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Unfathomable! Session 11

 Ye Dogs of Destiny encounter the Cultists of Nul and travel the Devil's Highway!

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. (absent)
  • Mort, a fugitive from Imperial justice. (absent)
  • 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 have traveled into the Underworld in pursuit of the legendary Nul Rod. After harrowing adventures, they have settled into a peaceful night's rest in the time traveling flying saucer of Dr. Ephraim Thontorius.

This Session

We had three people out this week. With seven players, this needn't slow us down at all—we still have four on deck. When folks can't make it, we describe them as having been swept up by a quantum rift and broken down into a wavefront that then collapses when they can rejoin us. It makes just enough sense to preclude further consideration.

However, Brother Ded's player, who will be out for several weeks, asked for a customized exit from that tied into some shhh... secret! backstory shenanigans he has going on.

So, play began with Brother Ded hanging out with the rest of the party in Thontorius's saucer, when BAM! In a cloud of sulphorous smoke, the devil-mantis the party had seen talking to the Science Fungoids appears! It points a claw at Ded and says, "I knew I recognized you, scum. You're coming with—SHE wants to see you." Brother Ded started to protest, trying to buy time to spin up some loquacious bluff, but the devil-mantis just grabbed him by the scruff and BAM! They were gone again with nothing but the smell of rotten eggs to remember them by.

The party recovered from this odd turn of events, and settled in for the night. Zinee was ill at ease in the wholly manufactured environment of a space ship from the future, and tossed and turned in her bunk. Toljin slept deeply, but dreamt he was back on Goddard's pirate ship, the Scabrous Whore. He was climbing the rigging to look at the night sky. He found his attention fixated not on the stars, but the deep, empty spaces between them. He is struck by the realization that the stars mean nothing without the space between them to define them. The void, too, must be celebrated.

The next morning (the beginning of their fifth day in the Underworld), Dr. Thontorius introduces them to coffee and crispy protein squares for breakfast. They chat about how to start their search, when an alarm goes off, and Thontorius jumps up to check on it. "Oh no!" he cries, "they've done it!" His saucer's array has picked up a signal sent by technology from his time period. It seems that OmniCosmic University decided to take action, and sent a squad of Campus Security through the spatio-temporal fistula to collect its missing faculty members. Given that Thontorius has abetted the murder of his colleague, and is planning on wiping his entire future time-stream out of existence, he does not expect a friendly reunion with his Dean. He lets the Party know that he hopes they have several days before his location is discovered, but that they should be prepared to continue without him, should he be captured. He asks them to give him their most solemn promise that, whatever happens, they will destroy the Nul Rod. The party hems and haws a bit, only committing to ensuring that it doesn't land in King Syantides' hands.

Toljin offers his chained sending stone to Thontorius, so they can stay in communication. They demonstrate their function, which is the first time they have used them since stealing them from the Apis Irregulars. Suddenly, another voice comes out of the stone. "Who is this? Where is my granddaughter? Why has she failed to report to me?" The party surmises that this must be referring to Auruna of House Apis. Greta, who is slowly recovering her intelligence, but is still only at a five, tries to imitate Auruna. Her Grandfather, the Grand Lich Athanathius, is neither fooled nor willing to tolerate foolishness. "You pass a message to that foolish child: that if she has neither talent nor wit to survive her taste for misadventure, she should not delude herself that death might be the end of her obligations to this House. A dutiful revenant will serve just as well as an unaccomplished granddaughter. And don't think I won't send a servant to check that this message is delivered!"


On that note, the party heads out. The pick a tunnel and start walking. Soon enough, they hear marching footsteps approaching. They decide to retreat back the saucer. From inside, they watch on monitors as 12 muscular figures, carrying 2 sedan chairs, each with a figure on them, emerge from the tunnel into the cavern the saucer is moored in. The remarkable thing about the 12 figures is that they are all missing their heads and have had bronze antennae implanted in their stead. The folks riding in the sedan chairs (pictured, right) do have have their heads, on which they have perched some fancy helmets. The headless grunts take no heed of the saucer, but the riders do, and are clearly astounded. Three of the grunts, called decapitantes, are sent back the way they came, and after a bit more gapping, the procession continues on through another tunnel.

The party, concluding that these are Cultists of Nul, decide to sneak after the three on the assumption that they were sent back to report the saucer to some sort of headquarters. They catch up with their quarry and dispatch them pretty quickly.

At this time, Greta decides to investigate the contents of the briefcase she purloined from Thontorius. She finds a datapad, which she somehow figures out how to use, but doesn't investigate it very much, and a bunch of data crystals for it. There's some oddments, like a dopp kit and some manicotti and algae protein cubes. And there is the torn remnant of a paper book from this era: On the Cult of the Mindless God.

