[December 2059] H2Ostage Situation (Solo: Grendel)   Posted by Mr. Johnson.Group: 0
Mr. Johnson
 GM, 6 posts
Sat 18 Jan 2020
at 01:11
Prelude: Grendel
Two years ago

You can almost trace back to the minute to the moment that your world began to change.  After an eternity of waiting, you had finally allowed you to join in the hunt.  You're up before daybreak, working the flank of the hunting ground, making enough noise to drive game back toward the main party.  Pushing along the banks of Humbug Creek where last year's wildfires tore through Kennebec Gulch where the deer had been feeding on the tender new growth buds.

Just before the rifle shots rang out marking another successful hunt you found the tire tracks...

That night, when the council of equals had assembled, Big Mike called you forward, honored you as one of the clan.  Recognized by the council they asked you to tell Mother what you had found.  Trying so hard not to stammer, you describe the four-wheel drive trucks that you had seen moving up and down the mountain on Houndstooth trail.  Moving on foot, you couldn't keep up with the trucks, but from the rocky outcrop that overlooks the gulch you saw them head up the pass and into the next canyon.

It`s hard to remember the lengthy council deliberation that followed.  At council every adult in the clan has the opportunity to speak their truth.  Most followed the lead of Mother who said she could not countenance the presence of outsiders.  Countenance was a word you didn`t know, something she probably learned in college during her Trial away from the clan.  But you know what it meant and more importantly, you know that she picked you to go ahead to find out where the trucks went while the warband prepared.  The clan would raid their camp if they had stayed in the neighbouring valley.

You are chosen as the clan's scout.  What do you do to prepare?  What do you equipment do you gather to bring with you?
 player, 1 post
Sat 18 Jan 2020
at 02:27
Prelude: Grendel
It's hard to convey the honor entailed in being selected as a Scout, especially at such a young age, and on the heels of being acknowledged as a full member of the Clan. The connections implicit in the act, the emotions involved. It's difficult for somebody outside the Clan to grasp.

But, suffice to say, the burden of responsibility was immense. Father's, mother's, sons, daughters, loved ones and close friends, so many were relying on him. The information he was expected to provide, it's volume and accuracy, was a matter of life and death. The plans that would be made, the success of their attack, would in no small way hinge upon him. He felt the weight of it like a solid thing. He knew every member of the warband personally and the majority since childhood.

Preparation was a sad and simple thing. His family owned very, very little. What resources they had scraped together had gone mostly towards food and supplements, Trolls eat alot, and he was large even for a troll. It was not an exaggeration that as a teenager for his species that he ate as much as a small human family by himself.

The size would be a real hindrance in such a mission, he knew, but his Troll eyes had picked up everything from the latent warmth of the tire tracks to the lingering clouds of combusted fuel settling in the depressions of the earth. They might see him eventually, but he very well might see them first.

To complicate his task, very few things are expressly made for Troll physiology. And the few things that are tend to be that much more expensive.

In fact he owned only one thing that had been manufacturered for his kind, a military surplus jacket from the days of the South American conflicts, olive drab and weathered, but warm and waterproof.

Everything else he possessed had been hand made by the Clan or modified in some way. His "shoes" were little more than tire tread soles, lovingly woven P-cord straps and some nuts and bolts. His pants had been cobbled together and hand stitched from three identical smaller pairs, giving him ample pockets and a spiders web of exposed seams. His belt was simply a repurposed yellow ratchet strap.

His "backpack", little more than a water proof haul bag with some extra knotted together webbing, was serviceable. And his "knife" was a car leaf spring, cut down and sharpened on one edge, with some more P-cord and holes drilled for a grip.

That was it. That was everything.

So he borrowed, a rifle scope from one of the outriders to use as an optic, so long as he promised not to adjust the elevation or windage, and a radio and note taking supplies from the "School Bus" where his mother normally spent her days.

So outfitted, he prepared to set out upon his mission, a small sack lunch in his pack and a cup of strong black coffee in his stomach.

This message was last edited by the player at 20:45, Sun 19 Jan 2020.

Mr. Johnson
 GM, 18 posts
Wed 22 Jan 2020
at 01:39
Prelude: Grendel
Hauling your massive bulk through the trees, you cringe with every rustle of leaves and every twig snapping underfoot.  Every noise is tantamount to an explosion, at least in your mind.  Ultimately, your fears prove unfounded.  You hear them before you see them, this time however the explosions are real.

