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Guttershine Beer Run, Part the Sixth

This entry is part 15 of 15 in the series Adventures in Bastion

When we last left off… the group had fought their way out of the Warehouse with a hard-won barrel of beer, only to discover South Guttershine overrun by small mechanical scorpions in a frenzy of self-replication (and tearing apart anything available for construction materials)—white-furred flying lizards had been released into the city through a portal inside the Warehouse, and one of them had snatched up Rampling Haddleshack and borne him off into the night—Heihachi had plunged through the portal momentarily, and returned with a nasty infection that was causing yellow gunk to drip from his eyes—the characters arrived at the Grand Amphitheater to find that nobody was there to meet them—they debated what to do…  

I suggested that the players could discuss their plan in the time before the next session, but… it didn’t happen, so what followed was all a bit fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants. Which is fine: Electric Bastionland is light enough that improvising doesn’t feel as daunting as it might with some other, more demanding systems.  

Heihachi and Emmeline discussed what to do, and after briefly debating whether to leave the barrel outside the Amphitheater with a note to Winslee, realized the barrel would be taken apart and turned into scorpion parts long before Winslee would ever see it. Finally, they decided to flee campus with the barrel—their one serious achievement in a long time—still in the cart. They were spurred to move when, somewhere off to the northwest (and not too terribly far away, perhaps just the far side of campus), they heard a tremendous explosion. 

Their path was not particularly a long one:  

They headed down the main (here, unnamed) waterfront road adjoining the city canal, hoping to go north across the Chandler St. Bridge. However, as soon as the bridge came into view, they saw it blown up by what seemed to be members of the District (or City) Guard.

A tall, gaunt figure approached from the smoke-filled, dusty darkness, alarming the group until they recognized him as the student whom Emmeline had sweet-talked into accessing the student kiosks on campus the day before, Guelphman Ghibbelinus:

After a brief and tawdry reunion, Emmeline convinced Ghibbelinus—whose name she struggled noticeably to recall, but whom she definitely, absolutely had missed with the fondest of tendernesses—to climb up on the cart and accompany them out of the district, an invitation sealed with the most awkward kiss ever.  

Disheartened by the blasting of the Chandler Road Bridge, the characters continued on down the same street, hoping to see a gondola or boat in the nearby canal, only to remember that the Waterfront Theater (facing the canal) was fenced off on the road they were on, to prevent people sneaking into to see performances. Meanwhile, the main buildings of the Theater District to the south had been set alight by the fire cultists among whose number Rampling Haddleshack had very recently (albeit briefly) counted himself.

Emmeline tossed the Mockeries over the fence surrounding the Waterfront Theater before climbing and hopped the fence herself. As Heihachi waited with Ghibbelnus on the cart, strange dark shadows swooped imposingly above. Finally, a strange creature swooped down—a winged, enormous owl with the claws and face of a small bear:

(If you remember the first post in from my Electric Bastionland series, this is an Ourshibouna, the mate of the Ourshiboun from that post—an “inverted” owlbear.) 

The creature prattled on about how it would be “meet” for the group to “meet” its “mate” and how they “might be meet meat-men to meet my mate,”; after a little bit of this, Heihachi grew a little dizzy, but resisted whatever strange effect the creature’s voice had begun to have on him, whereas Guelphman Ghibbelinus succumbed. Reading between the lines, the creature (“somehow”) knew that they’d been on campus lately, somewhere near its mate, and it wanted their help rescuing said mate. Guelphman Ghibbelnus was hypnotized, the creature took it up in its bear-claws, and flew off into the night, leaving Heihachi alone and feeling increasingly unwell. 

Emmeline, wandering the now-empty Waterfront Theater grounds, managed to find a rowboat, and noticed that the scorpions were not able to endure water: she saw one or two fall into the water and short-circuit, becoming inert. She conducted the Mockeries into the rowboat, and convinced them not to mess with the rope with which it had been tied to a small pier while she went to make arrangements with Heihachi. As they spoke, they heard another nearby explosion—the Sun Road Bridge, they supposed, had been blown—and they agreed to meet at the charred ruins of the Chandler Road Bridge. 

