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Unfathomable! Session 10

Ye Dogs of Destiny must choose sides... and the fate of all futurity hangs in the balance!

The Campaign: Operation Unfathomable! and Odious Uplands!, both by Jason Sholtis

The Ruleset: 5e

Ye Dogs of Destiny:

  • Brother Ded, a monk/political shit-stirrer.
  • Mort, a fugitive from Imperial justice.
  • Greta, a baby-eating hag-turned-Citizen Lich. 
  • Ulther, a ranger and artifact smuggler. 
  • Zinee, a wooly neanderthal druid/cosmetologist. 
  • Toljin, a magical boy raised by pirates. 
  • Doloth, an unwilling-Citizen Lich. (absent)

The Story So Far

Ye Dogs of Destiny, having travelled into the Underworld in pursuit of the legendary Nul Rod, are caught up in a clash between their temporary companion, Professor Zabon Gormontine the Robot Master, and his academic rival, Dr. Ephraim Thontorius the Uplifted Bear!

This Session

Last session ended mid-battle, so we began right at the top of Initiative for round 3.

The party is stretched out in a line along a subterranean tunnel, with the robophiliac Professor Gormontine and one of his guardbots at their rear, and his other robot at the front. The front robot has just dropped Dr. Thontorius, farther ahead along the tunnel, with a stun blast. 

Zinee tries to slow everybody down by casting entanglement on the who area, but Gormontine spider-climbs up onto the ceiling and begins to make his way towards his downed foe. Brother Ded is able to wrestle Gormontine's energy pistol from him. Ded first accidentally blasts the entire party, but then turns a blast directly on Gormontine. Gormontine is barely slowed, however, and skitters up to the unconscious bear. His hands split open into a tangle of scalpels, and he does his best to disembowel Thontorius.

Greta, her intelligence reduced to 3 by the Psychephage's psychic predations, nevertheless is the first to notice that the combat has drawn the attention of an Eye of Shaggath-Ka. Having spotted its quarry, it turns around to alert the nearest battalion of Worm Soldiers. Greta can see the tunnel walls reflecting red light as the Eye flashes the kill-signal. She may not have her full intellectual abilities back, but she remembers her previous two encounters with these flying scouts, and fires off a barrage of magical missiles. This kills the Eye, and saves the Party from becoming embroiled in a second, much more dangerous combat as they wrap the present one up.

The party trades blows with the guardbots. Thontorius is roused from his stunned condition by Gormontine's attack, and pushes him off with a mighty bear paw. Zinee turns back into her Lisa Frank-inspired bear form, and bites down hard on Gormontine's skull, ripping off his flash-mask, revealing, to no particular surprise, that Gormontine was a robot himself. Gormontine and his robots are taken out, but the Party is in rough shape. After the briefest of introductions, they ask Thontorius if he knows a place where they could rest and recuperate.

"Yes, my flaying saucer isn't too far. That is... um, my carriage. A special carriage that can travel through time and space." 

Brother Ded and Greta collaborate on hiding the briefcase Greta had stolen from Thontorius mid-battle, and the party trots off to go see the saucer. They pass by a few sites that I hope they'll come back to explore later, including a giant palisade blocking one cavern, and a Fungal Garden/Research Station operated by the Science Fungoids. The little toadstool guys insist that the humans stop and participate in their research efforts, but Brother Ded makes a persuasive bluff, claiming that they are in the middle of an urgent experiment into the nature of linear time. The fungoids extract a promise that the PCs will return, and try to sweeten the inducement by offering a container of anti-personnel fungal puffballs. "Very dangerous!"

Thontorius warns the PCs that the Science fungoids are "admirably curious and have a dedication to scientific inquiry unmatched in this Arcane Age," that they are unfailingly polite and cheerful, but "wholly devoid of moral or ethical restraint."

Arriving at Thontorius's flying saucer, they find it trapped in a cavern that fits it but only has tiny person-sized tunnels leading in and out of it. "After the initial spatio-temporal transition, there have been distinct challenges to navigating the Underworld environment," admits Thontorius.

Inside the saucer, ye Dogs of Destiny are able to eat, shower, rest, and avail themselves to far-future medical technology. And they advance to Level 3!

As they take a moment of leisure, Thontorius explains the situation between himself and the late Zabon Gormontine. They shared an office space back at Omni-Cosmic University. When Gormontine went missing some time back, Thontorius was concerned enough to go snooping through his desk. There he found reams and reams of calculations that caused immediate concern.

"I have pored over every detail and triple-checked Zabon's results. A single, chilling outcome is clear: on its current causal trajectory, the Galaxy is careening towards a robot uprising with the end result eliminating all organic life. This extinction event will spread across the Universe, with the percentage of remaining life asymptotically approaching zero.

"Zabon has identified a single locus on which this outcome is determined. Astoundingly, it preceded the advent of robotics, space travel, or even science as the primary structural reference for universal mechanics. This locus point lies in our shrouded pre-history, this Age of Swords and Sorcery.

"To my horror, Zabon appears to have identified this locus point not to prevent the robot uprising, but to ensure it. And I found myself faced with an outrageous choice: Allow Zabon's vision of a Universe devoid of organic life to unfold, or manipulate the locus event myself—sacrificing all of science-based futurity in favor of a never-ending Arcane Age."

In short, Thontorius wants to find a destroy the Nul Rod. He's had a rough time trying to navigate the Underworld on his own, and is eager to work with the PCs—especially if that means he gets to stay back at the Saucer and let them use it as safe harbor during their explorations.

They players seem eager to form this alliance, but I have doubts as to what they will do when the get their hands on the Nul Rod. They have, after all, stolen the poor bear's briefcase, and just twiddled their thumbs as he was tearing his fur out trying to find it.


We had about half an hour left, and I used the time to ask for feedback on the campaign so far. I used Sly Flourish's "stars and wishes" approach.
  • Stars: events, elements, or mechanics that you enjoyed and would like to highlight
  • Wishes: things you would like to see in the future
Note that this doesn't ask for negative feedback. You're unlikely to get good results from asking for what people don't like (decent folks are too polite and appreciative of the fact that your already putting in the effort to GM). But "wishes" does leave room for people to lay out a vision of the game that is different that the current vision, which can be helpful.

The things I learned:
  • People really like Operation: Unfathomable. It has such a variety of unexpected weirdness, and they appreciate the openness of options as they explore around. There's a good balance of randomness and structure. Nobody feels like there is a correct path to follow. And there's lots of interesting lore to dig up.
  • To my surprise, lots of people cited the combats as a highlight. I usually treat combat as a way to break up the pace between roleplaying and investigation. Because Operation: Unfathomable has so many asymmetrical combat scenarios, I've had to pay them more attention than I normally would. This challenge as spurred some creativity, and the results have been good!
  • For wishes, people mostly reflected on themselves. A few folks want to dig into their characters deeper. And the party collectively realized that they have not been using their trove of magic items, and resolved to organize their goods more efficiently.
All in all, energy is good, enthusiasm is high, and everyone seems engaged! I can't wait for next week!


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