At the weekend the local university games society ran their annual 24 Hour event, having attended regularly for the past few year I went with the intention of running a Frozen Skies based adventure.
It was the Lost Sodkan Mine adventure that I'd been working on and been intending to eventually publish. Ended up having to run it a few hours later than planned and with four players, though I was kinda hoping for one or two more....admittedly it was pretty late at night.
The crew (pilot, marksman, mechanic and a rather strong woman called Helga) were 'volunteered' by the Royal Alyeskan Air Police to help investigate a series of raids against remote settlements by 'heavily armoured men'. The raiders were only interested in mechanical parts and devices, plus they did not harm anyone unless they were attacked first. In addition the RAAP had caught a distress call from the settlement of Ragnar Point who'd reported being under attacked by the strange raiders, a RAAP officer (played as an NPC) went with the crew to ensure that the investigation got done.
They flew out to Ragnar Point and their first sight of the mining settlement was ominous columns of smoke rising into the snowy sky from a number of burnt buildings, plus there was no response to their radio calls. They landed and spread out to explore the place, noting a scene of devastation round the area of the actual minehead and signs of a gunfight. There was some miners still hiding whom the crew encountered and questioned, turns out the miners had used their own explosives on the raiders which accounted for the damage. The miners also stated that the raiders were completely enclosed in armour, Helga likened this to a knight in full armour. The crew also came across...pieces of the raiders, all mechanical with no signs of any flesh. The mechanic managed to find and pry open a torso piece that had wires connected to a cage that contained a (now smashed) crystal in the matter of a electrical battery. Meanwhile the marksman found tracks leading northwards from the settlement that seemed to match the raiders.
The pilot and RAAP officer mounted the plane and tookoff to act as an aerial spotter, the others found a Mule Tracked Cargo Carrier and set off across the snowfield. After a while they came across a shape in the snow which was one of the mechanical raiders, something that proved to be an old Sodkan 'Iron Man' Automaton as the mechanic had suspected and around seven feet in height. It had also collapsed, seemingly from damage sustained during the attack on Ragnar Point. Now charged with some idea of what they were up against, the crew pressed on northwards coming across a.) the northern coastline, b.) a frozen bay and c.) an island across said frozen bay with what seemed to be a compound of a sort. The pilot made a flybay of the island whilst the others crossed the ice in the Mule, close to the compound the pilot spotted a small airstrip that had a 'recently arrived' (as in the past few days) transport plane parked on it. Presuming that there people present on the island the pilot opted to land on the ice and report to the rest of the crew what he'd seen.
Now forewarned the crew checked out the plane and found that its engines had been disassembled and other parts had been taken, plus the body of what was presumably the plane's pilot who wore an Iron Collective uniform. There were other signs of fighting which suggested that the Sodkans didn't fare too well with the Automatons, though the Sodkans seemingly managed to fight their way into the mine as well as raiding the compound's armoury since it was a former Sodkan work camp/gulag. The crew made their way into the mine, finding more signs of combat and another dead Sodkan in addition to a rickety old life. Proceeding down to the lower level they found the surviving Sodkans fighting off Automatons in a large chamber, the crew opted to try and find another path which they did and found themselves face to face with a large machine much similar to a giant computer.
The machine seemingly watched them with some sort of optic device which one of the crew distracted so that the mechanic could sneak round to get a better look at things, course the crew then disabled the optic device and triggered an alarm. As the sound of Automatons grew nearer the mechanic found a large sphere covered in wires which he took to be the 'heart' of the machine, he called Helga to help him pry off a panel located beneath the sphere in order to get at its power core. The mechanic managed to gain access to the core as the others fought off Automatons, then sabotaged the core which silenced the alarm and halted the Automatons but produced some rather worrying sparks. Sensing that the place was about to become rather unhealthy to be and prompted the rest of the crew to consider making a hasty withdrawal, just as well since the Sodkans were now moving into the chamber after the Automatons had stopped attacking them.
Leaving the Sodkans to their fate, the crew ran hide for leather out of the mine and towards their own plane. Managing to get airborne and put some distance between them and the island before the compound was destroyed in a massive fireball. The RAAP were happy that the threat of the Iron Men had been neutralized, but were a bit concerned about the Sodkans' involvement.
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After having run it and having some time to think I would probably consider making the following changes before I run it again at the UK Games Expo in May.
*Redo the Rangar Point part of the adventure and the interaction with the miners there, I wasn't particularly happy with how I ran it on the night. Probably an idea having the miners be hostile to begin with considering they'd recently been attacked and all.
*On the island I would probably introduce the surviving Sodkans earlier, perhaps holed up in the compound after being stranded due to the Iron Men knocking their plane out of action. Could lead to the possibility of an uneasy alliance.
*Completely fill out character sheets, I had partially done this with some pre-gen characters to ensure the basics were down but filling out the rest took a large amount of time that could've been spent playing. I'll fully stat out pre-gen characters in future.
Still the Iron Men Automatons worked pretty damn well, then again they were modified versions of the Automatons from Deadlands Noir.