This books provides some timely background on the Cult of Nul including the source of the cult's appeal:
Worshipers queue up outside one of the many small temples, pay a modest fee (all Underworld currencies accepted), and await their turn to stare into Nul’s Abyss, said abyss guaranteed to stare back into them. Unknown eldritch energies emanate forth from the black pit and—following a brief period of helpless stupefaction—the celebrant emerges from the temple with an immediately noticeable relief from ennui, anxiety, avarice, envy, and hostility. 

When worshippers are far enough gone, the cult's cynical priests convert them into decapitantes, and add them to their growing army of perfectly obedient, headless soldiers.

While the literate members of the party pored over this book, Zinee wandered ahead a bit to scout, and found herself face-to-face with another wooly neanderthal. He is Kholopho, a haggard ascetic who has wandered into the Underworld on a spiritual quest. He takes Zinee's companions to be spirits, and throws himself at their feet, begging them to answer his questions.

Toljin: Uh, sure.

Kholopho: Tell Kholopho, O spirits, what makes good wooly neanderthal?

Toljin: Well, we all just try to assess the outcomes of our actions and do the things that we think will lead to the best outcomes...

Kholopho [grabbing Toljin's lapels in desperate need, tears streaming down his face]: Wise words, O spirits! But please, please answer Kholopho's next question. Can good wooly neanderthal remain good in hideous, horrible, terrible bad Underworld?

Toljin: Um, you can do your best?

Kholopho: Thank you! Oh, thank you, wise spirits! But please, answer poor Kholopho's final question!

Toljin: Yes?

Kholopho: Can Kholopho have some water?

The party gets the sense that Kholopho has latched on to them, and Zinee in particular, and would be perfectly happy to follow them around like a loyal puppy. They send him off towards the flying saucer to speak with the Great Bear Spirit, and  then they scarper.

Zinee gets very self conscious after encountering Kholopho, and nervously asks Greta, "You don't see me as a dog, do you? I'm not like that, am I?" "Oh, no," reassured Greta, not very convincingly.


Ye Dogs of Destiny continued through the tunnel, and came out on the biggest thoroughfare in this part of the Underworld, the Devil's Highway. Hauling the bodies of the decapitantes with them and looking for a good place to dispose of them, they were happy to spot a stone bridge spanning a dry river bed. 

Reaching the bridge, they met an amphibious merchant and her guild-certified guard riding a massive beast of burden called a glutton-newt. Greta tried to sell them the decapitantes as meat, which did not appeal the merchant, being neither a cannibal nor a butcher. "I offer the best in hand-crafted artisanal potions of every stripe! Libations fit for a godling! Balms, unguents, ointments, and salves for every external irritation! Purgatives to restore purity and sanity!”

Greta asked after a potion that would restore her diminished intellect, and was offered the Beverage of the Godlings! This miracle brew grants indomitable strength, genius intellect, divine speed, sage-like wisdom, superhuman robustness, and preternatural personal allure for about 12 minutes. This was not quite what Greta was looking for.

Ulfer, whose face has mutated to look like a hideous baby with piranha teeth, asked for something that would draw out the Chaos energy and restore his appearance. The merchant averred that she was no expert on mammal-faces, and didn't quite get how Ulfer's face differed significantly from his companions, but she had a powder that might help? Caveat emptor, of course. The powder did not mix well with Ulfer's mutation, however. He ended up with long, streaming rainbow hair to go with the baby face. Zinee that they new hair looked great, and tried it herself. Sadly, in made her fur fall out.


The Party accompanied the merchant on the last leg of her journey to the Temple of Null, where she was delivering base ingredients for decpaitante-feeding-fluids and some cosmetics to Mother Futility. After awhile they came upon a large group of dead bodies—the Fort Enterprise expedition that Governor Krofax had sent out a week or so before the PCs. The bodies are freshly dead, their faces contorted in states of utter despair, and streaked with dried blood-tears. A few giant pill bugs put up a fight over the bodies they had been feasting on, but were quickly dealt with. The bodies had already been stripped of anything valuable.

Moving on, the Party arrived at the place they had been trying to reach ever since they heard of it from the dying gasps of the Dread Pirate Goddard: The Temple of Nul. And there, after a long session with a lot of roleplaying and a lot of information gathered, we wrapped up the session.

Next Session

Enter the Temple of Nul! It's a dungeon in the dungeon!


A nice thing about having seven players is that three can be out and you can still run a session. And a nice thing about having only four players at the table is you can spend a lot more time on individual character moments, and make sure everyone has a chance to do something memorable. I was able to leave some crumb-trails which I hope will pay off next session.

Now, I need to prep the Temple (not too tough; it's pretty simple), and re-stat the encounters within. It's one of those dungeons where it'd be very easy to make your way pretty much to the heart of the operation without triggering any combat along the way, but then bringing down the full force of the Temple's forces on your players head at once at the climactic moment. It should be dangerous, and I wouldn't be crushed if a player death occurred. But without some thoughtful planning it could turn into a TPK, which I'd prefer to avoid.


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