Chasing The Sunset & Robotics Facility

Chasing the Sunset is a West Marches-style exploration game using Fellowship 2nd Edition‘s Horizon rules.

The party: Dryden of Conwall the Collector/Hunter, Averiela the Elf, Lucia the Brave the Heir/Halfling Sheriff

Last time, the Fellowship sent a shutdown command to all the robots causing trouble in Thaumatown. Concerned that the robots may be reactivated and cause more trouble in the future, they want to disable them permanently. The robots don’t have fuel or batteries. Their power comes from some remote source, so the Fellowship looks beneath the Civic Center for this powerplant.

GM note: Lucia gained a level last time, and her player chose the Halfling Sheriff Destiny.

The robotics facility is indoors and likely crowded, so WhiteSand, Lucia’s horse, and Roddy all stay behind.  Averiela, Dryden, and Lucia are accompanied by Knows Too Much, Will, and Mara.  Lucia leads them along the path of her running battle with the Sentry Droid. They squeeze past the disabled behemoth, and find an wedge-shaped entrance hall with doors on the north, east, and south walls. The south door is labeled “Employees Only” They try that door and it’s locked.

GM note: We played this session online. I sketched the map with each room on a separate layer, so I could reveal only the rooms the characters had discovered. I’ll post complete images for each floor, but remember that the players didnt know what was in each room, or even which rooms existed, until they found and opened doors.

A map of Thaumatown robotics facility, level 1. Four rooms around a central elevator. North: repair bay. West: entrance hall. South: control center. East slick chute going down.
Thaumatown robotics facility, level 1.

Dryden already used his worm lockpicks. There’s a lock on the door, with a wide horizontal slot, like a hotel room in our world.

Dryden: I haven’t just smashed anything for a while.

Averiela: I bet the dead wizard had the key.

GM note: She’s right! Searching Allan a Zham’s study would reveal a keycard that grants access to all levels of the facility!

Dryden uses his two-handed Dwarven hammer to smash the door open! Pow! Bam! Boom! The door swings open with a sad creak. Dryden smirks. Inside is a control center, with status lights, dials and levers. There’s also a keycard, inscribed with a picture of a cube. There’s no door on the east side of the room. They try the door on the north wall. It’s a pocket door that slides aside, matching the curve of the wall.  Just inside that door is a curved metal wall.

Lucia examines the room.

Lucia Look Closely 6- 1 question, get the answer the hard way

  • What here is hidden or out of place?
    • She determines that this is the control center for a repair bay that fixes robots. Obvious enough, since the Sentry Droid said it was headed for the repair bay when she disabled it. The unpleasant discovery is the nature of the robots being repaired. The Enforcer Droids causing chaos on the streets above were mostly non-violent, but the robots in this repair bay seem more militant. She sees repair manifests mentioning napalm and other sorts of weapons. The robots in this facility are more dangerous than any the fellowship have faced so far.

The Fellowship returns to the entrance hall and tries the large door to the north. It’s unlocked, and opens into a robotic repair bay. The walls are divided into stalls. Each stall contains a robot in some state of repair or disassembly. The door on the east wall is in the middle of the wall, like a laundry chute, not on the floor like a normal door.  Robotic arms move along tracks on the ceiling, adding and removing parts from the robots in the bays. As soon as the Fellowship enters, the arms move towards them, ready to remove any damaged parts and place them into repair bays.

Dryden Mysterious Marvelous Thing: does exactly what you need

Dryden Keep Them Busy 10+

The Fellowship don’t want any parts snatched off of them! Dryden leaps into acton to distract the robotic arms. He has a egg-shaped magnet on the end of a large metal tube. The magnetic egg is from a meteor, probably. He found it in a crater back in the Forgotten Lands. The magnet lets him deflect the metal robotic arms reaching for him. He runs around the room, bashing the arms and yelling at them. This gives Lucia and Averiela space to examine the room.

Averiela Look Closely (+hope from Lucia’s aid) 10+

  • What will happen if I go through the East door?
    • It’s a one-way trip, and any misstep near it will send an unlucky character through!
    • Can’t Turn Back Now
      • The Threshold
      • Sudden Separation
  • Tell me about the dangerous robots?
    • Some Enforcer Droids have been refitted into Warrior Droids, with extra armor plates and arms wielding melee weapons. One robot has big tanks on its back, with broken hoses extending from them. Its hull is scorched.
  • What here is hidden or out of place?

GM note: I couldn’t think of anything, so I asked my players what they might find in a robotic repair bay. They suggested weapons from the combat robots and schematics for the robots, hidden in a small compartment. I let them choose either 3 melee weapons or plans for a robot, which could be built if they found materials and someone will the proper skills. They chose the weapons.

They grab a few weapons and prepare to leave, but worry about leaving the repari bay operational. They don’t want to go further into the facility and have killer robots behind them.

