Alpha Dawn
Alpha Dawn

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Crash on Volturnus - Turn 2.1 - The Tunnels of Despair; Crash on Volturnus - Turn 2.0.1 - Chronocoms - S'lch

AlysonMilitary Skeinsuit (50/50)
CarterBlack Skeinsuit (50/50)
Ciara Anne
GeorgeMilitary Skeinsuit (50/50)
GormanBlack Skeinsuit (50/50)
Jim JitsuCivilian Skeinsuit (50/50)
MykelMilitary Skeinsuit (50/50)
  • Passage 1 leads to the south. It is completely blocked. It is the passage through which you arrived here.
  • Passage 2 leass to the east and is completely blocked.
  • Passage 3 leads to the NNE and is the direction the Ul-Mor took
  • Passage 4 leads to the NW.
  • Passage 5 leads to the west.
  • Passage 6 leads to the SSW.

GM: Whatever happened is over and there are no aftershocks so things seem fairly stable. Right now it is just a matter of picking a direction and moving on. If the group is unsure, I will send the next turn with the assumption that you head to the NW, which is the closest to your desired direction of NNE.

Once the dust has settled, the group takes stock of their situation. Some of their equipment and stores were destroyed by the collapse but enough survived that they are not in dire straights.

GM: Assume that the equipment you have on your character sheets survived, but the extra equipment you brought with you was destroyed. You are able to salvage three days worth of food for the nine of you.

You light one of the long-burning torches given to you by the Ul-Mor and investigate each of the exits. Three of the six are blocked, including the passage through which you arrived and the passage through which you were to depart in the morning, following the Ul-Mor. The collapse in that tunnel, leading roughly to the northeast, appears total.

With the northeast passage blocked, you decide to take the northwest passage. Alzarix reveals that his goggles include infrared capabilities so he takes the lead. You walk along twisting passage for about half a kilometer before it opens into a larger chamber. The floor is uneven and heavily sloped in places. Stalagmites and columns block a clear view so you take the time to explore and eventually discover three exits, one leading to the north, one to the west and the third to the southwest.

Deciding to bear as closely to the northwest as you can, the group chooses the north passage. They walk for a couple of kilometers before reaching a branch passage. Over this time, the tunnel curved from north to northwest and then to the west. The side passage heads to the south so the group continues.

They travel another kilometer and the passage curves slowly to the southwest. The mushrooms you have seen occasionally over the past two days in the tunnels appear more often now. The air becomes a bit thicker with dust and looks to get even thicker up ahead.

"Let's stop for a couple of minutes so I can take a quick air sample," Ciara says as she pulls her air sampling equipment from her envirokit.

GM: Ciara can make an Analyzing Samples roll.

CARTER: will also use his starting edge to determine if the area is safe (at least as far as it will let him)

CIARA: Ciara would like to group to mark our passage as we go along at any fork that we take. This could be as simple as stacking rocks in a way to indicate which direction we came from and then headed toward. We may also want to do some not so easily noticed or disturbed as well such as marking the walls in a subtle way.

CIARA: Analyzing Samples: 60% [rolled (3) Grievous Success!!!]

Ciara pulls out her atmospheric analyzer and checks the air. At the same time, Carter pulls out an alien looking tablet device and studies it. He touches a couple of the controls and then walks over and compares what he sees to what Ciara learns.

"There is definitely a substance in the air that I would describe as a foreign substance," she says as she runs the analysis. "It remains to be seen if it is harmful."

A short time later, she has her answer. "It is not deadly but it is toxic. I would liken it to a psychotropic effect emanating from the dust. I don't believe it is harmful in the long term or even in the short term if we can move out of it quickly and the concentration does not increase."

Looking forward down the passage to the extent of your flashlight beams, it is clear that the dust becomes thicker.

GM: Carter can also see on his alien device that it is showing a low level danger. Some of the symbols that appear are all new to him but with Ciara's analysis, he believes they relate to the mental effect of the dust. Based on what he sees, he would concur that moving deeper into the dust is a bad idea.

With regret, the group turns and heads back the way they came. They have been traveling through the caverns for five hours already and it is disheartening to have to turn back. Nevertheless, they waste no time on recriminations.