The blasts come in regular intervals, maybe half a dozen and timed about 30 seconds apart.  After the shock wears off, you cast caution aside chugging up the slope as soon as another round begins.  Before the final echo of the last explosion dies on the mountain slopes, you drop back into the woods; a single truck and the tents of a temporary camp now in sight.  There isn't much to see.  Remains of a camp fire, plastic wrappers, empty bottles, the inevitable scraps of “civilization” that are always left behind by outsiders.  A few men in orange vests mill about, one with a cell pressed to his ear, cigarette dangling from his lips.

Most importantly, through the borrowed rifle scope, you spot the word Weymouth in broad red letters across the white paint of the pick-up.  Underneath in smaller type Rare Earth Metals Speculation.

Then, another explosion.  You can see now where the rest of the crew is blasting away at the side of the mountain, not far off up the next ridge a bright flash that wipes away a century of undisturbed forest and turns incalculable millennia of natural rock formation into a rising cloud of dust that threatens to block out the morning sun.

Then another.

And another...
 player, 9 posts
Wed 22 Jan 2020
at 02:27
Prelude: Grendel
Lowlanders..., Grendel thought to himself as he law low in the vegetation.

The term was derisive of course, not quite a true insult, but one of the many names that his people used to describe city dwellers. "Tourons" a portmanteau of tourist and moron, "Cube Farmers" and "Bubble Boys" were other favorites.

Grendel was not blind to the dichotomy. His people thought it was funny, or shameful when a grown man could not drive a car, change a tire, or start a fire. But he would be equally lost in a city, just some hippy that didn't know how the public transportation worked or which streets were safe to walk down after dark.

These men were likely a lot more competent than your average tourist however. They could operate heavy machinery and handle explosives for starters. Cities consumed truly staggering amounts of resources, Grendel had been taught, mineral wealth included. Although how a man could think that building yet another gadget was worth blasting a crater in a beautiful old growth forest, he couldn't begin to understand.

Grendel counted the men, and casually recognized the model of the truck before he jotted them down in his notes in a neat and gentle script. His family was not wealthy enough to own anything that would give him the coordinates, so he had to go off his gut and sketched the rough distances from major landmarks as well.

Then, he moved on. For all the trials and travails of the lifestyle he had been born into, an active upbringing with clean air, fresh water and real food had its advantages. Grendel moved across the fern carpeted hillside with an athletic ease, his pulse and respiratory rate barely even responding to the exertion. He moved in the direction of the concussions in a round about way, guessing that more of the work crew would be near by.
Mr. Johnson
 GM, 23 posts
Fri 24 Jan 2020
at 01:25
Prelude: Grendel
Working your way up the slope is slow going.  You're not exactly fleet at foot at the best of times and trying to keep quiet slows you down to a crawl, but the priority is gathering accurate information on the other bubble boys.  Most importantly, you need to find out their numbers and if they appear to have any weapons (they would be exceedingly foolish to be out here in Firedrake country without something that packed a bit of punch).

Unfortunately for these outsiders, you know the back country well enough that using natural cover and staying unobserved isn't much of a problem.  In fact, not having a GPS receiver isn't much of an impediment to gathering quality information either.  Your clan will know the landmarks and won't have any problem tracking or locating the survey crews.

By the time you close in on the sample collection team the morning sun has risen high overhead and the day is beginning to heat up.  In the heat of the day, the crews are moving more slowly, but they seem to be done blasting and are now more focused on collecting samples and conducting field analysis.  In the bed of one of the trucks a little lab set up lets them run a few basic tests to see what, if anything, they have found.  Through the borrowed scope you catch a glimpse of a shotgun or a rifle in the back of one of the trucks confirming your suspicions.

Having seen enough, you're getting ready to start making your way back to camp.  You would like to make it back before nightfall so the warband has time to adapt to any important information you bring in.  But before you turn to leave, you notice that something in the camp has got the crew agitated, or perhaps excited.  It's hard to tell from a distance.  You would need to close in to find out, but that would significantly increase the likelihood of getting caught.

Push your luck and get in close?  Play it safe and go with what you've got?
 player, 14 posts
Fri 24 Jan 2020
at 01:40
Prelude: Grendel
Grendel could feet his huge heart hammering with adrenaline as he methodically took down information from each of the vantage points that he had scrambled up to. He had seen violence from a tender age, shot at people and been shot at in turn, but this was the very first time he had faced danger or discovery alone, and the cost of failure was high.

