Sunday, 22 March 2020

Palaeo Diet: Pulp at the bottom of the sea - another adventure from Mark

The Utterley-Barking Time Travel (& Landscaping) Company loses millions each year, but still pays all its bills and stays afloat, it’s aura of mystery, adventure, and romance undimmed. As a (very) private family firm it’s books are not open, and dark rumours abound. Slave trading? Black market wildlife sales? But the truth is simple: treasure. Nic, the current CEO, is a wiz at locating long lost treasure and organising expeditions to recover it. 

This year his target is the wreck of the cruise liner Victoria Imperatrix, which was inward bound from Antares in 1891 when it fell out of earth orbit, for reasons unknown, and literally disappeared before it could burn up in the atmosphere.

Utterley-Barking has discovered the wreck, fallen back through a time warp quite a long way, and now at the bottom of the Tethys Sea. His team will attempt to recover the large quantity of Antarean gems that were aboard.

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The photo below shows the tabletop set up for this game, with the figures in their starting positions. The tabletop is 900x900mm. The terrain is mostly dead coral, barnacles etc, collected from beaches around Sattahip, and representing an extensive dead coral reef. It is being recolonized by giant tube worms. In the centre, a large chunk of the wreck can be seen in front of the major reef outcrop. This part of the ship is believed to contain the strongrooms.



The wildlife comprises 1 x King carnivore (Dunkleosteus) at top L, and 2 x Great Herbivores (Manta ray, Coelacanth) at lower R. And a “flock” of up to three Raptors (Giant crayfish) which have possible entry points marked by blue beads, one in each quarter of the table. Any raptors killed may reappear (or not) the next time raptors come on. Once a raptor entry point has been used, it is removed from the tabletop.

The adventurers are coming on at lower L. Nic U-B is back at the base dome (sensible chap) just off-table. On table are Eden & Lucifer Hardlove (glaives [clubs]), and Jacques Cousteau & Nigel Marvin (spearguns [rifles]).

The other two figures, with electric claws, are Christoper Hitchens and Steve Bannon. They are salvage specialists. They are not allowed to attack beasts, but defend against beast attacks with a special +1 factor (ie a beast needs to beat its savagery value by “1” to wound these figures) because the beasts are averse to the electricity. 

The game will last for ten Turns only. To win, the adventurers must have Hitchens and/or Bannon in contact with the wreck for a total of at least ten figure-turns, and have lost no more than two of the escort figures, and no more than one of the salvage specialists.

The underwater hunting special rules will be the same as for the Jurassic Coast game reported earlier. A clarification: “beasts at high level cannot be attacked” should read “... cannot be contacted by adventurers”.

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Hitchens and Bannon successfully rolled group activations and reached the wreck debris on Turn 2. They will start work on Turn 3. The other adventurers advanced behind them, to provide cover, on Turn 1. But on Turn 2 Lucifer Hardlove & Jacques Cousteau failed a group activation roll. The nearest “beast” turned out to be a raptor entry point, and (in accordance with a “raptor alert” die roll) 2 beasts appeared, with a Attack reaction. Here’s the moment Lucifer and Jacques saw them coming over the reef.



Raptors stay at low level (being crayfish and all) so charged into contact. One went for each adventurer. Luckily both attacks were fended off. The other adventurers headed to the cover of coral outcrops. I decided at this point that an adventurer in base contact with a piece of coral could only be attacked from the open water side, not from across the coral. 

On Turn 3 (as Hitchens & Bannon worked on, and racked up 2/10 figure turns) Lucifer Hardlove attacked and killed the crayfish menacing him. The other crayfish immediately moved to feed on its late companion (predate reaction). Cousteau shot at it but missed, and the beast paused to eye him up (rest reaction).

On Turn 4 Hitchens & Bannon worked on, racking up 4/10 figure turns. They each roll one activation die per turn. Eden Hardlove & Nigel Marvin tried to keep a low profile (rolled only 1 activation die each, hoping for no beast reactions). But Marvin failed and - who would have thought it - 2 more crayfish appeared and attacked him (dash reaction). And wounded him. Meanwhile, Lucifer Hardlove moved up to the resting cray, and killed it with his glaive. Cousteau rolled two activations, and used them to take an aimed shot at the nearer raptor that had attacked Marvin, killing it. The other raptor started to eat it’s ex-companion (predate).

Here’s a photo showing the end of Turn 4. To R, Lucifer Hardlove and Jacques Cousteau have beaten off the raptor attack, killing both beasts. Cousteau has also shot and killed the red crayfish to L. The other orange one is busy eating it. Nigel Marvin, at L, is shown with a red wound marker. Eden Hardlove is near him, armed with a glaive.



In the centre, Bannon and Hitchens continue work on the wreck, probing in towards the strongroom. The major beasts are out of frame at lower R and upper L. 