An hour later they reach the last fork that they had passed up and follow it to the south. However, it dead-ends after half a kilometer and they must again retrace their steps to the previous passage and then continue to retrace their steps to the next fork, which takes another two hours. This puts them almost back to where they started the day.

They now have a choice of west or southwest and choose west. About half an hour later, they reach a large cavern. It takes a short time to explore and determine that there is only one other exit. They follow it The the passageway gradually widens into a cavern. Your lights are not powerful enough to see the far side. A few high pitched squeaks echo toward you from deeper in the cavern. You also hear a faint fluttering. A moment later, you see a bat-like creature flying high above you and at the edge of your lights.

ENSIGN FURY: "Looks and sounds like bats. Any idea how we can safely get through here without being swarmed?"

CIARA (GM): Does Ciara have any specific knowledge about bats that could be of use? Can I assume she knows what is commonly known about bats? If so, then consider the next turn IC.

CIARA: "Well, if they're bats and they're like the bats I know, then they navigate using sound wave in the ultrasonic frequency range above human hearing. If we can rig one of our chronocomms to produce the right sound frequency, perhaps they'll avoid us."

GM: The group discusses the issue and decides that if they are bat-like, the best path forward is to minimum lights and move quietly through the area.

The group puts the plan into action and moves on. They remain as quiet as they can and dim their lights as much as possible while still allowing them to see and move forward. Five minutes pass. And then ten. The occasional flutters and squeaks slowly fall behind. After twenty minutes, the group breathes a collective sigh of relief.

The group has been traveling long today but decides to press on for another hour or two. They come to another split and decide to take the west passage instead of the north as dead reckoning tells them that north leads back in the direction of the toxic dust. A couple more hours pass and the group reaches an intersection. It has been a very long day so the group finds a relatively comfortable and defensible spot to rest. They eat some of their meager rations. They have enough for three days but decide to make them last four days so everyone is still a little hungry after eating.

The night passes uneventfully but there are are occasional, far off sounds from down the various corridors. At one point, they hear what sounds like multiple trumpeting sounds, like a herd of elephants but the sounds do not get closer.

In the morning, the group consumes more of their rations and then strikes out. They again avoid the north passage as heading to close to the toxic area and head south instead.

Two hours later, they reach another intersection. They compass tells them they have a choice between southeast and west. Since they have mostly been traveling east, they choose west. A few minutes later, the tunnel widens and curves to the northwest. A foul smell tickles at the nose and becomes more pronounced as they proceed. Both Ciara and Carter do a quick analysis of the atmosphere but find nothing alarming.

A few minutes later, the group comes across the carcass of a massive ursine - some sort of Volturnian cave bear. It is dead and appears to have been dead for several days. Nearby are the bodies of two humans. Judging by their apparel, they are pirates! Bugs swarm about the carcasses.

S'LCH: "Well I guess we are about to find out what kind of scavengers this place has.. Clearly this would be a prime target for such". The vrusk wanted to see if the pirates had anything useful on them, but he knew he needed to wait until the others gave the all clear.

ALYSON: She asks,"Think light will get the bugs off the bodies?"

GORMAN: I will urge the others to hold back for a bit and then cautiously approach and inspect the bodies, both the cave bear and the pirates under good light. I want to make sure that there isn't a risk of infection. I will don a pair of latex gloves from my medkit to examine the body closer if my survey doesn't indicate danger. I want to try to figure out how they died.

JIM JITSU: Jim continues practicing the classic Fluidism kata's as adapted for from the dralasite philosophy and martial art of that name for non dralasite species. Fluidism has deep roots in the writings of the ancient Mol's and predates first contact with the vrusk but it saw its greatest development in philosophical thought in contact with the other space faring species of the Frontier. For some the philosophy approaches the power of religious belief, Jim never went in for religious philosophical side of Fluidism simply seeing it as a means to survival while in jail. But he's been wondering about the universal "Da" and the connection of all life to all life and the implications of his connection to the pirates this group fought. Maybe he should have paid more attention to the philosophical preaching of his dralasite cell mate.

JIM JITSU: He will train and spar with anyone who wishes as they travel the Tunnels of Despair.He uses what philosophy he does remember to try to buoy the spirits of his compatriots.