He had several pages of notes and sketches now, and his hand ached from manipulating the relatively tiny pencil. He had snacked some pine nuts to keep his energy up, and sipped on some water, but the sun was growing warm and he believed that he had seen just about everything there was to see.

But the flurry of movement drew his eye, and the crowd of workers blocked his view. He strained for minutes but between the vegetation, the distance and the small crowd he could not make out anything.

Frustrated, he considered sneaking down to a lower rock outcropping and mentally weighed the risk. What could it be that had gotten them so worked up?

On the one hand, it could be something important to the upcoming raid. He would hate to go back to the Clan with something so important undefined, and he was concerned some might think him incompetent, or that they would regret choosing him as a Scout.

But on the other, if he was seen, he risked putting the whole operation on alert. They might arm themselves or post guards. They might even pack up the whole operation and send in heavies to 'secure" the area before they returned.

That or he could always get shot and killed, that would also be a horrible way to end his first foray.

So, frustrated but armed with the majority of what he had come for, Grendel crept away from the area and started the journey back to report to the Council on what he had discovered.
Mr. Johnson
 GM, 30 posts
Sat 25 Jan 2020
at 18:06
Prelude: Grendel
>>FF 6 hours

Back at your clan's camp as night begins to fall you sit at the council fire.  Younger clan mates had been left to keep an eye on the camp while you came back to report your findings.  Your detailed notes and sketches have caused quite a stir among the older members of the clan.  The warband seems suitably impressed with your thoroughness and begin detailed planning on the raid while council deliberates.

The talks are long and drawn out.  As usual, the clan's two shamans find themselves in disagreement and argue against each other.

The elder healer Steady Walker strokes his grey beard and argues that no member of the clan wants to provoke these outsiders and the corporation that they work for into a more aggressive foray into the clans summer hunting grounds.  Naturally there is fear of retaliation and displacement if the corporation comes back with trained security people.  He reminds everyone that the men and women in the crew are mere employees, doing the job they are paid to do.  They mean no direct harm.  Rather than a direct attack, perhaps they could be reasoned with or bribed to report back that there is nothing of interest here.  His words are wise and give everyone cause for reflection.  Your father, having seen so much violence, stands with Steady Walker.

Though much younger, Mother, who follows Wolf, is inspiring as she rattles the bones of her staff.  She, of all the clan, has spent the most recent time among outsiders during her trial.  She says what many already know; that there is no alternative to direct confrontation.  Sharing the land with the outsiders, is not an option.  Their actions today prove they would not make good neighbors.  In pursuit of the metal hidden beneath the mountain's stones, they would rape the land, scare off the game, leave nothing but desolation in their wake and inevitably displace the clan.  Your mother is away tending the clan's mountain orchards (and illicit marijuana crops).  You feel that if she were here, her anger at the modern world would have her standing with Mother.

You are the youngest welcomed into the circle.  You have seen what the men and women in the survey crews were doing today and know the most about them among any in the clan.  When your turn comes, what words will you speak?

Do you urge the warband to lope off into the night and scare these outsiders off the land of the Black Rock Clan?

Do you urge caution and try to reason with or buy off the outsiders?

 player, 17 posts
Sat 25 Jan 2020
at 22:50
Prelude: Grendel
Grendel sat respectfully in the circle where he felt conspicuous despite all the attention being focused on the speakers. As he listened to each in turn, he nervously mulled over what he would say, how he would say it, and which of the emerging sides he would support.

Grendel believed he had few illusions about violence. They had lost Clan members over the years, and he had heard some of his fathers stories. They had been killed in the cities, and killed away from camp. Only a few times really, but it had happened. And he suspected that it would continue to happen. There was no casual curiosity there for him. It was brutal, and it was ugly and often sad.

But he was also a young man, consciously or not he craved recognition, praise and an identity of his own. He had never been set upon that identity being one involved with violence, but the opportunity was presenting itself, and many would argue that he was "built" for it. He was young and strong and genetically predisposed to endure what others could not. If he could stand up for the weaker among them, his Clan mates, did he not have a responsibility to do so in some way?

He thought about this and many other things, what his parents would think, everything he had read during his education. What he had seen and what he had heard. When it was finally time to speak, he nervously got to his feet and entered the circle, where he cleared his throat.

