Game Day: One Hell of a Session

Summer is winding down, which means the chances that my gaming group will have a full gaming session are going up. This week saw six of us get together to continue our Weird Pulp campaign, which had been stalled since June.

It was a hell of a session. During “Episode 9: The Terror in the Woods” our heroes uncovered an insane fertility cult dedicated to the Goat with a Thousand Young. They arrived too late to stop the cult’s ritual sacrifice of a half-dozen victims; instead they had to deal with what the ritual summoned: a mutated, mindless tentacled horror standing over 40 feet tall. The creature had already slain most of the cult — only its leader, Oscar Slaughter, remained — and had destroyed most of the private Catskills resort where it had appeared.

During that episode the heroes had tried to kill the Terror by ramming it with car loaded with explosives. That didn’t work, so they tried feeding it the enthusiastic cult leader, who mistakenly carried a stick of TNT thinking it was a magic rod. The explosion failed to kill the creature, so they tried to electrify it using the resort’s still-functional generator.

That staggered it momentarily … but the beast kept after them. Two real-world months later we picked up right where we left off, with two new investigators arriving to help out. More importantly, they were mystically-inclined investigators, which would make all the difference.

“Episode 10: Strange Thunder” featured exactly the sort of over-the-top action you’d expect when investigators take on unstoppable horrors from beyond time and space. They found a local ally — a fellow mystic traveller who happened to have a cache of dynamite he was using to try and tunnel to the center of the earth — and convinced him to “lend” them his explosives.

They then loaded said explosives into the sidecar of a motorcycle and launched it at the creature. This led to a quick lookup of the Savage Worlds TNT rules (found in the Deadlands Reloaded hardcover), which in turn caused us to laugh hysterically when we realized what the blast radius would be from 24 sticks of dynamite.

It was hugely amusing. Ineffective when it came to killing the monster … but hugely amusing nonetheless.

They raided a local New York Guard armory for a truck and howitzer, and used it to take potshots at the Terror in the Woods. The howitzer knocked the beast back and prevented it from eating August Farnstaff, one of the group’s mystics, but it did little to actually stop the monster.

It was only when one of the mystics started firing arcane bolts at The Terror in the Woods that the heroes were able to confirm their suspicions that magic held the key to slaying the beast.

Alistair Sebastian Cadwalader Martindrake III, the party’s other mystic, cast a smite spell upon the howitzer’s artillery shells, and his colleagues immediately began unleashing heaven’s wrath upon the creature.

Normally spending an entire night fighting one monster would have gotten old really, really fast, but that didn’t happen. I think the reason why was because the Terror in the Woods was more of an extended challenge rather than a monster.

Our heroes had to figure out how to:

  1. Distract the monster from destroying the town of Queenston
  2. Convince the locals that “The Martians” were invading … and to do something about it.
  3. Find heavy ordinance and explosives to fight the beast.
  4. Drive a nearly-out-of-control rocket bike on a mad dash through the countryside.
  5. Stay one step ahead of the thing’s tentacles

There was something for everyone to do and the monster was tough enough that every action was fueled by increasing desperation. Plus … it was Savage Worlds. That meant lots of cheers as the dice exploded, dealing extra damage against the monster, and groans as the beast spent bennies to soak the wounds. Poker chips flew fast and furious a both sides sought the upper hand.

There was a fun, frantic tension in the air that was finally defused when the bullet from a blessed rifle finally slew the monster.

Yeah, it was a hell of a session, the sort of session that you look back on and say this is why we’re gamers. This is worth the hours of game prep, the long drives of the players, and Diet Coke-fueled late nights. This is why, after nearly eighteen years, I still love gaming with these guys, and why I’ll be back in two weeks for Episode 11.