JIM JITSU: [rolled (1) Grievous Success!!!] PER check to buoy the spirits of the group and keep attitudes positive.

JIM JITSU: Grievous Success! Jim is so funny that even the darkness is happier at his presence.

While Jim does a great job in keeping spirits up, Gorman moves forward to investigate the dead body of the massive bear. He pulls out a pair of latex gloves and carefully examines the body. It is clear to Gorman that the bear died from wounds inflicted by modern weapons but he is more concerned with any sort of infestation that might have occurred post-mortem. He finds little sign of decay and only moderate signs of activity from carrion eaters. He suspects that the bear has not been dead for more than a few hours.

He moves on to investigate the bodies of the humans. Both are wearing black skeinsuits. One is armed with a large pistol and the other holds a sword. Some equipment is scattered about the cavern. A study of the situation leads to the conclusion that a group of humans was camped here and was surprised by the massive ursine. The humans fought back. Some fled and these two died. A closer look at the bodies indicates that they were probably pirates. Their unkempt look and accessories are in line with what the group saw of the pirates on the Serena Dawn though these two are wearing badly mangled skeinsuits.

Gorman finds no signs of dangerous parasites on any of the bodies so the group moves in to search. They find the following:
  • Magnesium Flares - 20 cm long cylinders are hard neoplastic with a spark cap at one end. Several members of the group recognize them as magnesium flares. The spark cap at the end is forcibly removed, creating a spark that lights the flare. It is then carried as a very long burning torch, lasting about 12 hours. The group finds 3 of them.
  • Gyrojet pistol - One of the dead pirates was armed with this. There are two rounds left in the chamber and a spare clip of 10 rounds on his belt.
  • Sword - The other pirate was armed with this. It is well cared for and shows signs of frequent use.
  • Black Skeinsuits - Both pirates were wearing them. Each skeinsuit has sustained 2d10+15 points of damage. One of the skeinsuits has sustained [rolled 2 8 (+15)- Total: 25] points of the damage and the other [rolled 4 8 (+15)- Total: 27] points of damage.
  • Skeinsuit Repair Kits - Each skeinsuit has a repair kit that can be used to repair up to 50 points of damage.
  • Rations - The group finds two sacks, one containing 5 person days of food and the other containing 9 person days of food.
  • Jewelry - The pirates were wearing several pieces of "pirate jewelry". Jim can make an Appraisals roll to determine the value.
  • Credsticks - Each pirate carried a credstick. One credstick has [rolled 115] credits and the other has [rolled 124] credits.

The group takes the equipment and then moves on. As the group exits the cavern where the battle took place, Ciara notes spots on the ground that, on closer examination, are likely blood. She watches them as they group moves on and, about a hundred meters later on, the group finds a yazirian body. The body is dressed in clothing that was once nice but is now little more than rags. His hands are manacled together in front of him. Gorman looks him over as he did the previous bodies and determines that the man suffered grievous claw wounds. He was likely badly wounded by the cave bear and fled in this direction, perhaps with other survivors of the battle, but was losing a lot of blood. He collapsed here and died. Alzarix recognizes him as one of the passengers from the Serena Dawn.

The presence of the yazirian indicates that another lifeboat from the Serena Dawn likely came down near an entrance to these caverns and the survivors fled inside. The pirates then found the lifeboat and sent in a group to round up the prisoners but, after finding one or more prisoners, was surprised by the bear as they slept.

GM: I will pause here to allow people to interject and suggest courses of action.

CARTER: Would like to take the sword as a backup for his trusty nightstick, buns still being outside of his experience.

GORMAN: I have to admit I'm not trained at all in fighting with buns either. I do love eating them though.

CARTER (GM): For the black skeinsuits - what skill would be required (if any) to utilize the repair kits? And once repaired, could one of us pass as a pirate if dressed in one? At least from a distance...

S'LCH: The vrusk was a bit disappointed when it turned out the pirates did not have any good tech gear. While he was more then willing to help fix or repair things he had no personal interest in the stuff. "So the pirates are taking prisoners... I do not know if that is a good thing or not

ALYSON asks,"Anyone good with a Gryo jet pistol? Gryo rifles are my specialty."

