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"Explorers of the Fathoms!" - TCfBtS! Actual Play

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  • "Explorers of the Fathoms!" - TCfBtS! Actual Play

    Based on a true story:

    “There’s this new game I’d like to try, everyone. It’s called They Came From Beneath the Sea! They’re making the Kickstarter right now, but I backed it and have access to the text. It’s based on old campy sci-fi movies and lets you fight against all sort of aquatic monsters, from crab people and octopus villains to kaiju and alien eels!”


    “Seems cool, but we already are doing one of your horror games and a fantasy one. Besides, you never make it fair when certain tropes are involved. There’s a reason you can’t run Call of Cthulhu anymore”

    They know. They know I’m on THEIR side. Fhtagn.

    “Wait! This one is different! This one is a comedy!”

    I see curiosity. I pick up my phone and show them the game trailer from the Kickstarter page. That’s what gives me a chance.

    They let me talk, so that I can explain them that yes, the game has plenty of monsters, but it offers tools that lead toward both pulp and campy adventures.That there’s humor all over the place, both dark and more light-hearted. I make a couple of examples, I mention Brendan Fraser, Fallout and Zoidberg.

    After I tell them my plans for a short campaign, just to have a taste of the game, I look at them and ask “So, what do you think?”


    “Can I have a lobster nunchaku?”

    That was the moment I knew things looked promising.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Hello everyone. As the title says, this thread will feature the They Came From Beneath The Sea! Actual Play of the game my players and I are having. It’s the sort of enthusiastic short campaign that can only happen while riding a Kickstarter wave for a new game, but I thought that sharing it around could not hurt.

    As I said, we don’t have plans for a long game. It’s mostly a general run just to see how TCfBtS! plays, have some fun and fill some time between a huge campaign and the other. But depending on how it goes, we’ll think about a longer chronicle in the future.

    Here’s my pitch:

    It’s the year 1955. Captain Jack “Shirley” Murray, former Navy official and oceanographer, has just begun to film his new documentary, “Explorers of the Fathoms!”. Murray is a good man who loves his crew and the sea, a veteran, man of culture and gentleman. He’s also...not right there. Some say it’s because of all the occasions he got wounded and consequent prosthetics, others that all that time spent down below kinda ruined his brain. Then there’s the fact he puts sea water in the coffee and keeps hitting his head around. Basically, he’s what happens when Jacques Cousteau meets Leslie Nielsen and Lloyd Bridges in Hot Shots!

    The players are all members of his crew, for a reason or another, and they all kept the old man safe and their ship, the Amontillado, working. Things are rough lately, with all the hopes of the crew being put upon the success of “Explorers of the Fathoms!” But when the monsters from beneath the sea attack, suddenly it’s a lot harder to finish a documentary. Still, as captain Murray says, it’s their duty to make a good job, now more than ever.

    And that’s it. It’s a pitch that lends itself to a rather linear storyline (to a point: my players are used to have branching plots and that’s how I run things), but the point here is more to have fun and get to know the game, so a trip around the world fighting monsters and dismantling fishy conspiracies works well. As you can guess from the inspirational sources, things might get a little absurd. here and there

    Captain Murray is a GM crutch, not gonna deny it, but he’s not able to care for himself nor alter the events, so it all lies within the player’s hands.


    Now, the most important part: the characters (and their players, which I will talk a little bit here but let slide in the background for future updates).

    Note: We made the characters without Quips for now. It’s alright: for the first session I’ll let players familiarize with the core system and the setting. We’ll add them later once they Kickstarter preview happens. If players want to make the characters and play (and are all available for the session at the first roll call!), I learned it’s a good idea to let them play

    - Clay Spencer:the ship’s mechanic. Everyman, Adventure, cares for his Best Friends. A giant of a man, Clay is surly and easy to anger, but he has a heart of gold, can build or fix everything and punch monsters like its nothing. Clay’s father was a friend of Murray in the Navy and when he died in a “mysterious encounter with an unidentified aquatic threat”, captain Murray pretty much became another father figure for him. All he cares about is the well-being of the crew, has no patience for fools and nuisances and wants to bring back the Amontillado to its former glory. He’s basically Bud Spencer as a mechanic, who is a cult actor not all might know, but we’re a bunch of Italian players so have it covered

    Has Has I Can Fix This, Get Off My Land, The Name Is and Good Old Fashioned Fisticuffs for Trademarks, Occupational Hazard, Picket Line and With My Bare Hands for Tropes.

    Giuseppe is Clay’s player. He’s an experienced roleplayer who tends to make characters that resemble him, often with some kind of mechanical prowess no matter the context. If the story involves a vehicle of some sorts, like a ship, a spaceship or a giant robot, you can bet he’ll claim it as his own, with other having the privilege to use it just because he allows it. He’s also built like brown bear.

    - Dwayne O’Connell. Survivor, Military Brat and Lone Wolf. Dwayne is just a demigod among mortals. Grizzled soldier trained in all sorts of combats, athlete at the peak of the human shape, Dwayne is a charismatic killing machine. If they come from beneath the sea, then Dwayne is the champion of the surface that will stop them. Dwayne is, technically, on the Amontillado as military consultant, but he’s really there to solve any problem that requires brute forse.

    Has Built Like a Brick House, Diamond Hard Emotions, I’m The Juggernaut and Ballistic Expert as Trademarks. I’m Not Dead Yet. Grizzled Veteran and Spotlight for Tropes.

    Luca is Dwayne’s player. Luca has been a player of mine since I started running games, enough time ago that it makes me feel old. He probably qualifies as That One Player. He likes his power fantasies, his big weapons, and loves Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He plays a variation of him every game: he might set out to make an ambassador and still come out with The Rock in a fancy suit. This time things owe a lot to the Baywatch movie. I could not imagine running a game without him, he makes things so much more lively for all of us. Speaking as a Storyteller, I hate him so much.