"Thank you, for letting me speak. I'm honored" he began awkwardly in his teenage half baritone. "I know I'm young, and I have not seen as much, or done as much as most of you. I've never killed anybody, I've obviously never had kids, or even had to make my own way. So I was not sure I should even be up here, but since you asked for my opinion, I'll give it honestly..." he cracked a slight smile as he pulled out a folded up piece of paper that he had made notes on and then added "..and humbly" as he shot his father a knowing look. The Troll had often given such advice on many occasions.

"If I thought that we could pay them to go, I would say we do it. But I don't think we can afford it. I don't know how much the Clan can scrape together, but I don't think it would ever be enough." he said as he read from his paper, then glanced up.

"And if I thought we could talk them into leaving their jobs, or lying to their bosses, or understanding what they are doing to the mountain, I would say we do that too. But I don't know how much we really have in common, those workers and us." he shrugged. "It would be hard for anybody to convince me to lie to any of you. I know that." he glanced up from the paper again.

"I do know that they are from a company, a company called Weymouth, and I know that companies exist to make profits. That's what they are for. So, I would think that if we really want them to stop, or to go away, we need to convince their leaders that there is no profit for them here." he glanced up and around again as his voice became harder. He knowingly or or not locked eyes with a few of the members that he suspected to have connections with Terra First.

"So I think we need to make it costly, so costly that they stop coming back here. Or we need to leave and try to make a new living elsewhere. I know that's not easy. That many of you have worked hard to make this place safe, and I don't know if moving would result in even more violence with whoever might be our new neighbors."

He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, then shot another more apologetic look to his Father. "So with that in mind, I support Mother's proposal, although I do it with a heavy heart." Grendel looked a little emotional as he folded up his paper and moved to take his seat in the circle again.

This message was last edited by the player at 01:12, Sun 26 Jan 2020.

Mr. Johnson
 GM, 32 posts
Sun 26 Jan 2020
at 20:50
Prelude: Grendel
Your father seems disappointed, resigned perhaps but not surprised, when the votes are tallied and it is decided that the warband will raid the miners' camp.  He has never been easy to read, so you're not sure if he is hurt that you stood against him at council.  It is not his way to speak openly about his feelings.

Cognizant of the potential for retaliation, the leaders of the warband have concocted a plan that they hope will ensure the attack is not connected with the tribe.  Disguised as wendigo, covered by illusions provided by the shamans' magic, they will raid the camp, scare off the survey crews, perhaps drag off a few workers then let them 'escape' later in the night.  They'll need to get in close, no firearms.  A few sharpshooters will be left behind in the trees in case things go wrong.  Although it will be more dangerous, it will be more likely to convince Weymouth that its too expensive to continue to develop the area if there is no chance of negotiation.  Profit margins will be slim if development requires  eradication and standing security presence to keep workers safe in an area plagued by a band of infected savages that live off the grid in the mountains.

You are too young to take part directly in the raid, only blooded adults will participate.  Your father is chosen to go amoung the sharpshooters.  You are selected to be part of the guard for Steady Walker and Mother who will stay further back and cover the warband with magic.

>> FF 3hrs

It all seems to be going according to plan.  There is commotion in the camp, clan mates howling to beat all.  There are sounds of battle, but no shots fired, at least not yet.  It seems boring back with the magicians.  They chant or dance quietly, bending unseen energies to their wills.  You would much rather be up with your father or among the warband in the camp.

Then something goes awry... perhaps one of the shamans lost control of a spirit, or in their fatigue they let spellwork unravel and it blazed into the night out of control.  All you know, is that you were the unintended target of the magical backlash.

Grendel is badly injured.  He is comatose for over a week...

It was within you all along... Magic is unpredictable and mysterious.  When Grendel awakens he finds the magical maelstrom has triggered some latent power (Adept archetype).  Your wounds are gone and you find you are now able to increase your physical and mental abilities, you can channel energy through your hands to kill if you wish, you have supernatural dexterity.

I'm just throwing this out there as an option.  The way Grendel has been acting through the prelude, calm and thoughtful, he seems like an old soul.  Perhaps he may follow this path... perhaps he followed a similar path in a past life.

We can rebuild him... Magic is unpredictable and dangerous.  When Grendel awakens he learns that the uncontrolled magic has destroyed his body (Street Samurai archetype ).  Your meat has been savaged by wild magic.  Steady Walker was able to stabilize you but the only way to save your life was an underground street doc in Yreka.  Choose (1) the magic tears you apart from inside out.  Cyberware replaces your damaged nerves and repairs your broken bones: you have Boosted reflexes and Bone Lacing or (2) the magic savages your body making one of your arms unusable: you have a full cyber arm replacement (with space for upgrades).