ALYSON: If No one takes the Gryo pistol she will. And start getting a feel for it. Plus any extra mags and how many rounds are left in the clip?

CIARA: Once the group lays out the acquired gear, Ciara will offer to become skilled in melee weapons. "I did some light sparring with the fencing team and it would be better than relying on a laser pistol with 20 SEU left." She doesn't have a strong opinion on what she takes whether it's the sword or a spare melee weapon.

CIARA (OOC): It's best if everyone in the group has a weapon they're skilled at. I have enough EXP to buy a rank in melee weapons. I will likely also save up to buy a rank in some ranged weapon type.

CARTER (GM): agree with Ciara; I am debating on buying one rank of gyro jet just to have a distance weapon but haven’t pulled trigger yet...

GORMAN: According to the turn, there are 2 rounds left in the pistol and one spare clip of 10 rounds in his belt.

GORMAN: "The extra food will help but we really need to find a source of water. I say let's take what we need and keep moving. We need to be careful that we don't blunder into more pirates as it is clear they are down in these tunnels and may have more prisoners with them."

CIARA: Ciara agrees with Gorman.

CIARA (GM): Has Ciara encountered a clean water source that we can refill our water skills at?

JIM JITSU: Jim inspects the credit sticks and jewelry and muses out loud, "We're beginning to amass the beginnings of a bribe.I may be able to run a bluff or bribe a pirate for us some time in the future."

JIM JITSU: Appraising the jewelry
[rolled (45) Near Success]
[rolled (99) Absolute Failure!]

JIM JITSU: Kneeling beside the yazirian's body Jim unlocks the manacles [vroll-55] (or failing a skill check cuts them loose with the laser scaple) carefully arranges the body searching it for identification before fashioning a crude knife with odds and ends he saved from their destroyed vehicle. Placing the knife on the chest of the yazirian he says, "No warrior should go take the final journey unarmed, may the Spirit of Yazira and your clan receive you at the One Tree."
Jim takes the time to collect rocks and make a quick cairn burial knowing full well that this may not be the custom of this yazirian's clan but it seems the most respectful thing he can do given the circumstances.

JIM JITSU: Noticing, others looking at him, he says, "I'm no priest but I've heard similar said by yazirians at the death of one of their own."
After a pause, "If we know who he was we should try to notify his clan about his death, tell them that he resisted until the end and that we buried him with a weapon."

JIM JITSU OOC: I dont see any point in putting skien suit repair kits into a bag. If anyone has a skien suit that has suffered damage it should be repaired immediately for the next combat. The black pirate skein suits should be saved with an eye to using one when running a bluff or con- something Jim is highly skilled at. To the Great and Powerful DM: I looked on my character sheet but could not see any damage to my skein suite- although I think I was actually shot not hit in melee on the Serena Dawn.

JIM JITSU: When the group stops to camp again Jim offers to repair anyone's skien suit who needs it.

Alyson practically pounces on the gyrojet pistol. She is thrilled to finally have a ranged weapon with which she is skilled. She loses no time in swapping out the partial magazine for the full one giving her a full clip of 10 in the pistol and two spare rounds.

Carter grabs up the sword and he and Ciara examine it. Both are pleased with the balance and the sharpness. As Carter swings it about, Ciara removes the scabbard from the dead pirate.

GM: Both Carter and Ciara have expressed interest in the sword. Let me know who will take it.

CIARA: "What do you think, Carter? Would you rather have the sword or the nightstick?"

CIARA (OOC): This isn't in character since Ciara isn't that pushy but as a player, I think Ciara will be best suited to take the sword. She's got good stats for being a melee combatant. Surprisingly, she's tied as the 2nd strongest character in the group. She's got the highest stamina. Her dex and reaction speed are also up there. I'd suggest Carter keep his nightstick and Ciara can take the sword.

CARTER: agree; eventually he would like to upgrade but he has been surprisingly effective (i.e. die bot likes him...)

Gorman and Jim strip off the black skeinsuits and clean them up a bit. Repairing them will be a task left for when the group makes camp for the night. The only other person who had suffered damage to their skeinsuit was Ensign Fury, who will happily use the repair kit later on to repair his armor.

GM: The skeinsuits are sized for humans, specifically human males of moderate size. It probably makes the most sense for Gorman and Carter to wear, and later repair them.