    - Thea Murray. Scientist, Outdoors Enthusiast, wants to become a Community Leader. Thea is none other than Captain Murray’s granddaughter. She’s a skilled scientist whose fascination towards monsters might eventually cause some problems, but she means well. She supplies for all sorts of the Amontillado’s scientific needs. Thea has vague memories of her parents, but the informations her grandpa gave her are all but reliable. She often considers trying to discover more about them.

    Has A Taste for Danger, Seeing Beauty in Horror, Xenobiologist and See the Way It Holds its Tentacles for Trademarks, Weird Science, Eureka! and Elbow Grease for Tropes

    Thea is Arianna's character. Arianna’s a new player! She has D&D experience, but I never ran a game for her. It’s TCfBtS! humour that piqued her interest this time. She’s also an actual archeologist with plenty of field experience who loves history nods and jokes.


    - William Banner. G-Man, Street Rat and Out For Revenge. William fought in WWII and, once home, became a FBI agent. One bad experience with alien creatures nobody believed to be true made him a pariah, and he was assigned to keep an eye on Murray for vague suspicions of communist sympathies. Now his presence on the Amontillado offers him plenty of occasions to discover the truth about the creatures of the sea and finally have his revenge.

    Has Badge and Gun, Nothing to see here, I Played a Little Ball and Party Crasher for Trademarks, Shadow Conspiracy, Sunglasses and Investigative Reporting for Tropes.

    William is Matteo’s character. Matteo is, along with Luca, one of those who started roleplaying with me back in the day. He often plays the voice of reason, but can become extremely destructive and galvanize the others into acts of violence like its nothing when he feels his character are wronged. He loves geeky movies and has an extensive knowledge of sci-fi and bizarre films. He’s probably the strongest pillar of my usual gaming group.

    - Sandro D’Amato. Mouth coming from a Life of Privilege, wants to Fall In Love. Son of a rich aristocratic family, Sandro wasted fortunes and earned the wrath of his parents. He used to appear in the news until a little ago, famous for his antics and public meltdowns. After a bad night, he woke up as a hostage on a pirate ship and when Captain Murray saved him, he decided to stick around.

    Has You Won’t Forget Me, Sly Wink to the Camera, I Know What You Want and Best Buddy for Trademarks, Catchphrase, Press Pass and Voice of Reason for Tropes.

    Antonio plays as Sandro. Antonio is fairly new to roleplaying, he only was with me during a Starfinder campaign. He still is surprised by how things work and the kind of situations that can happen. It’s cool to see that kind of beginner’s glee. He wanted to play the “rascal that gets better” kind of character, hence Sandro.

    Other than them, there are other NPC members of the crew, but for now that’s all that’s worth to talk about.

    Hope you liked this introduction and will stick around for more! Also, I tried to keep a humorous tone even here, considering the nature of the game. Let me know if it's annoying or if it works.
    Last edited by Cinder; 01-04-2019, 06:34 PM.


    Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub

    I write about Beast: The Primordial a lot

    This is what I'm working on

  • #2
    Superb. Thank you! I look forward to reading more.


    Matthew Dawkins
    In-House Developer for Onyx Path Publishing


    Website: https://www.matthewdawkins.com
    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/matthewdawkins

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    • #3
      Here we are, back from the first session.

      It’s actually what people would call a Session 0: pretty much a slow-paced session in a controlled environment, where the events are not that important to the chronicle as a whole. It allows everyone to familiarize with the core mechanics, mood and themes. Neither filler or prelude, doing a Session 0 is a habit of mine I find really useful. I only do it when someone at the table is new to the game, but it helps. Even more so because I want to start the “real” chronicle with a bang and this allows to us all to know the game just enough to keep a good rhythm for that one.


      A note: when I was writing down the plans for the session, the chapter with the antagonists and aquatic threats had not yet been released to Kickstarter backers. It is, to my humble opinion, The Best Chapter ® (hey, I like lists of awesome baddies), but I had to make do without it. I kept it simple, but I hope you’ll still enjoy my enemies for this time around.

      Also: this is my OOC voice for the thread

      Ok, let’s start:

      Session 0: Fishburg, USA

      It all starts with a low, constant humming. It reverberates through the corridors of the ship. Eventually, it grows louder, enough to wake some members of the crew. William, Thea and Sandro get out of their cabin and with some attention manage to discover that the noise comes from the pipes. It’s getting unnervingly loud and it does not take long for whistling steam to come out of the walls. Captain Murray arrives as well, wearing a pajama and with his trusted Teddy Bear in hand. He starts to chat with the small group, lamenting that his tinnitus (the result of that time a monkey hit him with a coconut during the Guadalcanal Campaign) is truly giving him a hard time today. He’s pleasantly surprised when they inform him that the noise he hears is likely due to a problem with the ship instead.

      The three decide to wake up Clay, the most qualified to solve any technical issue, and Dwayne, because if they can’t sleep then he can neither. It only takes a ten-minutes argument and two threats of having a taste of the Combat System for the group to decide to move and check the Amontillado’s engine room.

      All the instruments in the room are red hot and the valves are fuming. It is, the most perspective ones deduce, not a good situation.The Amontillado is an old ship which was already wounded before all sorts of slimy beings decided to come and visit the surface world. There are cracks on board fixed with tape and glue. Things look grim: the engine will blow up soon.

      But Clay is not the kind of man that would let it go without giving it a try! He valiantly shouts “I can fix this!”, picks up his wrench and tackles the engine. The proud Everyman does his best and manages to limit the size of the explosion, from a catastrophical one that would have sinked the ship into one which, at his judgment, will limit itself to the room where they are. Alas! His skills are not enough to save an intern of the oceanographic institute (one that everyone could swear was not around when they entered the room) from being engulfed from the flames as they run away from the explosion. Farewell, brave intern without a name! Your sacrifice was not needed to buy time for the others to escape, but it’s almost as if someone decided the scene would have looked more dramatic that way.