Driving the cart back down toward Chandler Road, Heihachi noticed that the fire cultists had succeeded in setting most of the Theater district alight, and were now working on setting fire to the Guttershine City Council District Officer, while chanting, “Down with Debt! Burn the Records!” Heihachi cheered them on as he turned the cart north and made his way to the blasted bridge. 

Emmeline took over rowing the boat after the Mockeries fumbled with the oars; when they arrived at the bridge they found Heihachi had grown still more ill: now he was vomiting bile, and of a highly acidic nature too. (Cobblestones smoked and steamed where the stuff spattered, and scorpions actively avoided the stuff.) The group puzzled about whether they could get the barrel into the river without smashing it, decided  that because of all the rubble beneath the water they probably couldn’t do it, and decided with heavy hearts to abandon the beer. Heihachi called out to the fire cultists, offering them the barrel. They eagerly took it, cackling with glee and arguing about whether beer contained sufficient alcohol to act as an accelerant to fire. 

(Spoiler: It does not.)

Having abandoned the beer, Heihachi set the horses free and then yanked his climbing gear out of his pack. He affixed a grappling hook around the twisted remnants of metal reinforcement bars jutting from the wreckage of the bridge where it met the road, and then attempted to climb down. Only a foot or two down the rope, he retched and vomited hissing, acidic bile, and between his tumbling fall and the scrambling of those below attempting to avoid the bile, everyone ended up in the water. They all managed somehow to make their way to the far side of the canal and then, dripping wet, regrouped. 

At that moment, a massive, white-furred monster descended from the darkness, hoping to attack them.

Of course, Heihachi and Emmeline both had rifles—and high quality ones—that they’d stolen from the guards at the Warehouse. The fact they were went didn’t matter… much. (I did a secret roll after each shot to see if the rifles were damaged, because who doesn’t love a ruptured barrel in the middle of a desperate battle?) It took three rifle blasts and one pistol shot by the Mockeries, as well as Emmeline being horribly raked by the monster’s claws, but Heihachi managed to stun the monster with a shot that ripped open its head and shattered part of its wing, after which he put the thing out of its misery.  

Emmeline, spattered with both her own blood and the monster’s, decided to cut open the creature and examine its anatomy. Heihachi, waiting, watched South Guttershine burnbuildings collapsing and the carpet of scorpion automata slowly thickening by the minute. At the end of her examination, Emmeline felt ill, made their way North along Chandler road to the first hospital they saw. 

Going inside, they consulted with a physician, who carefully listened to the group’s tale an observed Heihachi’s and Emmeline’s symptoms—by this time, pale gunk was seeping from Emmeline’s eyes as well, and of course one must imagine he was perplexed by the fact that she had the upper snout of a rhinoceros protruding from her otherwise-human face. When he heard that they may have contracted a disease after Heihachi stepped through a portal between worlds, and that Emmeline had been exposed to a creature form that world, he took the entire group to a special, private consulting room, handed Heihachi a black rubber bucket, and said, “Wait here,” as he hurried out.

Heihachi waited patiently, emptying now-black bile from his guts into a rubber bucket while Emmeline rifled through the drawers in the room. (She found nothing particularly exciting: some weak painkillers, bandages, and a few vials of antibiotics.) Then, all of a sudden, there was a clicking and a clacking sound at the door, as if a deadbolt were being locked… from outside. “I’m sorry,” someone—the doctor?—said from the other side of the door. “We can’t take any chances!”

Heihachi, horrified, looked around the room for the air vents, and then called to the Mockeries. He was planning to send them down one of the vents when, all of a sudden his illness took a turn for the worse: he could feel strange shapes beneath the suface of his skin, movements, as if the positions of his bones and muscles were changing, as if tumors were bursting forth from his muscles, and his skin became extremely itchy. Emmeline, on the other hand, fought off the illness and was left with only the issue of a bit of weakness and the gunk seeping from her eyes. 

… and that was where we left off. 

Updated notes in the spoiler below.