Jim later investigates the pirate jewelry. He identifies some of the jewelry as being of moderate value but is not able to identify everything.

Later on, when the group finds the dead body of the yazirian, Jim presides over a makeshift ceremony with the aid of Alzarix, who is also a yazirian.

The group has yet to find a water source and their canteens are running dry. They continue down the interminable passages and tunnels of these never-ending underground caverns. The passage opens up to a wider passage after another hour or so and the group, exhausted from their long day, makes camp.

The night passes uneventfully and the group uses more of their food and very meager water supplies. An hour or so later, they come to a large cavern which, upon deeper exploration, contains half a dozen other exits. Since the group has been trying to make their way generally north and west of late, they choose the passage that most closely heads in that direction, knowing fully well that it could easily twist and turn and send them in another direction.

In fact, the passage bears a bit west of north for the next couple of hours before turning sharply west and then north again about 15 minutes later. Then it turns almost due east before opening into a large cavern about 20 minutes later. The cavern is vast and it takes time to explore but, after an hour or so, they find only one other exit. and it leads due north. However, during their search, they could hear the distant sounds of flowing water at one point. It is not coming from the exit and they finally track it down to a section of wall where they can hear water flowing from beyond the wall.

GM: Let me know what you want to do. Your canteens are now empty.

GORMAN: Hearing the sounds of flowing water beyond the wall, I say, "Well that sounds promising! I don't suppose one of you technician types has something in your tool kit that can tunnel through stone?"

ALZARIX: maybe I could find a hole in the wall or a thinner spot in the wall with my IR goggles.

CIARA: Ciara was encouraged by the sound of rushing water nearby. "Do any of you have ideas on how we might be able to access the water? I would caution that we'll want to be very careful if we have a way of cutting through the rock. It could have dangerous implications both through the stability of the cavern and potential flooding. Barring that, let's see if we can find a natural way to access the water. Trying the exit might still lead to water. Getting fresh water should be our top priority."

CIARA (GM): Does Ciara have any sort of instruments that could aid us in finding the water source? Does Ciara get a sense that the water might be accessible via the exit, either through sound or smell?

CIARA: She'll ask the others who might have sharper senses if they can pick up a trail to the water, especially S'lch.

CARTER (GM): any readings on his alien tool?

Alzarix studies the wall with his goggles while Ciara half-heartedly pulls out her envirokit to see if there is anything there that might help. Carter pulls out the alien tablet that he carries around with him and aims it at the wall. He fiddles with some of the controls as the moves the tablet around over the wall. Then he steps back to see a wider slice of the wall. As usual, he has difficulty understanding the many symbols that appear. He studies them for a bit in this new context. Ciara comes over to look over his shoulder, as does George. Noticing them looking, Carter points to a section of the wall displayed on the alien screen and says, "I think this might be indicating a weaker or thinner section of stone. Perhaps with the the help of the prybars and hammers, and maybe even the jacks, from the techkits, we might be able to breach the wall."

Ciara nods and adds, "But let's not get our hopes up too high. Even if we breach it, the water may not be drinkable."

As Alzarix and Jim unload their heavy techkits and open them up, they are already studying the wall in the greenish light of the magnesium torch. What is the best way to breach the wall?

GM: Those with Technician skill can send Gadgetry rolls to come up with the best means of breaching the wall in the thin section shown by Carter's alien device. It is essentially a brainstorming session so you each get a roll and I will use the best roll.

ALZARIX: Looking over our supplies he he tries to come up with different options on how to get through the wall to the water, hopefully quickly and as quietly as possible. Gadgetry roll of [rolled (85) Failure]

CARTER: Carter doesn't know gadgetry but does have a general knowledge of civil engineering and will try to use this to help with the knockdown of the wall.

CARTER TECH: Civil Engineering [rolled (90) Failure]

CARTER (GM): The reason we were in these tunnels was to help get the natives help in attacking the pirates. I understand this is now about survival but are we still working towards the challenge, tracking the pirates in these caves or neither of the above??

JIM JITSU: Jim gamely sets up equipment and begins to apply force where directed. Gadgetry roll [rolled (96) Absolute Failure!]