Here I'm sticking to the original character concept you gave me but giving the thoughtful and introspective young troll a reason to trade his meat for machines.  If you're not into the cyberware options I've laid out, feel free to play around with it.

 player, 18 posts
Sun 26 Jan 2020
at 21:59
Re: Prelude: Grendel
How does this look as an alternative? The prices should be comparable depending on the quality of the Bone Lacing you had in mind. It also kind of fits the rehabilitation theme a little more.

We can rebuild him... Magic is unpredictable and dangerous.  When Grendel awakens he learns that the uncontrolled magic has destroyed his body (Street Samurai archetype ).  Your meat has been savaged by wild magic.  Steady Walker was able to stabilize you but the only way to save your life was an underground street doc in Yreka.  The magic tears you apart, and Troll sized parts are rare enough to not be available on short notice. Instead they worked with what they had.

The Tank therapy used to treat the pervasive hemorrhaging and micro-fractures was expensive, especially for the Blackrock Clan, but it saved your life in the end.
Character gains Bioware (Bone Density Augmentation 2) and (Platelet Factory).

Mr. Johnson
 GM, 36 posts
Tue 28 Jan 2020
at 02:52
Re: Prelude: Grendel
OK, but the following ‘mechanics’ apply (using Sixth World rather than SR 5E rules):

Platelet factories: Essence 0.3, always active, reduces damage over 2 by 1.

Bone Density: Rating 2, Essence 0.6, always active, (1) deal lethal damage from physical attacks ... (2) unarmed damage 2d6(b)+2 ... (3) There is no soak roll mechanic in crunch free PBTA, so the SR5e BOD stat buff doesn’t translate... so: hold +1 for gut checks on stun damage.

Lastly, the platelet factories availability is pretty rare but oddly the clan was able to ‘convince’ that Yreka street doc into pumping your meat full of rare biotech.

Choose: (1) That tech was meant for someone else... maybe someone important... definitely someone who isn’t happy about you walking around with his/her ‘ware... take an enemy or (2) That drek they pumped you full of was experimental or tainted. You had sepsis. The pain was intense. That chop doc ‘prescribed’ nitro to help ease the pain, and wouldn’t you know, you’ve developed a bit of a taste for it...

 player, 19 posts
Tue 28 Jan 2020
at 04:23
Re: Prelude: Grendel
Mr. Johnson:

Lastly, the platelet factories availability is pretty rare but oddly the clan was able to ‘convince’ that Yreka street doc into pumping your meat full of rare biotech.
(1) That tech was meant for someone else... maybe someone important... definitely someone who isn’t happy about you walking around with his/her ‘ware...

Grendel never discovered how the Clan found about about it, or how they convinced the Doc to implant it, with everything else he is dealing with he is not even really sure he even wants to know. But the Doc had the Biotech to save Grendel, he was just very, very reluctant to part with it.

It turned out he had a very good reason to be less than forthcoming.

This thing was proprietary, meaning that it had been developed from scratch for a particular individual. It didn't even really have a name, although the concept was familiar enough to the industry. Calling it a "Platelet Factory" was also something of a misnomer, as it was more like the foundation for a complete Cardiovascular overhaul.

For those at the top of the food chain, immortality was still elusive. You could sit on a board, rule an entire Arcology, but you were still flesh and bone. A geriatric body can only take so much surgery, heal only so quickly, and even then the specter of a sudden stroke, aneurysm or infarction is always present.

This implant addressed the healing factor, it addressed vascular elasticity, it addressed oxygenation, infection and a myriad of other concerns. It had been designed to work in tandem with other Biotech like Synthcardium tissue and an Amplified Immune System, but even alone it was still a potent piece of tech, and one that had taken a lot of time and NuYen to develop. How it got out of wherever it had initially been designed and stored was another issue all together.

In short, this entirely custom piece of ware was now riding around inside a destitute Troll nomad in northern California. A filthy Metahuman that could not have hoped to afford a consultation with even one of the medical professionals that collaborated on the implant.

So despite the successful intervention of the Clan and the Street Doc to save Grendel's life, he still had a long road to recovery. Arguably worse, he was also now burdened with a debt that he was not sure he could ever hope to repay and the suspicion that somebody, somewhere would eventually come looking for their property.

This message was last edited by the player at 14:45, Tue 28 Jan 2020.