      Giuseppe rolled well and really wanted to try Directorial Control

      The cast manages to get out almost unscratched, but the engine is destroyed. There’s no choice but to ask for help on the radio and wait for assistance. Luckily, the New England coast is not far: it only takes a few hours for some rescue boats to reach the Amontillado and drag it to the nearest port, a small town called Fleishburg. The crew is not familiar with it, but William remembers from an article about a pieto be a peaceful fishing town, the kind of place of the American province where people work hard, stay safe and leave the door open at night. “Nothing to worry about” he says, knowingly tempting fate. A sinister music plays in the background but only few pay attention to it.

      The Amontillado arrives into port before the dawn. It will take time to repair the engine, perhaps days. Everyone decides to sleep a few more hours and visit the town later that morning: most just want to have a look, but others hope to find pieces to fix the ship or assault weapons, which for some reason they expect to be a common feature of the stores of a placid provincial town.

      When the morning comes, the cast kindly refuses the breakfast that Chuck, the ship’s cook, has prepared for them. Sure, a soup with fish heads, potatoes and bacon is not the exactly kind to the stomach, but Chuck means well. Still, they all decide to head to town to find something to eat and leave the cook to clean the dishes, sad and alone. As they leave the Amontillado, they can’t help but to notice that the sign that says “Welcome to Fleischburg” has been clumsily altered. It now just says “ME FISHBURG”. Dramatic music again, this time more of them are able to hear it but still don’t get an explanation.

      The plans I have for the chronicle probably won’t lead the players to visit another small town like this one, so I exploited it as much as I could. Stereotypical 50s atmosphere and aesthetics, references to all sorts of movies and Mr. Sandman playing as they get into to town. Shameless, but it’s part of the fun.

      It’s a sunny August morning, there are no clouds in the sky and the birds are chirping. As the cast walks into Fishburg, they see neighbours greeting each other, kids playing ball in the fields and the milkman making its deliveries. But Thea and William are inquisitive individuals and look further: there’s also the fact that many people are wearing cumbersome trenchcoats and fedoras even in this heat and that all the town’s fishing boats seems to have been dismantled and left in pieces around the docs. They ask around a little, but all those they speak to don’t see anything wrong with it and also appear to be confused to a degree that it’s a miracle they haven’t hurt themselves already. One tries to hit a nail while grabbing an hammer from the head, another is trapped into a fishing net and it does not seem he will get out soon. They also drool a lot, way more than appropriate for this early in the morning.

      Puzzled but with their stomachs still empty, the group decides to enter a diner nearby, eat something and then investigate further.

      The diner is nice, the typical warm and welcoming place with round stools, friendly customers and milkshakes. Frank Sinatra’s Beyond The Sea is playing on the jukebox. The protagonists all sit down and try to order something, even if the cook seems to be afflicted by the same endemic confusion that plagues the town. William notices, looking over a window into the kitchen, that one of the cooks is no other than Rodrigo, the Amontillado’s sound technician. But here’s wearing an apron, a fancy hat and, worse, he’s drooling on the eggs.

      Before he can warn the others, Dwayne turns to the left and takes a good look at the man that sits close to him. The heavy clothing and cheap cologne can’t hide the fact that the customer is indeed a fishman. With a nice pair a mustache, but still a fishman.

      “Hey!” shouts Dwayne. “I got you! You’re a fishman!”

      The hunched monster puts down the newspaper, turns around and replies “Me? No. You fishman. Me accountant. ”

      “What? No, you are!”

      “No no, you fish, me Howard Johnson”

      “Don’t be silly, I can see your gills!”

      “Impossible. You smell like fish. Not me”

      At this provocation, our hero grabs a knife and attacks the foul creature. Several customers flee, but others remove their clothes and reveal their own true nature as abomination from beneath the sea.

      Fight ensues! William shoots around with his gun while Sandro and Thea have no choice but to grab what they can find around. Clay prefers instead to trust his own strength and, with a smile, announces “I’m gonna punch that fish in the face”

      All manage to deal with their opponents, except for Sandro. The young man seems unable to strike even an unmoving target, which means he’ll have to wait another scene to show his worth. Dwayne and Clay come to his aid, while William runs into the kitchen to check on Rodrigo.

      Antonio got some Rewrite dices here, that’s for sure. He also forgot to use those later, but it’s the thought that counts.

      It is here that he meets a truly terrible foe: a lobster with a gun. This diabolical marksman was waiting for William on the counter and manages to wound him badly. The advantage position allows the crustacean to give plenty of trouble to our heroes before they manage to reach it and throw it into boiling water.

      While some of the protagonists patch up as best as they can, Thea tries to speak with Rodrigo. The poor man’s mind has been manipulated, but she wonders what method was used to obtain such result. It’s Clay that finds an answer in a cupboard: a jar with a brain inside, with Rodrigo’s picture stuck over it.

      Looking further around, Thea and Clay find a strange object, a sort of weird gun. Thea deduces that one can load the weapon with the brain jar and shoot it back into Rodrigo’s brain. It’s a delicate operation that requires medical knowledge to work, with potential dramatic consequences in case of failure. Dwayne grabs it and prepares to shoot but everyone else, aware that the man is a charismatic murder machine who can barely read, stop him before the disaster happens. It’s Thea that solves the issue, handling the brain gun with ease.

      Rodrigo returns normals and immediately warns the group that the fish people also got Captain Murray. Luckily, the man remembers the address where he last saw the Captain before his brain was removed. Our heroes finish their breakfast and head to the place with an amount of determination and rightful rage that can be only described as lacking.

      The base of the enemy operation, the vile den of evil and malice from where the aquatic menace lead its conquest of Fishburg is none other than a nice house in the suburbs, with a nice garden and freshly painted fence. Absolutely revolting.