The technical types in the group put their heads together to come up with a plan for busting through the wall. They finally agree that Jim has the best idea of making use of leverage and a hydraulic jack and go about setting it up. It involves rolling rocks into a line to create a solid, sideways base for the jack to push against and then using the power of the jack to puncture through. Unfortunately it does not go as planned and all the jack does is move the rocks. No amount of bracing seems to work to create a solid base. They finally give it up and try to come up with an alternative plan.

GM: Go ahead and send new Gadgetry rolls, but this time at -5. Note that Carter actually does have Gadgetry. It is under Technician skill. He can also send a Civil Engineering roll.

CARTER: After the failure of their first attempt, the technicians get their heads together and try again. Possibly trying to break off one big chuck of rock to brace the hammer so it can punch through to the water source? Included -5 on CE roll.

Gadgetry [rolled (18) Success]
Civil Engineering [rolled (77) Failure]

S'LCH His particular expertise did not lend itself to solving this problem, but be could follow directions easily enough... Even if it was just stay out of the way.

ALZARIX: attempt number 4. Gadgetry roll of [rolled (30) Success].

JIM JITSU: Jim smacks Alzarix on the back, "Good job."

More time passes as the technicians try to find a way to breach the wall and gain access to the water. The canteens are long dry and everyone is thirsty. Parched lips abound.

Finally Carter and Alzarix come up with a way that might work. It includes a combination of brute force using hammers and application of critical leverage using the jacks. Unlike the first attempt, this is not a quick solution. It could take hours.

An hour passes and everyone works hard to move rocks and chip away at the wall. The jacks are employed to create cracks and take advantage of stress points. Another hour passes. And then three more with no water to slake burgeoning thirsts.

It is Mykel who finally gets in the lucky strike. He is chipping away at the wall as Jim, Alzarix and Carter are working to brace the jack yet again to create another crack. His hammer strikes heavily, driven by Mykel's rising frustration tempered only slightly by his weakened condition. A stream of water shoots half a dozen meters across the cavern. Mykel shouts for joy and steps forward, opening his mouth to taste what must surely be clean, fresh water. Then he remembers the well in the desert and the heavy concentration of arsenic in the water there. He wills himself back and waits as Ciara rushes forward to test the water. An interminable minute later, Ciara pronounces the water safe for drinking. It is a bit high in alkaline but not high enough to be unsafe.

By now everyone has their canteens open and, as Ciara declares the water safe, everyone takes their turn at inserting their canteen into the shooting stream and filling just enough for a good drink. Gorman and Ciara both caution everyone to drink slowly and lightly. A second drink follows the first. And then a third. As thirst slackens, everyone fills their canteens to the top.

It is late in the day and everyone is completely exhausted from their day's toils. The group sets up camp and eats some of their remaining rations. By this time, everyone's canteen is full. The alkaline taste of the water does not prevent it from being among the best water the group has ever tasted. The water stream continues to shoot out all night, pooling in irregularities in the floor and creating some new pools in the massive cavern.

CIARA: "Great work, guys. It was looking pretty bad there. Let's keep our spirits up as we continue on."

ALYSON: Alyson says,"Very nice work. Great job. I thought we were goners for sure."

ALZARIX: When working with Jim on setting up the jack he asks him, "A while back you told us about how you came to be on the Serena Dawn. I was wondering why you would have to run away just because you were giving private lessons on self defense to some on your students? It just seems silly that her husband would get mad at that."

JIM JITSU: Jim smirks then chuckles, "One of those self defense students was the wife of a Royal Marine officer and the private lessons involved working on her pelvic tilt and her husband objected when he found out he also had anger management issues and was not above using his position to get even. However, the rent was past due on my commercial space and I was not going to be able to pay it so it seemed like a good time to, as they say, 'Get out of Dodge.' Seek a fresh start some place else where I dont have a checkered past. Volturnus was not what I had in mind though but perhaps its a bit of what they call karma; prior to Clarion I was a thief and con artist in the slum known as Rook Archology outside Port Loren till a brief stay in jail where my dralasite cell mate taught me martial arts and tried to convert me to Fluidism so this cock up with the pirates may just be the galaxy trying to force me to confront my criminal past, like I cant have that fresh start till I do. So I while I was never swayed by all that philosophical clap trap about fate and some sort of divine plan its hard for me not to see events as possibly part of some cosmic plan."

