The Pineville Settlement has traditionally been a closed community for its own protection. In order to secure the bunker from attacks by raiders and slavers, the leadership has kept tight control over who can and cannot come in and out of the bunker. Many residents of the bunker have spent the bulk of their lives never stepping foot outside, and those who have returned with enough horror stories as to what awaits out in the bayous that few have questioned the matter.
Over the last year, however, merchant caravans have begun to make regular trips through the bayou going back and forth to New Orleans. After some tentative contact with scouts, Captain Harris has allowed the caravans to make stops at the settlement to trade. The knowledge of a major settlement in New Orleans has the bunker buzzing with both anticipation and a little anxiety.
Like all young people in the settlement, the players were assigned to various departments for work duties when they turned sixteen. Over the last couple of years, they have been learning important vocational skills that would be of benefit to the settlement. Ean Redmond is training as a doctor under the watchful eye of his father Dr. Henry Redmond, who is the Lead Physician responsible for the Medical Bay. To date, his father hasn’t trusted him to treat anything more serious than skin rashes, and the young man longs for something a little more challenging. Cross works in the Medical Bay’s pharmaceutical Laboratory with Head Chemist Mortimer Abercrumbie, who is suppose to be teaching young Cross the methodology of creating both medicinal tonics and tinctures but has instead taking him on as an occult apprentice to assist him with his own occult research.
Bartholomew “Bomber” Brown works in the Engineering Bay under Lead Engineer Snake Dergen, spending his days learning HVAC repair while dreaming about building his own set of mechanized armor. Also working in the Engineering Bay is Ryan Walsh, who is a new resident of the settlement. Ryan was raised on a Liberty Militia compound, but had a falling out with the group after witnessing one of the leaders shoot a young Hispanic girl who was fleeing from a group of cannibal raiders and ran toward the compound screaming for help. The young man was exiled from the compound and left out in the bayou alone; essentially a death sentence. But he was found by Scoutmaster Vance West, who brought him back to the settlement and convinced Harris to let the young man stay.
The campaign opens in the Medical Bay, with Dr. Redmond leaving Ean alone while he attends a meeting with Captain Harris. The only patient in the bay is a senior citizen with hemorrhoids, after all, so the Doctor figures it is a simple enough problem for his son to handle. Not long after he leaves, however, the Scoutmaster and two of his men come bursting into the medical bay with West’s dog Blue on a stretcher. West is yelling for Dr Redmond and just keeps saying “Those (expletive) shot Blue!” even as he is bleeding from several bullet wounds of his own. West refuses to allow Ean to treat him until he takes care of his dog.
Ean successfully examines the animal and realizes its injury is not life threatening, and is able to stitch up Blue’s wound. He then turns his attention to West. Though he doesn’t have the skill to remove the bullets from West, he does manage to stop the bleeding and get the man stable until his father gets back to the Medical Bay.
Meanwhile, Boomer and Ryan hear the commotion across the hall in the Medical Bay and decide to sneak over and see what is going on. Their first attempt to sneak out from under Snake’s watchful eye fails dismally and they are ordered back to work. A second attempt, this time with a little bluff that they were just going to take a smoke break, gets them out of the Engineering Bay so they can go see what is happening.
Dr. Redmond returns and sends Ean to go get Captain Harris. When he returns with the Captain, West finally explains coherently what occurred. He and a couple of his scouts were doing a scavenge run into the ruins of the town of Pineville to the north when they got into a skirmish with some raiders. The raiders ended up leading them into an ambush, and they barely got out in one piece. West wants to get a posse together to go clear the raiders out, because allowing them to have a base that close to the settlement can only lead to trouble.
Captain Harris, however, is cautious. He’s having a hard time believing a bunch of thugs actually managed to ambush West and wants to have a small group scout out the location first to see what is really going on. Harris says that when West’s other scout groups return to the settlement, he can assign a team to go investigate and report back. West is adamant that they shouldn’t wait because the long they wait the more dug in the raiders will get. West wants to go himself, and orders someone to go get “that witch boy” and have him bring him one of those potions that “that devil worshipping master” of his makes.