      Willian knocks on the door while the others wait behind the bushes, weapons in hand. All are a little surprised when it’s Captain Murray himself that comes to open. The old man is wears a cardigan and smokes a pipe. He recognizes William and, when the rest of the group comes out from their hiding spots, he invites them in.

      Once inside, Murray introduces them to a woman, Mary Lou, which apparently is his wife. They all have to endure small talk, tea and pie. Mary Lou seems normal, at least for the standards of Fishburg. Dwayne wants to hit her with a tray before she can do anything wrong, but his companions make him notice that she also shows sign of brain manipulation.

      The married couple denies any knowledge of something wrong going on in their house. It’s just them, their dog and their little boy Billy.

      Billy is nowhere to be seen, though, and the dog is just a large sea slug. It’s here that the protagonists take a defensive stance. They decide to investigate Billy’s room, which seems as normal as it can be. There are toys, a large, empty aquarium, eight baseball bats and eight gloves. Some start to suspect Billy’s true nature. It’s here that the heroes find a key to the basement, just before the dramatic music plays yet again.

      The basement is dark, but it’s empty. Sandro goes in first, eager to redeem himself. He manages to find the light switch, which reveals the terrible secret of the house.

      There are lots of posters, pins and banners around. They show sea creature dressed as people, going around as if it’s normal. One of the posters has Uncle Sam, except now he’s a large anthropomorphic tuna. All this material show the same acronym: S.P.L.A.S.H., Superior Piscine League for American Society Hybridization.

      “So, you have discovered my secret lair” says a voice in the head of the group. A wet noise from the top of the stairs draws closer. The heroes prepare to fight and are not that surprised to see an octopus with an airscrew hat coming down into the basement. The creature speaks directly into their minds. “I am Pnhgl’Bggl’Blogblog, leader of this operation and conqueror of the dry land. But you can call me...BILLY”

      “What is you plan, Billy?” asks Clay.

      “Oh, it is very simple. We members of S.P.L.A.S.H. think that the Americans have truly got something right around here. We like their music, the way they talk and the way they live. We love milkshakes. It’s the humans we can’t stand. So we decided to come and take it all, enslave as much of you as we can and become the only owners of the True American Way, as it is right to be”

      Yes, there’s also a Russian counterpart to S.P.L.A.S.H.: the S.C.A.L.E, Soviet Communist Aquatic Leadership Endeavor

      “And now, daddy-o...” says Billy while removing his hat and showing the impressive pompadour cut under it “...prepare to die”.
      Billy immediately jumps on Clays head and wraps around hit, using telekinesis to throw stuff around and hurt the others. Clays succumbs to the mental powers of the cephalopod and can’t help but attack the others for several shots. The rest of the group can only try to hit Billy without hurting their friend, except for Dwayne that just shoots.

      Giuseppe and Luca have a complicated relationship.


      Eventually, the heroes manage to weaken Billy enough to force its grab open.

      “Curse you, dry monkeys...you have forced me to use my ultimate weapon!” Cue dramatic music, worried looks, tension growing and...an octopus trying to put on eight roller skates.

      Billy is having lots of trouble doing that. Everyone wonders if they should kill it before it can finish. William, sure that it’s physically impossible for it to end well, says “No, let it do it”

      And so, Billy the octopus manages to do it, with only a little help from his powers. Too bad roller skates are not made for cephalopods and each of its attempts to move lead to a pathetic failure.

      The group just decide they had enough. “Wait!” screams Billy, but it’s useless: Dwayne lifts a table and squashes the aquatic menace.

      I hoped the players would have found Billy too sad and let it live. I had plans to make it return while riding an headless body and scream “MIND BLAST!” at them before using a shotgun. Alas.


      In a cabinet, Sandro finds lots of jars: the rest of the brains of the local population. Captain Murray’s is nowhere to be found, but it takes little to discover that nobody touched it. “Sorry fellas, my memory is not what it used to be. They told me Mary Lou was my wife and I just figured I had forgotten to have one. Little Billy was a little odd, but I have uglier relatives on my father’s side”

      And so, having saved the town and reclaimed the American lifestyle for its rightful owners, our heroes return to the Amontillado, ready to sail again and reach the International Oceanographic Fair on the other side of the ocean.

      End of session! I’d love to hear your opinions about it. We had lots of fun with it, even if the plot for this one was rather simple.
      Last edited by Cinder; 01-17-2019, 05:12 PM.


      Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub

      I write about Beast: The Primordial a lot

      This is what I'm working on

      Comment


      • #4
        The idea of everyone waiting dumbfounded while Billy tries to put on roller skates is hilarious. You have gained another subscriber to your thread, good person.


        A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post
          The idea of everyone waiting dumbfounded while Billy tries to put on roller skates is hilarious. You have gained another subscriber to your thread, good person.
          Hey thanks! I'm glad someone finds these entertaining. We laughed like idiots at the table, but I'm happy it also gets across in written form.
          Last edited by Cinder; 01-15-2019, 12:20 PM.


          Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub

          I write about Beast: The Primordial a lot

          This is what I'm working on

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm enjoying it a great deal


            Matthew Dawkins
            In-House Developer for Onyx Path Publishing


            Website: https://www.matthewdawkins.com
            Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/matthewdawkins

            Comment


            • #7
              Finally got a chance to read through. And I am fully on board. Keep em coming!

              Can't wait to run my own game.


              (he/him/his)


              Backer #2010

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ElvesofZion View Post
                Finally got a chance to read through. And I am fully on board. Keep em coming!

                Can't wait to run my own game.
                Thank you! This week's session does not look safe (I go by the "more than half of the players missing means no session" rule), but I'll keep writing these even after the Kickstarter ends. The chronicle is kinda short to begin with, so it's not an issue for me.

                The game's great! We still have to familiarize with some rules, but if you happen to have a group of movie geeks to play with you're set for something hilarious no matter what.


                Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub

                I write about Beast: The Primordial a lot

                This is what I'm working on

                Comment


                • #9
                  Update: we moved the session tonight so those with real commitments would be there and tormented the other one into coming anyways. I had to rush a couple of things, but we're playing. I'll write about it in the weekend

                  Last edited by Cinder; 01-17-2019, 04:23 PM.


                  Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub

                  I write about Beast: The Primordial a lot

                  This is what I'm working on

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Session was in danger this time. Antonio and Arianna are reliable and eager to play, but they’re a couple and if one is busy, odds are the other will be with them. Luca, on the other hand, is a slippery one (another reason to hate him like only a GM can do) and tried to squirm away when he heard they probably would not come. But then we managed to shift the game one day earlier to have the two and basically shamed Luca into playing. Hey, the Storyteller’s job is a cruel one.

                    New session then! This time, we start for real


                    Session 1: Uninvited Guests

                    After the pilot of last week, the show was picked up for serialization. With a better budget and more booze for those in the writer’s room, our story begins in Genoa, an Italian city on the coasts of the Mediterranean. Genoa is an old port town with a proud maritime tradition. It’s the town of Christopher Columbus, explorer, liar and kidnapper extraordinaire. Not a coincidence that this year’s International Oceanographic Fair happens here. It’s the sort of event that draws attention on a side of the world that usually does not get the spotlight: dozens and dozens of ships from all over the world are in town, each with its own crew and story to tell, joined by academics, scientists, sea lovers and sailing aficionados.

                    I chose Genoa as starting point for two reasons. First, we all live in the nearby area, so it’s easy to make the players feel the events. Second, this game takes a lot of inspiration from one of my favorite movies, “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”, which also starts in Italy.

                    The Amontillado is here too and, with it, our cast. They’re all waiting in the backstage of a vast theater the Adventurers Lodge has prepared for one of the main events of the Fair: a chance for its members to show their achievements to a selected public. This being a formal occasion, the protagonists are all wearing Captain Murray’s crew iconic red beanie, except for William, who technically is not part of the team, and Dwayne, who refused to do so. As for the rest of their outfit, they pretty much wear whatever they want. They’re all waiting for Captain Murray’s turn to go on stage and show his latest documentary, “The Humid World”.

                    Following a enthusiastic applause, Captain Remy Mirabelle and his crew leave the stage. Mirabelle is Murray’s arch-nemesis: he always makes fun of the old man and humiliates him at every occasion, even if Murray does not seem to mind much. His underlings all wear an expensive white uniform with blue sleeves and golden details. They are disciplined, groomed and professional.

                    The players (and their characters) hate them immediately.

                    Dwayne wants to headbutt one that comes too close, but stops when he realizes it would be a social misstep. Sandro, though, steals the pocket watch of the first mate as he passes.


                    While Murray proceeds on stage, some can’t help but to notice a worried look on Dieter’s face. Dieter is the documentary editor of the Amontillado and the one that helped Murray put “The Humid World” together in its final shape.

                    “What’s up, Dieter? Worried about the movie?” asks Clays, puzzled because he knows they had good material.

                    Dieter sighs and replies: “Truth is, I haven’t laid a finger on it for the last month. The Captain did not let me even look at the footage, he insisted everything was fine”. This sends a chill downs everyone’s spine.


                    Meanwhile, on stage, “The Humid World” begins, and its first forty-five minutes are one extended shot of Captain Murray playing with a rubber duck and a toy ship in his bathtub. By the end of the scene, the bubbles in the tub are dangerously few . Other scenes are not better.


                    A few hours later, after being laughed at and humiliated, Captain Murray sits alone on an armchair in an empty room of the Adventurer’s Lodge, a few floors above the theater, right in from of a painting of him in his glory days. The protagonist manage to avoid the crowd and check on him.

                    The Captain is not at his best. He smiles at the group and reaches for Thea, his beloved granddaughter. “I think I messed it up”.

                    To their credit, all are sympathetic and don’t say anything that makes the situation worse.

                    “I’d like to go now. Prepare the Amontillado, please: we’re leaving sooner than planned. I don’t think they’ll miss us around here”

                    The group agress. The Fair might have just started, but there’s no need to stick around. They leave and head to the docs. By asking around about the current situation, they also discover that Captain Mirabelle has gloated over Murray’s shenanigans, but he also will announced he will leave Genoa that very same day.

                    They all wander through Genoa’s narrow roads a little, argue with a couple of locals and, after they manage to get the attention of the guard that stands at the gate, arrive at the Amontillado.

                    It’s not easy to explain to those not familiar what the deal with Genoa and the nearby region is. Long story short, we’re Italy's grumpy region, easily bothered and always complaining. That Simpsons joke about Scots and the fact they can’t stand others can be reworked for us easily.

                    The heroes immediately notice something is wrong. There’s people on the ship, but they’re all weirdos wearing strange unfamiliar black swimsuit. They’re carry boxes and wires around and act like they own the place. When questioned, they drop everything and take cover, while shooting at the group with weird guns that use highly-pressurized water as ammunition. It does not take much to end the conflict but, by that point, a number of them jumped overboard and swam away at impossible speed.

                    Clay and William decide to check what these people were doing and follow the wires to the lower deck. The rest of the crew is tied up in the kitchen. Eventually, they find a series of explosives planted all over the Amontillado. They immediately try to disarm them.

                    Meanwhile, Sandro, Thea and Dwayne are investigating above. Dwayne has already hoarded several water rifles. They’re made to be used by humans, but Thea quickly deduces the technology behind them is too advanced. While they clean the mess, a couple of men in military suit run onboard and order the cast to follow them.

                    “You’re under arrest! Leave the ship now!”

                    It’s not clear what they accuse the protagonist of. What is clear is that one is wearing a French uniform while the other wears an Italian one, that they seem unable to walk straight and that they open and close their gloved hands as if they’re pincers. Sandro and Thea quietly inform Dwayne of these details, who then approaches one of the men.


