Sorry about that. Had to take a swig to wet the warblemeat.
Where was I?
Ah yes… I was falling…
…until Leve took a chance and took his foot back. The floor snapped shut, and Leve had timed it so that the beam ports only flickered open, then shut again as I hit the floor. Apparently, the trigger zone of the trap didn’t extend for the entire length of the trap. I was alive, but my underthings were a lot less tidy.
I clung to the wall again, and Leve tested the trigger zone to see how far along the floor it went. A challenging jump… for someone who isn’t me. I sailed over with little effort. Leve made the first jump on his end with no difficulty, but he misjudged the distance of the second jump. The floor opened, and he just barely grabbed the ledge with his fingertips. Hawmett and I dove to the edge of the pit just in time to catch Leve’s arms as he lost his grip. Once we were all safe on the other side of the trap, we took a deep breath, smiled, and carried on into the black.
Ben had the Jumping skill, the difficulty 5 (challenging) jump was reduced to 4 (difficult). He rolled an 18, and got past the trigger zone with ease. Leve’s player rolled a 17, then a 16 to get past the trap triggers. I was actually surprised that he didn’t spend effort on one or both of the jumps, against advice from the other players. I used an intervention to make the situation more interesting on the second jump, and Leve’s player gave Ben’s player the second XP. Leve succeeded in clearing the distance, but I complicated things by saying he only got far enough to grab the ledge with his fingertips. His compatriots had to succeed on a 2 (standard) Speed task to get to their friend before he fell, which they did.
It wasn’t long until the hallway opened into a cavernous room. It was large enough that our torch’s light couldn’t illuminate to the ceiling, or distant walls. I took a glow globe out of my pack, and rolled it as far as I could. The floor had no obstructions to impede its progress, so when it hit the gargantuan three-hoofed, tentacled giant, we all gasped in fear and almost ran the other way, but we realized quickly that it didn’t move… just a statue. We made our way toward the colossal effigy, and about halfway there we noticed that the scuttling noises weren’t intermittent anymore. They were constant, and getting closer. Fast.
Things skittered into the torchlight from the blackness. Perhaps mechanical, as the exoskeleton gave a telltale glint of metal. There was a disturbingly organic nature to the way they moved, however, that made the wrongness of the jittery, scratching skitter of their gait even more unnerving, and the alien way the vaguely arachnoid joints legs bent made our flesh want to crawl free from our bones. Our breath caught in our throats, and tears of terror blurred our vision as two billion years of evolved instinct screamed, “RUN!!!”
Running proved not to be an option. They were coming at us from all sides, and they were a lot quicker than us. It was fight, or die.
Leve powered up and blasted the first with an esoteric wave that he calls “Onslaught”, throwing it back. At that moment, all of the creatures appeared to change direction and vector straight toward him. Hawmett took a mighty swing at the first to reach us, smashing it to the side with his sword. We heard the clang of metal-on-metal, but also the splatter of blood and viscera. The three that made it past Hawmett leapt at Leve. Leve managed to dodge two of them, but one latched on to him, so I bashed it off of him with my mace. As it came free, it tore off chunks of Leve’s flesh and clothing.
Leve blasted one before it could set itself to jump again, taking off a couple of its legs and denting its body. Hawmett crumpled the one he was fighting with a powerful blow, spraying its pseudo-organic juice and innards in an arc. The two wounded Skitterclaws (as I called them afterward in my research notes) missed Leve, but the third, undamaged one latched on. I swung, but Leve was thrashing around, screaming, panicked, so I missed my mark.
The Skitterclaw that was latched on to Leve tried to sting him with some kind of proboscis. It made it through his esoteric ward, but not all the way to his skin. The proboscis then ejaculated a fluid filled with squirming larvae all over the front of Leve’s shirt. Screaming with disgust and terror, Leve managed to blast it, sending it spinning through the air, ripping off more chunks of skin. Hawmett, brutal and efficient, cleaved it in half in midair, spraying sickly, yellowish gore everywhere. I smashed the one I’d hit before, crushing it, and then the three of us made short work of the last one. Leve and I were wide-eyed and half mad with fear, yet shuddering in relief. Hawmett, shaken, but in better shape than Leve and I, wiped off his sword and said, ”We need to keep moving chums. I think the hallway we came though just collapsed.”
To be continued…
The preceding battle was with a group of four Skitterclaws (stats below). The players succeeded a difficult check against fear, then combat went pretty straightforward, with the players rolling exceptionally well most times, and using experience to re-roll when necessary. Since this was a one-shot, they were liberal with its use. In future, I’m going to separate the two types of experience into two types: Session, which are gained through intervention and spent on rerolls, cancelling interventions, and whatnot; and Story, which are given after the session to be used for character advancement.
Designing creatures for Numenera is easier than in any other system I’ve ever played. You decide on a level for that creature, and that gives you a base number of hit points and how difficult it is to hit. Decide how hard the creature hits, if it has any cool abilities, how it behaves in combat, and what it’s primary motivation in life is, and presto! Instant creature. The system is so simple that you can even do it on the fly with very little effort. Again, a boon for GMs who like to improvise.
Skitterclaws are a twisted creation of biomechanics that resemble giant, metallic, daddy long legs spiders that have too many legs that growing out of all the wrong places. Even more disturbing is the face, frozen in a rictus of pain and terror, on its thorax. They move with a jittery, unnatural, skittering motion, and their legs bend at unnatural angles. The wrongness of their movement is so disturbing to witness that it triggers phobia-like behaviour. This gets the victim to turn its back to run, which proves futile against this lightning fast abomination. The Skitterclaw can then latch itself onto the unprotected back of its quarry, and inject its larvae into it. The moment the host dies, fleshy Skitterclaw nymphs with faces resembling the victim’s, erupt from the host body and disperse into the wild.
Environment: Anywhere, but mostly in ruins specific to one specific prior civilization in particular.
Damage: Fear – Difficult check to resist, or flee at best speed away from the Skitterclaw for 3 rounds. Latch (none, but 2 damage if ripped off)
Inject (automatic if latched, challenging might roll once per day to fight off impregnated parasites which do 2 un-healable damage per day. The difficulty can be reduced by 2 levels if a medicine is created with the blood of the Skitterclaw that injected the victim. When the character dies, their body erupts tiny, disgusting, naked Skitterclaws, which scurry away into basements, caves, forests, and other dark places to feed, and grow…)
Combat: Skitterclaws move into their victim’s line of sight, moving in a way that causes fear in their quarry. They then move into melee as fast as possible, and attempt to latch onto a target. If they are latched on, they inject their target automatically without a roll, then scurry off to hide, and replenish their genetic material.