  • I was asked OOC whether the illness is fatal, and commented, “If only. No, it will affect your character more deeply the more saving throws you fail, but it’s not fatal. It’s much worse than that.
  • I’ve modified the illness stages: 5 stages is too many, and “coma” isn’t fun. Here’s the updated details of the illness:
    • This disease is airborne, with a gestation period of 1d4 hours for the first stage, and then 1d6x5 minutes per consecutive stage. It is normally encountered on iceworlds (not in the world of Bastion).
    • Symptoms: Progress from one symptom usually occurs rapidly: handwave the times for dramatic purposes if you like. The progression halts when a character makes one successful STR checks to resist it, but all symptoms that have manifested by that point will recur with any exposure to cold weather. 
      • Stage 1: Yellow discharge from the eyes and terrible thirst. (Impaired for first 30 minutes.)
      • Stage 2: Violent vomiting of highly acidic bile. (Impaired) 
      • Stage 3: Tumors burst from the skin, white fur begins quickly to grow (Disabled).
    • If untreated, the disease turns the infected into a kind of yeti-like being. It can be overcome through natural resistance, or by drowning followed by revival, but any exposure to extremely cold weather may trigger a recurrence. (STR save to avoid, but progress beyond original stages occurs at a much slower rate.) If untreated, the transformed being gains 1 STR per week, but loses 1 CHA per week. 
  • The electrical fire in the control room was put out, and the portal is now closed, but ~8 of the Icewings got through.   
  • The Scorpionbots have overrun South Guttershine entirely, but that area of the district was quarantined successfully. They are now constructing… something. 
  • Rampling Haddleshack has been carried off into Deep Country. He’ll show up again at the least opportune time. 
  • The Fire Cult did burn the local debt records. Patchy backups exist in North Guttershine. Some surviving citizens, discovering themselves out of debt, will consider themselves ruined and flee Bastion. Others will claim for themselves ridiculous degrees of debt, only to be questioned and released as debtless nobodies.   
  • Guelphman Ghibbelinus fought valiantly against the Tintapans and did reunite the Ourshibouna with its mate. Whether he succeeded in beating the Tintapans, or survived, is an open question.
  • Where is Dr. Winslee? Who knows.

It looks like we’re going to try wrap up this season of the game by the start of August and then, after a short hiatus, we’ll try out some other games. We’re not sure what yet, though if we do return to this world, likely it’ll be to explore Deep Country and The Underground—especially a region of Deep Country known as the Ultraviolet Grasslands. SEACAT is cool and all, but I found a handy fan supplement by Will Hilton titled Into the Grasslands that has everything you’d need to run a UVG game using the Electric Bastionland ruleset. It’s very tempting! 

But I feel like it might be fun to try a few different rulesets and tones with these guys. One player suggested Fiasco, which he’s played with me before and which he thinks the other player would enjoy. We will probably try that, or perhaps A Town Called Malice (the hack that jiggers Fiasco‘s system for telling Nordic horror/mystery stories). I’m also thinking it’d be fun to try one of the Forged in the Dark games—perhaps Scum and Villainy, or Eat Trash, Be Free?—or a PbtA game like The Happiest Apocalypse on Earth or maybe The Warren. That said, some old-school-ish D&D game is also among our plans, and since both these players lived as expats in Korea, my Ghostbusters Korea adventure’s probably a good option, using the West End Games Ghostbusters rules. (Ghostbusters feels like it’d work especially well with them: the rules are simple and straightforward, the setting familiar, and they’re great at bringing the comedy, which is what I hear is necessary in players for a successful Ghostbusters run: GM runs it like a horror game, but the players play it like… well, like comedians.) 

I am also tempted let them try out a Gumshoe game with them, or maybe even Over the Edge, sight unseen—something with a relatively simple system, where they don’t know the schtick going in and have to grapple with it alongside their characters. Unlike with experienced gamers, I think there’s a kind of fun to being thrown in not knowing what to expect: learning the nerdtropes of the hobby by immersion, instead of from the blurb text on the backs of rulebooks. 

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