                    “Get. Off. My. Ship.” he says, before he Spartan kicks the man down the Amontillado. He morphs into a crab man as he falls, but even in its true form, the awesomeness of the kick was too much to endure. He’s dead before touching the water, both terrified and glad to have witnessed such greatness.

                    I’d say Luca rolled well enough to justify an instant death for dramatic purposes, though it’s easy to do so when your character is built with the only goal of kicking ass.

                    Dwayne next turns to the other, lifts an eyebrow and says “You’re Next”. The crab man is so terrified it can’t do anything. Unable to defend or attack, the group has little trouble to take care of it.

                    William and Clay come out the ship with lots of apple-red sticks of dynamite on their shoulders. Soon after, the other ships in the port explode all together at the same time, with the only exception of a single one that’s sailing for the open sea. A quick look with the binoculars reveal it’s the Delphinus, Captain Mirabelle’s ship.

                    They all look at each other and agree they need to go get Captain Murray. Thea stops poking the dead crab man with a stick, Dwayne accepts that all the water rifles have the same damage stats, Clay picks up a bag with lots of ropes and tools, William orders the other to defend the Amontillado and Sandro carefully combs his hair. Ready to go, they steal a nearby jeep and hit the pedal.

                    I frantically searched for a cool theme for the scene, but I needed to be quick and so just went for Indiana Jones’ theme.

                    The heroes reach the Adventurers Lodge building. A small army of weirdos and crab people took over the place, but the protagonists manage to get in from a secondary entrance. When they get to the theater, hiding in the shadows, they see hundreds of hostages in there. Humans and crab people patrol the perimeter.

                    A high-pitched voice from nowhere proclaims: “Foolish hooomans, it is in this arrogant celebration of your mastery over the seas that us, the real masters of the ocean will teach us what your place in the world really is.”

                    The screen lights up, where a transmission shows a huge creature, a colossal crustacean creature made by thousands of smaller crabs and lobsters, emerge from the sea and immediately and destroy the Lantern lighthouse, Genoa’s most famous landmark, because of course it does.

                    I love Kaiju movies.

                    “We call it Crabbington. We’ll have it turn your town into its playground while we enjoy the show. Have fun”

                    The group decides to rush to the upper floor and, after some brief skirmishes, reach the Adventurer’s Lodge. Captain Murray is there and attacking crab people with a 16th century globe. They all help him finish the job.

                    “Thanks everyone. I noticed something was amiss and hit one of these vile things with all my strength. It’s over there, knocked out. Then, twenty minutes later, the others came in. Gotta say, they were a lot tougher!”

                    William checks on the unconscious “crab person”, which is, no doubt, only an ordinary man with clear signs of head trauma. In his pocket, a letter mentions he was going to retire in only a few days and enjoy the life, away from troubles. William hopes for the best and covers him with a rug.

                    Crabbington is on a rampage outside, a group of hostile crab people and their allies took over the building and our protagonists have to escape. Most prepare to fight for a way outside the place, but Clay has another idea: he wants to use his ropes, a couch and rudimentary pulleys made with the stuff he finds around to slide into the nearby palace. It is close enough for the idea to be plausible. If it works, it will be safer for everyone and will avoid to fight with Captain Murray around.

                    Some are dubious but the “platform” Clays build seems solid. Dwayne groans, but then takes the rope and jumps across the road. He fixes the rope and then the other proceed with the plan. After a few moments of panic, all is good.

                    I expected Die Hard and got The Shadow Over Innsmouth mixed with Home Alone instead. RPGs are weird.

                    The team reaches the Amontillado again. The situation is chaotic to say the least, but they try to make a clear picture of it. The hostile forces from beneath the sea destroyed all the ships except the Amontillado (and the Delphinus, which left before the explosions), even though they have a giant monster on their side. Something is amiss.

                    Sandro, of all people, asks if there’s a way to track down the transmission that reached the theater and, with some help from the Amontillado’s instruments, it is possible indeed.

                    The signal comes from a nearby source, probably a vehicle submerged just under the surface outside the port. The group wonders if those behind the attack bombed all the ships as a way to hide this sort of submarine.


                    Sometimes you wave a clue in front of players and they go for other stuff, but it’s always cool when they get subtler hooks.

                    The heroes have now two options: they can either try and fight back the invaders on land or try and reach this mysterious ship. With the hope that a direct intervention of their will be more useful than a guerrilla around the town, they opt for the latter.

                    I’m not exactly a fan of linear story progression and neither are my players. At the same time, they also prefer to have clear choices about what to do. It takes a delicate balance and sometimes they just don’t unlock potential story branches, but I usually come up with several options and let them decide what to pick (though I still have to improvise from time to time), as all GM have to). It always means there are scenes I prepared that will never be used and cut, but who cares. Same general result, different ways to get there.

                    The problem is Crabbington. The Amontillado is hidden among fire and wreckages right now, but the beast would probably destroy without effort should the ship try to sail. At the very least, it would suffer remarkable damage.

                    The protagonists opt to find a smaller boat, one that would allow them to reach their destination while drawing less attention. They ask around: the local fisherman and sailors are unfazed by what’s going around and prefer to smoke, talk about football and complain about all these unwelcome visitors and the mess they’re making. Only the promise of preposterous amounts of money would convince them to move; money that our heroes don’t have.

                    The only one that listens to them is an old sailor Mimmo, who speaks in an indecipherable southern dialect, mutters words nobody can understand and just shrugs at the idea of the danger he might face. They all jump on his microscopic boat and leave the docks. Mimmo rows so fast that they move as fast as a speedboat.

                    If I can indulge in a change of tone for a second, Mimmo is an affectionate parody of my late grandfather, who had the same name. He was an immigrant from southern Italy who rarely spoke, but he taught me about fishing and sailing while also always being there for me when needed. He died not too long ago and I miss him a lot. My players don’t know about this, but I still enjoyed including him.