Ryan goes to the lab and requests a potion. Abercrumbie initially refuses, because he is in the middle of a very important experiment and besides saving people in the medical bay is what the doctor is for. The potions are only supposed to be used for emergencies. Ryan lies and says West is dying and will bleed out without the potion. Abercrumbie finally agrees and tells Cross to go administer the potion.
When they get to the Medical Bay, West and Harris are still arguing. West finally suggests that Ryan can scout the ruins. Harris doesn’t like the idea of sending a bunch of kids, but finally agrees that waiting for the more experienced scouts may not be the best option. Meanwhile, Hunter* has returned from his first official scout mission and has been informed that his boss is in the medical bay. He rushes down there and immediately volunteers for the team when he learns what happened.
Boomer also volunteers to go, and Dr. Redmond suggests that Ean should go in the event someone gets injured and needs treatment in the field. Ean is surprised by his father’s suggestion, but is excited to leave. Cross goes back to the lab and informs Abercrumbie what is going on. His master suggests he too should volunteer to join the group, and that he has a special task for Cross to perform while he is in the ruins. Through various unnamed sources, Abercrumbie has learned that the old library in Pineville may still be partially standing. The library had a Special Collections unit in the basement. There is a particular book in that collection he would like Cross to obtain. When Cross asks about the book, his master simply says “You’ll know it when you see it.”
Harris tells the fledgling party to go talk to Snake and get equipped properly so they come back in one piece. He also stresses that they are not to engage any hostiles if at all possible. This is an information gathering mission. Sneak in, see what is going on, and get the hell out. Don’t play heroes or get brave. Snake equips the party with some light tactical armor and available weapons and ammo. He also tells Boomer and Ryan that he has a little task for them while they are in the ruins. His old boss use to claim that the police station in Pineville had a secret vault in the sub basement with high tech weapons. Chances are pretty good the stash is still there, and the bunker can use the weapons. But they probably won’t be able to break the vault. He wants them to test out a thermite device that should melt through the vault door and give them access. If they can, he wants them to go to the police station, find the vault, and bring back whatever they can. Snake isn’t completely sure the device will work, and Harris has not given him the authorization to test it in the bunker over safety concerns.
After getting equipped and their final instructions, the party leaves the bunker and heads north to the ruins. Hunter successfully navigates the terrain with his survival skill, avoiding the nearby alligator nest entirely. The party approaches the ruins and spots what appears to be some sort of robot patrolling the southern border of the ruins. Ryan looks through his binoculars and notices that the robot has a RNT insignia on it.
They decide to avoid the robot and sneak around it deeper into the ruins, but Ean gets spotted by the robot. The robot immediately becomes hostile and begins firing on the group. After an extended firefight (which included a hard lesson on the futility of using arrows against a construct with harness**) the robot was defeated. Unfortunately, the commotion had attracted attention and the party realizes someone else is coming to investigate the shooting.
The party ducks into a ruined building and notes what at first appears to be a raider emerge from the ruins. The raider slowly approaches the disabled robot, but stops short. He looks around for a moment, doesn’t spot the party, and slowly turns to go back into the ruins. Taking an opportunity, the party snipes the raider from stealth and quickly takes him down. While searching the body (and obtaining new loot) the raider’s walkie talkie comes on with a voice “Louis, what’s going on? Over.” It repeats twice before Hunter inexplicably decides to respond with “Nothing, it’s all cool.” The transmission shuts off and the party hides again just before a larger group comes out of the ruins to investigate.
This time, they see a group of five “raiders” and one individual in mechanized armor. They investigate the area, examining the body and the robot. After some discussion amongst themselves, they take the body and the robot with them back into the ruins.
There is then some discussion among the group what to do next. They technically know what they need to know to report back to Harris, but Cross still wants to obtain the book and Boomer really wants to try out the thermite. If the RNT is in the ruins, however, it is too dangerous to try to navigate the city…on the surface. Ryan gets the idea to try the sewers.