With filled canteens, and any other container capable of holding water filled to the capacity of the group to carry them, the group continues down the interminable passages of this endless maze of tunnels. They all got a good night's sleep and are hoping that a new day, with fresh water, will lead them out of the tunnels. The only way out of the cavern where they found the water is a passage leading due north.

The group follows the passage for the next four hours or so. It does not branch but does curve first to the northwest, then north and then northeast before entering another massive cavern. After searching it for over an hour, they find passages leading east, south, west and two passages leading to the southwest, including the one they entered by. Since the group has been trending to the north and west, they choose the passage heading west and follow it for about an hour before it branches. One branch heads south and the other southwest.

They follow the southwest passage which branches again shortly thereafter, with one branch continuing to the southwest and the other to the northwest. Unfortunately, the northwest branch ends after an hour and they are forced to turn back and follow the other branch.

Another hour later, they reach another massive cavern. Half an hour of searching reveals two branches, both heading south. One is to the west of the other and they follow it. Two hours later they reach another intersection with a branch heading due north and another heading east. An analysis of their path so far indicates that the north branch may head back to the previous cavern or at least in that direction so they choose the east passage. They follow it for the rest of the day. They find a wide spot in the tunnel and camp for the night.

With almost nothing left in the way of rations, the group continues on the next morning. After a couple of hours, the passage starts to warm up. As you continue south, the passage becomes increasingly hot as you advance. You round a narrow bend and see a large cavern ahead. A fiery, red glow illuminates the chamber, and you feel an intense heat coming from it. As you move forward, your passage opens onto a narrow ledge overlooking a vast lake of molten rock.

Large pillars of crystal rise out of the lake to the height of your ledge, which is nearly 30 meters above the fiery surface. Near the middle of the lake, two or more of these crystals are fused at the top, forming narrow bridges. Many stalactites hang to within 3 meters of the crystal tops. Some of these stalactites are huge and well anchored; others appear thinner and shakily attached. As you watch, one of the thin stalactites falls from the ceiling into the lake below. While you study the scene, you notice that occasional jets of flaming gasses and molten rock stream out of the lake, splashing against the crystal pillars and even the ceiling of the cavern.

There doesn't appear to be any safe way across the lake, for your ledge runs only part way around the lake. On the other side, you can see a similar ledge, with a passage leading away from the lake. The distance between the two ledges appears to be about 200 meters.

GM: I will send an image of the cavern and map separately. Let me know your thoughts on how you want to try to cross.

S'LCH: "Seems like this is another dead end... unless we can fly" the vrusk commented tiredly.

MYKEL: “I’m with ya buddy. This does not look like a good idea. Let’s try the other tunnels and see if there’s a different way to go.”

CIARA: "Yeah, I don't have any ideas on how to cross the chasm here. Anyone else have some suggestions or should we look elsewhere?"

Alyson says,"Let's go another way."

CARTER : does it look like we can jump from one set of crystal to another safely?

As sweat pours down from the intense heat of the chamber, the group studies the situation. Discouragement sets in as there does not seem to be an easy way across. Retreating and looking for another way means backtracking for at least 5 kilometers to reach another likely branch which may or may not lead anywhere. The ledge on the far side of the lava lake seems an unreachable destination, as is the passage leading off from it.

Looking thoughtful, Carter muses, "I wonder if we could jump from one set of crystals to another."

He backs up to the wall just to the side of the exit leading back into the passages and finds some footholds that allow him to climb a couple meters up and get a better view of the crystals. He finds that some of them are certainly within easy stepping or jumping distance. Others form bridges that, collectively, lead halfway across the lake. He pulls out his alien tablet and presses a few buttons that he learned long ago and takes a few pictures of the area and then says, "Let's retreat into the relative coolness of the passage and study what we have. I'm not quite ready to give up on this yet."

As Carter is doing this, Gorman suddenly points down into the lake and says, "Isn't that a human skeleton down there?"

Sure enough, a human skeleton burned by the lava and heat, is wedged among some crystals halfway across the room.

