Numenera 14: Chekov’s Big Hole In The Floor

  • Sharad, an Intelligent Nano who Leads and hey, is that a image-empathic retrieval nanite generator or is this pyramid just happy to see me?
  • Rosetta, a Graceful Nano who Crafts Unique Items and whose nemesis may be falling vending machines.
  • Red Pepper, a Graceful Glaive who Wields Two Weapons and a Parthian grenade.
  • Giana, a Strong-willed Jack who Focuses Mind-Over-Matter and floating about a lot.

and only a little bit later…

  • Meef, a Mechanical Jack who Exists Partially Out Of Phase and didn’t even notice that machine fall, what?

The big accomplishments of last session were to successfully find the big Black Pyramid and the ruined city beneath it, but also to find a way inside the pyramid.

STILL one of my favourite Numenera images.

The way inside was the hole which opened up above the party as they stood on the stone bridge between the two tallest towers, right underneath the center of the black pyramid. This presented a problem because there was 45′ of cold, dry air between them and the hole. They had rope – so much rope – due to all the explorer’s packs they had found. And they had two means of getting up there: Giana’s new ability to hover and the levitation rod that they’d found under the floating corpse.

So Red and Giana ascended into the opening. As they got closer they saw the small lights of active machinery and a high ceiling dotted with mechanical tentacles that swayed and snapped wildly in the interior of the room. Slowly approaching the hole, they peeked up into the large room above them. The walls were packed with remnant technologies with no clear purpose and more machinery was stacked around the room (but away from the hole). The tentacles that descended from the ceiling waved around with pincers at their tips, seemingly moving at random. Furthermore, there were people in there: two men and a woman. The men were busy at a small makeshift campsite they had made, while the woman was on guard and spotted Giana and Red and cried out.

From the camp area, the two men spun around and one yelled at the sisters. They tried explaining that they were here for the Rokumol, but the man – bald, bearded and geared up for exploration – was having none of it and told them to get lost. He was quite defensive.

Fine, Red and Giana left, descending. As they did so, Red lofted a cellular disruptor into the room where the paranoid bald guy had been standing. It went off, but exactly what happened isn’t clear because they didn’t see it, but the occupants of the room were not happy.

Red and Giana cheesed it back down to the bridge between towers as the others waited to find out what had been going on up there. Meanwhile, the trio in the pyramid spotted these people on the bridge and decided to heave one of the enormous machine bulks out the hole. The thing – about the size of a vending machine – was slid out of the hole and whipped down towards the bridge. Giana had just enough time to glance it with a TK blast to protect the bridge, but the wicked spin this put on the bulk caught a couple of the party, sending Rosetta backwards off the bridge. She cracked her whip around the stone bridge and stopped her fall.

They moved off the delicate stone bridge and went into a huddle with a view to discussing how to get back up there. It was tricky. They were restricted to getting two people up there at a time unless they somehow got a rope up there, in which case they’d still be slowly bringing people up – tough to rush this room.

But that’s exactly what they ended up doing. Giana hovered up at night, painted black (Rosetta has a pot of black paint that refills every night) stealthily exploring the lip of the hole that had opened. Without being seen she managed to see some of what was in the room and used her TK powers to slip a rope around one of the other vending machine sized mechanisms. With almost everyone else cued up on the rope, they breached the room.

Although there were only three people in the opposing party, to their six, the fight wasn’t as quick or as easy as it could have been. The bald guy ordered his two Glaives into combat and they sprang forth to engage, while he blasted whoever seemed threatening with a mental blast that hurt, a lot, and also turned the victim smurf blue. The opposing party also did something to activate the metallic tentacles that writhed around the roof, making everyone’s actions that much harder as they avoided the grasping talons at the end, or were caught and held.

You can’t have a big hole over a lethal drop without someone going through it and that’s what happened: the woman who was fighting on behalf of the bald guy was frozen in place and then pulled over the hole and dropped, still frozen, still alive, to the street below.

The other glaive fought with a thin wire-like blade that surrounded itself with a glowing light that tore things apart when it touched them. He proved to be a tougher opponent, but he eventually went down to the combined efforts of the team. As he fell, his powered sword slid across the floor, bounced off some stuff and fell down the hole too.

This left only the bald guy in robes, who seemed to be an accomplished Nano and was not easy to kill. So not easy that they didn’t actually kill him. Instead, he leapt through the hole in the floor when his two Glaives were gone, only activating his levitation rod when he was close to the ground. He ran off through the warren-like city as Red took potshots at him.

The party attended their wounds and realised that the smurf blue was going to stick around for a while. Shome had been set the task of figuring out how to shut off the tentacles and once the entire brain trust was set to the task, it didn’t take long: they resumed their positions waggling around harmlessly near the ceiling. They also searched through the belongings of the other adventurers and fond some neat stuff and some basic supplies. Even more explorer’s packs (so much rope).

At some point it occurred to people to look for an exit to this large cube like room. Sure enough they found a short passage and after making sure everyone was healed and rested up, they found out what was down the short passage: Another large room! Filled with Rokumol! They reattached their divining leg to the beast who was missing it and tendrils of wire and sinew slid over the missing piece, binding it back in place while whatever bio-welding that needed to happen happened. The Rokumol, for being big creatures abducted from their pasture, were pretty calm and chilled out. Oh no, it occurred to them, how on earth do we get them back down to the ground?

In the same room as the Rokumol, a console of some sort. Sharad set to work on it and aced his check pretty hard: this was a type of Numenera with which he was quite familiar. This device appeared to be related to the maintenance and repair of this floating black pyramid – when a new part was needed, the user’s mind was scanned for the exact type of part, a cloud of nanites was released and it searched the surrounding area around the pyramid for the components needed, disassembled them and then reassembled them here, where they were sorted and re-purposed by the flailing tentacles next door. At least, that’s Sharad’s educated guess.

Why the Rokumol were brought there in this way is anyone’s guess. But Sharad was pretty certain that he could command the nanite mist to put the Rokumol back where it got them. In fact, he thought he could send them back too. Everyone seemed fine with the idea of being broken down at the molecular level and blown across miles and miles of savannah, then hopefully rebuilt the right way by tiny magic robots. Sharad stayed behind to operate the machine with Shome for company.

One deliberate disintegration later and the Rokumol and most of the party where whisked back to just outside the racing camp, where they were greeted as heroes by everyone and especially a tearful Uolis. There then followed a day of celebration and partying while Sharad and Shome played endless games of I Spy. The following morning, Sharad activated the blue mist to return the party to the Black Pyramid while they were in the middle of their business. Nobody, we decided, was taking a morning shit when that happened.