The party locates an entrance point into the old, crumbling sewer system and after some navigation makes their way deeper into the ruins. The sewers have taken on a lot of water from the surrounding area, so the party is walking shin deep through some rather nasty, irradiated stuff (absorbing rems along the way). They also get attacked by some rather oversized rats before finding an exit point near where the library should be.
They peek around and realize there is nothing in the immediate area and exit the sewer. Most of the library is burned and in ruins, but they manage to find an entry point into the basement by moving away some of the rubble. Unfortunately, the stairs collapse as some of the party descend into the basement. But everyone survives.
The party realizes something is wrong by the presence of a lot of spider webbing. The cobwebs are a bit oversized to be normal spiders. They soon realize what caused it when a giant spider emerges from a hiding spot and attacks the party. After dispensing with the spider, they continue searching until they find what is left of the special collections. They find a locked fire cabinet, which Ryan unlocks. Inside the fire cabinet is a locked glass case holding a leather-bound book. They get the second case unlocked and Cross retrieves the book. Flipping it open, it appears to be a rather old grimoire written in Latin.
Ean also finds a completely intact atlas of the state before the war, which they decide to take with them. They make their way out of the library and go back to the sewers. After getting lost a couple of times, they finally find an exit point near where the police station should be. Peeking out, they realize quickly the RNT has set up camp in the area!
Determined to complete their task, Ryan gets the bright idea to “blast” their way into the basement. The city is crumbling around them anyway. Maybe nobody will notice if they can do a controlled blast, and he has some dynamite. After making some calculations, they blast a portion of the sewer to gain access to the crumbling foundation of the police station. Using the last of his dynamite, he blasts the wall without killing himself and the rest of the party. The explosion, alas, does attract attention from above. The party hides as someone comes down the stairs and yells up that there is a collapse in the basement. Someone else yells back with a “so what else is new?” and “we’ll fix it later.”***
With the threat of detection gone, the party snuck into the basement and succeeded in finding an area of the concrete floor that looked patched compared to the rest of the floor. Using a chisel, they removed the thin patch of concrete to reveal a metal trap door. The determined that someone must have known the vault was here and attempted to hide it. Ryan rigged the thermite device and barely gets out of the way in time before it goes off and burns through the door. This then allowed them to manipulate the mechanism locking the vault an open it.
Once they climbed down into the vault, they found a cache of laser weapons, battery packs and rechargers. They realized that at one time there was more in the vault, but police themselves probably used a lot of the gear that had once been in the vault. They load up everything they can carry (amazingly NOT alerting the rather unperceptive individuals above them!) and climb out of the vault and exit through the hole in the basement wall. After getting lost a couple more times, they finally make their way out of the ruins.
Outside the ruins, they take stock of the huge cache of loot in their possession and have a bit of an ethical quandary. They are supposed to return to the bunker and turn in anything they find for the benefit of the entire settlement. And with the RNT setting up shop only few miles away in the ruins, the bunker will need all the equipment it can get. The suggestion is floated around that maybe they don’t need to return to the bunker at all. With what they found, they could probably make their way all the way to New Orleans and make a small fortune selling the weapons!
In the end, however, they decide to go home. They report in to Harris and inform him of what they learned and turn over the laser weapons to Snake for inventory. Snake tells them that while he can’t rightfully let them have laser weapons and ammo****, he will give them pick of the regular inventory to get themselves some better gear.
*One of the players was late to the game and he hadn’t given me his character’s name yet. So the rest of the players decided to just call his Hunter Hunter.
**At this point, there was a game mechanics discussion regarding the rules for constructing robots and I’ve since made adjustments to the construction. Even the lower level robots were too hard to harm because of the housing hardness. So it has been adjusted for the future.
Your fearless GM was having a serious case of the ones, with my NPCs not capable of rolling a perception check above eight for most of the evening.
Because they are first level characters that took eight rounds for five people to take down one robot because they couldn’t hit the side of a barn, and nobody is wasting expensive laser weapon ammo on people with base attack bonuses of +1.