacques Cousteau and the wounded Eden Hardlove, meet the returning submarine and will soon be back in their own time. They have achieved the objectives of the tour (visited each table quarter - or at least been in each quarter - and bagged a beast, in fact two) plus almost knocking off a Liopleurodon. But two members have been killed, a paying customer (never a good look) and an experienced tour guide (hard to replace). So a mixed result at best.