Wednesday 22 February 2023

Pearl Diving in the Western Interior Seaway: another PDEE Underwater adventure

Another of Mark's Utterley-Barkinge mad adventures using his underwater variant of Palaeo Diet: Pulp!


The Utterley-Barkinge Time-Travel & Landscape Gardening Corporation led another safari back to the marine environment of the Cretaceous era. Rather than the usual big game hunting theme, this year the aim was to search for the giant pearls known from rare fossil examples. These would be the largest, highest quality pearls ever found, with the added lustre of being snatched from ancient seas in the face of terrors innumerable. Sells itself, what.

As usual the limited places available were greatly oversubscribed despite the astronomical price. The Final Cut of 6 intrepid adventurers comprised entirely Hollywood movie stars. Three are armed with glaives (counting as clubs) and three with spearguns (counting as guns)  The expedition guide was Boris Utterley-Barking (speargun).

Here are a couple of views of  the area the expedition will explore. It’s a 900x900mm cloth. The UB submersible is just about to drop off the adventurers in the centre. There is some fauna swimming about (jellyfish, squid). More will appear / disappear depending on events such as anomalies in character activation rolls. 

The possible locations for pearls (clusters of giant Barnacle Oysters) are marked with yellow dice numbered 1-4 for your convenience. But the molluscs (if that is what they are) aren’t going to give up their pearls easily.

Turn 1. The paying customers, as always, forget everything they heard at the briefing session and demand to “get what they paid for”. In practice this means splitting up and heading off in different directions towards the Barnacle Oyster clumps they can see.  What could possibly go wrong ?

Clark Gable & Louise Brooks decide to head for clump #2.  Gary Cooper & Mae West pick clump #3. Carole Lombard & Charlie Chaplin go for clump #4. Clump #1 is not in LOS at this point. All activate successfully on 2 dice except Mae West fails 1, which causes the squid to all head off the table. Boris joins the Lombard / Chaplin group.

Turn 2. All three groups arrive at their Barnacle Oyster clumps, and start figuring out how to find the pearls. Gary Cooper & Mae West inadvertently attracted a shark (pack predator) which as came to take a look. And Boris Utterley-Barking totally failed to activate, so a small mosasaur (apex predator) has sidled onto the table up in the NW corner near Clark Gable & Louise Brooks.

Expedition members are all identified by blue nametags.

Turn 3. How to open a Barnacle Oyster? It turns out you have to use 3 activations, and success scores 1 Pearl each time. But a clump will yield no more than 5 Pearls in all. Our movie stars eagerly get to work. Clark Gable and Louise Brooks both fail one activation. The nearby mosasaur doesn’t react. Gary Cooper similarly fails 1, the shark doesn’t react. Mae West his companion activates successfully and scores the first Pearl of the expedition. Charlie Chaplin & Carole Lombard both wrest pearls from their Barnacle Oyster clump. This time Boris U-B activated successfully and completes his move to join the Chaplin & Lombard group.

The photo shows (L-R): one of the giant lobsters that just arrived (see below); the mosasaur*; Miss Brooks*; Miss West (and her white Pearl marker); and the shark. [* in the distance ]

Turn 4. Annoyed by the noise, 2 giant lobsters emerged from their lairs. The movie stars, intent on their work, continue trying to coax more pearls. Clark Gable finally got hold of a Pearl. Louise Brooks failed again, but the mosasaur continued to ignore them. Gary Cooper failed 2 dice. The shark, and the nearer Giant Lobster, both displayed no interest. Mae West is onto something good, and scored her 2nd Pearl. 

Charlie Chaplin failed, and the nearest beast (the other Giant Lobster) waved its claws menacingly but otherwise did nothing. But then Carole Lombard also failed and the Giant Lobster attacked. It was too far away to make contact, but it moved M towards the adventurers. Then Boris U-B failed too, and the beast attacked again. This time it contacted the closest group member, Chaplin himself, and wounded him.

Turn 5. Charlie Chaplin fought back against the Giant Lobster. He failed an activation but luckily the GL failed to wound him again, then fluffed his own attack on the beast. Carole Lombard came to Chaplin’s help, taking a wound as she fought, but also dishing out a wound to the beast.  Boris U-B then stepped up, wounding the Giant Lobster a second time to kill it. 

Elsewhere … Clark Gable didn’t get another Pearl. His companion Louise Brooks double failed, and another fearsome beast, a Giant Octupus (apex predator) arrived near the as-yet-unvisited Clump #1 of Barnacle Oysters. Mae West scored her 3rd Pearl. Gary Cooper did not, and attracted (finally) the interest of that loitering shark which is now uncomfortably close.