"That's not all," George says. He is looking at the opposite ledge. "I think I see some discarded debris on the ledge over there."

He points it out to others and they agree that they appear to be discarded wrappings from a ration pack. Perhaps the pirates whom the group knows to be in the caverns came this way and successfully crossed, losing one of their members in the crossing.

The group retreats back into the tunnel leading to the lake of lava, far enough back to escape the heat and then makes themselves comfortable. Carter lays his alien tablet on the ground so everyone can see the images he took of the room. As he is doing so, he notices a couple of controls he had not previously noticed and plays with them. Suddenly, a three dimensional representation of the room springs from the tablet and hovers in the air over it. The representation is very detailed. After admiring the effect for a bit, the group gets to discussing the challenge.

Studying the map, George suggests, "Two methods of crossing suggest themselves. One is to jump from crystal to crystal where we can and the other is to rope an overhanging stalactite and swing from crystal to crystal. If we want to cross, both methods will need to be used as some of the spans are too wide to jump. Fortunately we have a lot of rope."

GM: The group takes a quick tally of their rope supply and finds that they have a total of 20 bundles of nylon rope, each 15 meters in length.

"The trick," George adds, "is trying to cross as safely as possible so we don't end up like that poor sap who fell." He then traces out a possible route across the lake.

"What about that path?" he asks. "It allows us to step from crystal to crystal for part of the way, walk along crystal bridges for part of the way but will three places where we might have to span the distance by lassoing a stalactite and swinging across, with safety ropes of course."

He turns to everyone and asks, "I don't suppose we have any aspiring acrobats among us, do we?"

GM: Map to follow shortly highlighting George's suggest route.

CIARA: The young scientist whistles at George's plan with marvel. "I can see it but I don't know if I have the skills to pull off that sort of act. I've done a fair amount of athletics in school but I was never a gymnast." She looks around to see if anyone else speaks up.

MYKEL: looks at George's map, then at the pit of doom, then back at the map. "You do realize that some of those gaps are more than 10 meters? Most people can't jump that far, even with a running start."

ENSIGN FURY: "That is correct. For those sections we will need to rely on the stalactites."

ALZARIX: Well I might not be able to jump that distance but I may be able to glide over some of those crossing spots. Let's look at the 3d hologram again to see if it is feasible to do that. I am also wondering about the strength of the ropes as they will be affected by the intense heat in the room. Them I also has the whip that i procured from one of the pilots on the ship. May be could use that to rest out or knock down some of the unstable stalactite possibly. I will also have to see how well I glee in these hot conditions. Should maybe be updrafts maybe?

GM: On this planet (1.0 gravity) Yazirians lose 1 meter of altitude for every meter forward and can glide a maximum of 10 meters. You can find all of the information about Yazirians on the website under Rules and Information > Character Generation > Races.

ALYSON: "Well between luck and skill. Plus helping each other we should be able to make it."

CIARA: "I think with the ropes and your gliding, we should be able to figure it out. It's good to make sure the ropes are strong enough and won't be compromised by the heat. Jim, this seems right up your alley. Have you done any acrobatics?"

S'LCH: The vrusk listened to the ideas being given to move forward. He did not really like it. His additional mass and lack of physical strength would be a liability. Even all roped together if he missed a jump which he considered likely, even if he did not die the other could have issues pulling him back up.

S'LCH: "Do we have any skilled climbers, or people familiar enough to know how to set up the ropes? Also what about protection from the heat? A splash or a misstep could put any of us much closer then we want to be... then it is safe to be."

ENSIGN FURY: George pulls his lucky stone out of his pocket and begins flipping it in the air. "I know that this crossing is fraught with danger. Even the easy parts, where we can step from crystal top to crystal top, are risky because of the lava streams that shoot up at intervals."

ENSIGN FURY: He continues, speaking calmly but forcefully, "I believe with all my heart that this is the only route of escape open to us. We have some evidence that the pirates escaped this way and perhaps they even came in this way though that seems less likely. In any event, this FEELS like the way out and I think we need to attempt it, regardless of the challenges."

Ciara examines the ropes and says, "These are, for the most part, decent quality ropes and should be up to the task. The heat shouldn't weaken them but a direct splash from a lava stream certainly will burn them."
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