Things have been going reasonably well for the adventurers so far, despite Marvin being wounded. But all the closest Raptor entry points are closed now, which greatly increases the possibility of some larger, more dangerous beasts taking an interest.

Turn 5. Uh-oh, Steve Bannon has a problem with his electric claws (failed his activation roll). The nearest beast is the surviving crayfish, which attacks. It fails to wound Bannon, no doubt repelled by the electric currents in the water around him. Hitchens keeps working. The salvage workers have now racked up 5/10 figure turns, and Bannon is out of action while the angry crayfish is attacking him. Cousteau sees what is happening and fires at the cray, twice, missing both times. Luckily no other beast is in range to react to this (unsuccessful shooting = howling). Lucifer moves up in support but cannot attack this turn.  Then Marvin fails his activation roll as well. The nearest beast is the Dunkleosteus, which rolls an attack reaction. It advances, coming down to low level. Just what Marvin needs, a tonne of armoured fish that finds him worth investigating. Eden Hardlove moves up to support his colleague.

On Turn 6 Lucifer Hardlove fails to kill the crayfish that is annoying Bannon. It turns on him (dash reaction) but he fends off the attack. Bannon & Hitchens get back to work, now they have 7/10 figure/turns in hand, nearly at the strongroom. Cousteau fails 1/2 activation rolls. The cray dashes up to him and attacks, but fails to cause a wound. Cousteau shoots and kills the beast. Eden Hardlove & Nigel Marvin both roll a single activation dice and keep their heads down, hoping the inquisitive Dunkleosteus will go away.

As Turn 7 starts, the area occupied by the team is littered with four dead crayfish. It’s unlikely any more will appear as the remaining entry points are further away from the adventurers than the King carnivore or Great herbivores.

Bannon’s salvage equipment fails again. The nearest beast is now a Great herbivore (Manta ray) but it’s not interested (move away reaction). Hitchens keeps working. But this means the wreck salvage crew will have only 8/10 figure/turns in hand after this turn. The other adventurers all roll and pass single activation dice, skulking under cover of the coral.

Here’s a photo showing the end of Turn 7. The Dunkleosteus is at top L, still looking like its interested in Eden Hardlove & Nigel Marvin. The Great herbivores though, remain at high level at lower R, ignoring the goings-on on the sea floor. The two crays at C represent the mass slaughter of raptors, I took the others away. 



Turn 8: Bannon & Hitchens are both back at work now, and after this turn they will have racked up the required 10 figure/turns excavating the Victoria Imperatrix. All the other divers pass their solo activation die rolls too, so nothing much happens.

Turn 9:  More of the same, this is a bit boring. I “check” the distance between the Dunkleosteus and Eden Hardlove and qu’elle suprise, he is “now” within M of the King carnivore. That’s better. The beast obligingly rolls an attack reaction. It fails to wound Eden though, and the adventurer uses his action to fail to wound the beast in return.

Here’s a photo of the Dunkleosteus attacking Eden Hardlove ... the other figure in view is the wounded Nigel Marvin. Hoping he won’t have to help.



So, here we are at Turn 10. Eden rolls two activations. He attacks and wounds the Dunkleosteus. It responds with a predate reaction, which is just fine with Marvin (not). However I let him off the hook, ruling that because of the tricky cramped tactical position, it would be an attack reaction instead, so the beast went for Eden again, but missed him. Eden’s second attack missed too. The beasts final reaction was also attack, and this time Eden wasn’t quick enough and those huge jaws wounded him.

Elsewhere, Hitchens had trouble with his electric claws. The Dunkleosteus is the nearest beast. It rolled a lunge reaction, and finished off Eden Hardlove who was the closest adventurer. Marvin was so upset at this he rolled two activations, stepped out of cover, and took a shot at the monster. Missed. It got a predate reaction, and with Eden out of the way it moved into contact with Marvin and attacked, killing him with a second wound. Lucifer Hardlove and Jacques Cousteau had to watch this terrifying onslaught, there was nothing they could do to help.

Here’s the end-of-game position. First an overall view of the tabletop. At lower R the Great herbivores never got involved. If you look closely the two remaining blue markers for Raptor entry can also be seen, top L and lower R. 



And here is the Dunkleosteus, with its two kills (Eden Hardlove & Nigel Marvin).



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At the end of the game the adventurers have achieved all the victory conditions. The salvage specialists Bannon & Hitchens have spent 10 figure/turns working at the wreck site. No more than 2 adventurers (and no specialists) have been lost. Nic Utterley-Barking will be pleased, and his firm’s Cayman Islands bank balance will be receiving a healthy inflow, thanks to the long-lost wreck of the Victoria Imperatrix.

Cheers from Pattaya, on the Tethys Sea,
Mark


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