Clockwise from top L: the Mosasaur remains unaggressive,  Clark Gable (1 Pearl) & Louise Brooks (0) at Barnacle Oyster clump 2; the now-aggressive shark is checking out Gary Cooper (0) and Mae West (3) at clump 3; Charles Chaplin (1), Carole Lombard (1) & Boris Utterley-Barkinge at clump 4 after killing the Giant Lobster; the Giant Octopus near clump 1. And lastly the other Giant Lobster at top centre of the table.

Turn 6. The Pearl hunt continues. Sort of. Clark Gable double-fails his latest activation , and the mosasaur after initially moving away cones back to attack. Can’t make contact now, but it’s close. Louise Brooks must decide whether to attack the beast, or keep mining pearls. She rolls two successes and one fail. The Mosasaur again hesitates (Rests) so she shoots and wounds the beast. Which turns and flees off the table. A narrow escape.

Gary Cooper meanwhile, annoyed that he is down 3-0 to Mae West in pearls, decides to keep mining despite the approaching shark. He fails a dice, and the shark ... moves away. There’s something wrong with our bloody predators today. Mae West also fails 1, this time the shark turns and attacks but fails to wound her.

Charlie Chaplin, Carole Lombard, and Boris U-B all fail 1 activation each. The net result is the second Giant Lobster, which has been biding it’s time in the table centre, attacks Miss Lombard in a Predate move (she is already wounded) but it fails to kill her.

Turn 7.  Because no-one has been killed so far (an event that has never happened in any previous expedition) more beasts will arrive. A school of 3 x Ichthyosaurs (pack predators) appears in the  entre of the table. And a big Tylosaur (a type of mosasaur) appears - random entry placed this right next to the Chaplin / Lombard / Utterkey-Barkinge group at clump 4.

Gary Cooper failed an activation. The nearest beast was one if the ichthyosaurs, which did nothing. Cooper started to move back (skulk) towards the table centre (the rendezvous & evac point). Louise Brooks likewise abandoned the Pearl hunt and stayed with him.

Mae West activated on 2/2 dice, to try and drive off the shark. Her attacks both failed, but the shark wounded her.  Gary Cooper then activated similarly. He was able to kill the shark (2 wounds with his glaive) without being wounded himself. 

Boris Utterley-Barkinge activated first in the Chaplin group, and shot at the Tylosaur. Both his attacks failed and the beast wounded him . Chaplin then activated, wounding the beast. Lastly, Carole Lombard failed 1/2 activations. The Tylosaur finished off Chaplin before Lombard gave it 2 more wounds from a “well placed” hit. The now badly wounded Tylosaur attacked Lombard, killing her.

Turn 8. Boris Utterley-Barkinge manages to contact the other surviving adventurers on their helmet radios. He tells them the grim news about Chaplin and Lombard, and in turn hears that West is wounded. Everyone agrees it’s time to get back to the rendezvous point. Everyone starts skulking toward the table,e centre. All goes well, except that Gary Cooper triggers an attack by an ichthyosaur which wounds him, and is in turn wounded by a shot from Louise Brooks.

Turn 9. Boris Utterley-Barking, Mae West, and Gary Cooper have reached the rendezvous point. Clark Gable and Louise Brooks aren’t there yet, but they have fought off the ichthyosaur.

Turn 10. The adventures are trying to move as little as possible, and activate on only 1 dice each, so the beasts don’t attack them. Gable and Brooks continued skulking towards the others.

Turn 11.  Same again, and as none of the adventurers fails their activation, and none moves more than a skulk, there’s nothing for the beasts to react to.

Turn 12. The distinctive sound of the submersible approaching can be heard.  Louise Brooks fails her activation and the nearest ichthyosaur attacks, but fails to wound her. Boris U-B also fails, and the same ichthyosaur moves to attack him, causing a wound.

And as the submersible arrives the beasts all flee. The Tylosaur is carrying 3 wounds (a 4th will be fatal) so its survival chances are not high. In fact the 2 surviving ichthyosaurs might well shadow  it for a while to see what happens.

The expedition survivors reembark. Louise Brooks (0 pearls) and Gary Cooper (0) are OK. Clark Gable (1) and Mae West (3) are wounded. Boris Utterley-Barkinge (0), the expedition guide, is also wounded. Charlie Chaplin and Carole Lombard are Mosasaur food. Any pearls they may have had are lost. Mae West has obviously won the Pearl competition. We can only hope her injuries aren’t too serious.

Another successful (?) adventure brought to you by the intrepid folks at Utterley Barkinge.

Cheers from Pattaya

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