Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dangerous Encounter: Mass Effect

During a journey one afternoon between adventures, the PCs come across a small encampment that has been torn asunder. Tents and lean-tos have been torn apart, carts overturned, and personal items and clothing scattered everywhere. There is a lot of blood in two areas of the camp, pointing to potentially fatal wounds inflicted on at least two of the victims. There is no sign of any of the victims, however, the snapped branches and gouges in the earth reveal they were overpowered then dragged off to the south, away from the main roads and into the woods.

Amongst the debris lays the body of a Morlock (MF rules, page 84). It appears the camp was attacked by a band of these albino underground cannibals. The victims were apparently able to kill one of the beasts before being dragged off to their underground lair, presumably to feed. But Morlocks prefer their prey to still be alive when they begin to feed, so why would they drag off two presumably dead victims? Also, the attack occurred recently while the sun was still up, and Morlocks are well-known nocturnal creatures. Attacking during the day is unheard of.

If the PCs follow the trail, it leads to an isolated cave entrance about a mile away. There are 7 Morlocks milling around the cave entrance, and there are four humans tied to a tree near the cave -- apparently the still-living victims. There are two bloody trails leading into the cave where the Morlocks must have taken the two killed victims. Some things might not add up for the PCs: The sunlight is obviously causing the Morlocks discomfort, but they seem to be avoiding entering the cave. If the PCs attack the Morlocks in the daytime, the Morlocks have a -2 penalty to hit and damage due to their albinism mutation in the sunlight.

Morlocks (7) (AL C, MV 120' (40'), AC 8, HD 9, #AT 1 (primitive rifle), DG 1d6, SV L5, ML 9, mutations: albinism, intellectual affinity (tinkerer), thermal vision)

A few days ago, while digging and expanding their underground lair, the band of Morlocks unearthed a Humanoid Mass that had been hibernating in a deep cavernous complex (MF rules, page 77). The Humanoid Mass immediately engulfed and consumed three Morlocks, then used its many mutations to mentally overpower and dominate the other seven Morlocks. Having not eaten in several decades, the Humanoid Mass demanded that the remaining Morlocks bring it food as tribute, else the Morlocks would BECOME food. The Morlocks complied, bring the Humanoid Mass any forest animals and live creatures they could find. They fear what the Humanoid Mass will do if not fed, so they have been venturing out during the day to hunt and forage.

The Humanoid Mass is just inside the cave, unseen in the darkness, absorbing the two bodies the Morlocks just delivered while watching the ensuing fight with the PCs. It has the Morlocks dominated with its fragrance development mutation, and the tied-up victims aren't going anywhere. So now it's formulating a plan to deal with the PCs.

Humanoid Mass (1) (AL C, MV 15' (5'), AC 8, HD 10, #AT 1 (mutation), DG by mutation, SV L8, ML 9, mutations: fragrance development, regenerative capability, toxic weapon, disintegration,  force screen, mental barrier, mind thrust, neural telepathy)

The Humanoid Mass will keep itself hidden until the time is right to strike. One of the Morlocks may run back into the cave if the fight is going badly. If any PCs follow, the Humanoid Mass will first throw up its force screen mutation, then blasting its mind-controlling fragrance at the interloper. It will then ask the controlled PC to call his friends deeper into the cave. It cannot move very quickly, so the Humanoid Mass will try to overpower the PCs with its mind-controlling fragrance and blasts of its mind thrust.

If it begins to lose the fight, the Humanoid Mass will sear the PCs with its devastating disintegration mutation before slithering off into the darkness of the cave. Its regenerative capability will repair its injuries while it hibernates for another few decades when it will resurface to feed again. The PCs can then rescue the remaining captives and claim the various treasures and trinkets the Morlocks and the Humanoid Mass have hidden deeper in the cave nearer their lair: 4 smoke grenades, an energy grenade, a warp-field mace, a case (24) of various canned foods, and 1,076 gold pieces.

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