                    Eventually, the protagonist reach what’s clearly an alien vehicle of some sort. It’s camouflaged, but out in the surface, enough for a glowing antenna to stick out of it. They all jump over the cold metal, look around for a hatch and get in, eager to find some explanation behind the attack and hopefully defeat the foul invaders.


                    And with that, the session ends. It seemed like a good moment to finish the episode, on a typical cliffhanger. This session was a little less comedic, but I had to introduce situations and conflicts and that took over the scene. I hope that's not a disappointment: I promise there’s more to expect on that side in future ones. As always, feel free to let me know your opinions!

                    Edit: No session next week though: I'm doing night shifts. Sorry!
                    Last edited by Cinder; 01-20-2019, 06:07 PM.


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                    • #11
                      Fantastic stuff!


                      Matthew Dawkins
                      In-House Developer for Onyx Path Publishing


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by The Gentleman Gamer View Post
                        Fantastic stuff!
                        Thanks! I hope we've made justice to the game so far. For what matters, I can already tell this short chronicle is one my group will remember fondly.


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                        • #13
                          I totally thought about The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou while reading your recap of the pilot; so, quite on point with one of your inspirations!


                          (he/him/his)


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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ElvesofZion View Post
                            I totally thought about The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou while reading your recap of the pilot; so, quite on point with one of your inspirations!
                            Honestly, I do take this as a major compliment. Thanks!


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                            • #15
                              After a week of pause because those idiots of the network changed the time slot, our show returns where we left it: right inside the invader’s ship. Who exactly are they? Aliens? Hostile lifeforms from the depths of the ocean? Aggressive real estate owners? And, perhaps more important, it’s from here they coordinate the attack? The answers to that and even more in today’s episode!

                              Session 2: Into the Sea Rabbit Hole

                              The cast climbs down a ladder and find themselves inside the ship’s corridors. The light is a bit dim, with many small lights aligned on the bright blue walls. White signs decorate the floor with geometric patterns, while bright yellow glyphs can be found at each corner. It‘s pretty much like the interior of a giant aquarium, minus treasure chest and scuba diver. Oceanic rumors and the sound of whale singing come out of speaker, as if someone put one of those “Relax with the Whales” CDs on loop.


                              The group managed to get in without being spotted but can’t afford to stay in the open for too long. The hatch clearly led them into a central area, since they find themselves in the middle of a four-directions crossroads.

                              “We could try and kill five crabmen” says Clay.

                              “To what end?” ask the others.


                              “We carve their corpses and wear them to walk around in disguise” he concludes, while murmurs of approval fill the hallway.

                              RPGs players are the thought-form of bloodthirsty horrors from beyond the Veil and the duty of all GMs around the world is to provide them with fantasies that keep them sated and satisfied enough to not bring the abominations that spawned them in our dimension

                              After they consider the idea for a while, the noble heroes decide to opt for a more subtle solution.


                              This is Thea’s first direct contact with an inhuman environment while not getting shot at, but she has a scientific interest towards the invaders and enough brain, skills and attitude to try and decipher the glyphs. She fails, it goes without saying.

                              Just as she notices a consolatory cart with dirty clothes near a chute, Dwayne decides to give it a try. He lacks the knowledge, any sort of frame of reference and there’s no reason in the world he would want to understand the language. He succeeds, it goes without saying.

                              Dice are always a thing Luca has an history of this. Give him all sorts of penalties, an absurd situation, the worst possible odds and he’ll cut through them all. A dice pool of two and he gets four successes, enough for the Difficulty 4 roll.

                              Dwayne, Poseidon knows how, can confirm that one of the glyphs leads to a laundry room. Without a disguise, the group decides to use the chute to go there. The chute is not locked, because it would make no sense since it needs to get used for the laundry, except Clay insists it is. On a closer look, there’s a grid over it, which Clays proceeds to shoot open.

                              Players who want to reenact Star Wars scenes do not care about wasting Rewrite pools.

                              Down the chute, into a pile of dirty clothes. In the back of the laundry room there are several small crabs that fold socks and underwears, but no guards. The protagonists walk in, someone kicks a crab away, and look around. No crustacean armors to wear, but there are several uniforms like the ones used by the human invaders. Black, sleek and adherent: the perfect choice for sea-themed minions. After a quick change of clothes, they’re ready to go. They get out the main door as if nothing happened.


                              The cast roams a little, trying to avoid attention. They pass nearby some crabmen, who in here don’t pretend to be human, and it seems like the disguise works. Sandro considers to ask them for directions, but the other suggest him to look for ordinary people. Two nearby henchmen seem like a good chance for that.

                              “Oh hello there.” says one of them. They then stick their arms to their sides, move their head back and forth and make a weird sound, sorta like that of dolphins. Some deduce this is some sort of greeting for the weirdos and imitate them. William and Clay do not bother, Dwayne does not get it.

                              “Did you get on board at Gibraltar? We’re here since the Snowball Bravo base, but still have to meet some of the people who got in at the last stop. Crazy week, right?”

                              A choir of “...yeaaaaaah” follows.

                              “Where is the Snowball Bravo base? asks Clays without thinking.

                              A look of suspicion appears on the face of the two. “Wait, you don’t know? How is that possible?”

                              Everyone hates Clay right now. He tries to come up with an excuse. “I know of course...it’s just that I wanted to make sure we all knew because I could swear you were with us at Gibraltar. It’s weak, very weak. So weak that the writers are not sure how they can possibly write the heroes out of this mess.

                              Cut! Missing scene. Jump right to when the group has managed to break the ice with the two, right as they enter the canteen.

                              ...and with that, the Rewrite pool is empty.

                              Turns out the two, Tom & Tina, are a couple and this mission is their honeymoon. Everyone has a tray in front of them, filled with krill, small fish and algae. Most avoid eating, except for Clay”

                              “So, instead of going to Pasadena as we originally planned, we thought: why not take the best of both worlds and ask the F.I.S.H. to send us something nice. Right, honeybun?”

                              “Absolutely, sugar bowl. They talk us about this operation and we had always wanted to see Italy, so here we are.

                              “Oh, that’s a wonderful story” says William.

                              “So romantic” adds Thea.

                              “Right, about F.I.S.H....” asks William, unsure about the nature of the group “...you think it’s us who lead the show here or the crab people?”

                              “Oh no, the crabs are not here on their own. They are...controlled.” replies Tom.

                              “By who?”

                              Tom is a little uneasy. “I’m not sure I should talk about this. It’s above our level”. It takes some chat and reassurances to convince him. “Look, we all know the leaders work with someone from the depths, right? The cause and all. Well…” he says while leaning closer “I think one of them is here on the ship. I think this operation really is that important. I saw this dude and, he was in a complete suit and all, but I could tell he was not human. I mean, he had a fin and a blowhole, so I deduced it.”

                              “Mmmmm Tom, you’re a real detective”. says Dwayne.

                              “Thank you! Well, to answer your questions, I think it’s him who pulls the string and controls the crabs. All of them, including the big one outside. But you know, above our clearance.”

                              “And where does he work? He can’t wander around if it’s so noticeable.” asks Sandro.

                              Tina makes a gesture over a big hallway on the other side of the room “I guess he’s over there in the command center most of time, especially right now”. Everyone nods and gets up. They say goodbye to the lovely couple of collaborateurs and head towards the command center.


                              The door is guarded by two human guards, but with a bit of distraction and heavy impact on the base of their skull, they’re easily dispatched. The real opposition must be inside.

                              But the door is locked by some sort of diabolical lock. Several pictures of marine life are arranged in circle, with a crude iron arrow in the middle of the whole machinery. A single red button under it shines eerily. Worried but still brave, William pushes the button.

                              “The dolphin makes *dolphin noises*” goes the nefarious contraption.

                              Puzzled, they try again and again.

                              “The whale makes *really loud whale cry*”

                              “The seal makes *that noise seal do*”

                              I’m willing to admit I actually made the noises. I just can’t come up with the proper onomatopoeia to write here.

                              Nothing. The door is still closed. Sandro, looking around, unsure about his own geniality, tries to imitate the last sound. Lo and behold, the path is now open.

                              Inside, there’s a circular room with some windows that give on sea outside. Lots of people take care of instruments and detectors but at the center of the room, there’s a wide open space. Inside it, a dolphin in a top hat and with a cane in one of his fins is dancing. Above him, clearly shown by the giant screen that illuminates the room, Crabbington follows the dolphin’s movement with perfect accuracy. The dolphin is making the giant monster dance over Genoa on a rather catchy tune.

                              Just so you know, to sing Frankenstein Junior’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz” with a dolphin-like voice is gonna hurt your throat. I learned the damn song to make players get the reference without using music (I wanted for it to look amateurish) and we all laughed for five minutes, so it was worth it. But yes, it hurts and is as cringeworthy as it sounds.

                              The heroes think about a stealth approach, but the sight of Genoa being destroyed convinces them they need to act fast. Luckily Clay, always the compulsive hoarder, has saved some dynamite sticks from before.

                              I love Wile E. Coyote, but I still prayed for everyone to not fail their rolls to throw the dynamite.

                              Things escalate fast. There are explosions, Wilhelm’s scream and water starts to pour in. The casts jumps in and starts to shoot.

                              “Damn hooomans!” screams the dolphin. He’s the one who declared war to the world earlier that day.

                              It does not take long for the protagonists to clear the room, after which Clay and Dwayne happily proceed in a show of violence against dolphin that’s frankly worthy of Greenpeace’s wrath

                              The “boss fight” was meant to be tough, and the survivors still managed to put up a fight and wound some players quite badly, but there’s no denying the dynamite softened the threat.

                              Without the dolphin dancing, Crabbington has gone on a rampage Thea, eager to prove herself after her failure from before, checks on the mind control device: the top hat itself. She figures that it’s connected to the antenna over the ship and it requires the user to dance and sing in order to use it. There are probably ways to shut down the whole engine, but they figure they can control Crabbington and make it destroy the antenna.

                              Sandro feels his moment has come. He steps in, starts to sing “Initial D” songs and makes the monster drift and dab.

                              Antonio is the meme master of the group.

                              Once the antenna is ripped apart, Crabbington stop, as if it returned to itse sense. It moves the head around, scratches it and starts to leave.


                              The group heads back to an exit, helped by all those who try to escape the sinking ship and the enraged crab people, now free from the mind control. There’s no way to stop anyone, both human and crustaceans, but Amontillado is approaching. The heroes hop on board and are greeted by Captain Murray. He looks excited.

                              “What’s going on, Captain?” they ask.

                              Murray smiles. “My beloved crew, look at that” He indicates Crabbington, who has now reached the ship on its path towards open sea. It looks at the Amontillado for a while, like a kid would look at a snow globe. The monster then lifts the ship into the sky. While everyone holds tight, Captain Murray waves an hand at the giant crab monster who then, as absurd as it seems, closes its many eyes with glee and laughs. It then puts the Amontillado back into place and leaves.

                              “You saw it? You saw how beautiful that was? It, the creatures we saw today, truly are unknown wonders from beneath the sea. We know so little about them, which gives me an idea: our next documentary will be about them. We will travel the seven seas so we can show the world the spectacular side of what many consider a menace. I also have a title in mind for it: Explorers of the Fathoms! These are truly good news, everyone!”

                              Everyone, in response, groans. Fade to black.


                              And this was the end of our first arc. There are some paths to explore, a couple of trails to follow and others that are ready to get dropped on the players, but you’ll see how that will develop in the next session. We had some time to discuss which path they want to go for first, so I can make plans, but that's a bit too much OOC talk. For now, this was our first real They Came from Beneath the Sea! story.
                              Last edited by Cinder; 02-03-2019, 09:46 PM.


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