Lucia Finish Them (+sense disable) advantage: Dryden’s distraction 10+

Lucia takes a scrap of armor from one of the damaged robots and jams it into a track on the ceiling. Dryden runs past Lucia and all the robot arms pile up on the blocked track!

They return to the entrance hall and examine the weapons they found.  Averiela takes a very sharp sword made of atitanium alloy. Lucia has nunchuku. Dryden has a telescoping staff that starts as a foot-long rod then expanding into a two-handed weapon. They try the door on the East wall. The door slides away to reveal another door, which slides away to reveal a round room with a door on the far side and a control panel.

Cryptic controls. Red button (with slot beneath), green button, and blue button.
Cryptic controls.

There’s a slot under the red button that’s the same size as the slot on the door to the control center and the same size as the keycard.  Dryden puts the keycard in the slot. It fits! He presses the blue button, which makes a sad beep.  They open the door on the other side of the room. The floor of this room slopes down to a rectangular hole in the floor. This is the other side of the one-way door in the repair bay!  As they look, a heap of trash falls from a hatch in the ceiling and slides down the slope into the hole. Press the green button. Angry beep. Press the red button. Angry beep. Dryden closes the doors and examines the control panel.

GM note: It’s an elevator, and it won’t move with the door open.

Dryden Look Closely 7-9 3 questions, one answer the hard way

  • What here is hidden or out of place?
    • Nothing. It’s an empty room with two doors and a control panel.
  • How can the buttons hurt me or help me?
    • This room lets them access other parts of the facility, which is their goal, but will also expose them to more danger!
  • What happens if I press the buttons without the keycard in the slot?
    • Dryden pulls the keycard out and just presses the buttons. Red button. Angry beep. Blue button. Sad beep. Green button. Happy beep and the room shakes.

They open the doors and see the control center and repair bay. The green button rotated the room 90 degrees. That’s why some doors opened to blank walls. Dryden inserts the keycard and presses the red button. Happy beep, and the room goes down. It’s an elevator!

A map of Thaumatown robotics facility, level 1. North room, shielded robots. East room: swarms of recycling bug robots. South room: factory. West room: robot assembly room.
Thaumatown robotics facility, level 1.

They open the south door. This room is a factory. Raw materials come from east wall and travel along conveyor belts, where they are forged, stamped, and assembled into components which exit through the west wall. The room is full of heavy machinery, the conveyor belts will push anyone on them into those smashign and cutting hazards, and there’s not really a floor.  Too dangerous. They close the south door and open the north door.

  • 20x Warrior Drones
    • Overpowering
    • Group
  • Shield Commander
    • Diamond Command (nearby allies are Dwarf-made)
  • Warrior Elite
    • Protect The Little Ones (takes hits for adjacent allies)
  • 2x Phalanx Drone
    • Energy Shield (takes a hit for the ally it’s riding)

Most of the robots in this room are Warrior Drones (Enforcer Droids upgraded with armor and weapons). The Shield Commander is a squat robot with four legs and a glass dome that makes it look a bit like a turtle. The Warrior Elite looks like a Warrior Drone but it’s ten feet tall and has four arms instead of two. When the Fellowship opens the door, the Warrior Drones turn to look at them. The Shield Commander lights up its dome, putting an aura on all the other robots that makes them very hard to damage. The Warrior Elite steps in front of the Shield Commander to defend it, and the Phalanx Drones riding the Shield Commander and Warrior Elite power up their energy shields. This squad of robots has three layers of invulnerability, and they are not happy to see the Fellowship! Also, there’s a keycard on the Shield Commander. The Warrior Drones see the Fellowship as intruders and rush the elevator!

Dryden’s two-handed Dwarven hammer is Melee, Dwarf-Made, Armor (1 use)

Dryden Keep Them Busy 10+

Dryden’s Dwarven hammer is just as tough as the shielded Warrior Droids, so he swings it wildly to keep them at bay as Lucia shuts the door and Averiela hits the blue button. The elevator rises and the sounds of the Warrior Drones pounding on the door fades. Lucia opens the north door to the repair bay, and Averiela opens the south door to go into the control center. Lucia and Dryden say they should al stick together, so they also go into the control center.

Dryden Bear Trap (Trap, 1 Use, immobilizes an enemy)

Drdyen sets a bear trap that the threshold between the elevator and the control center, in case any killer robots try to sneak up behind them.  Averiela and Lucia examine the controls to see if there’s anything they can use against the killer robots.

Averiela Look Closely (+hope, Lucia aid) 7-9 3 questions, 1 answer the hard way

GM note: I just told them all about the controls in the room. I have trouble inventing “the hard way” and hidden things in areas that are safe.

They see controls for repair bay, but not for any other levels of the facility. There are controls for each bay. Robots in them can be scrapped, marked as ready for service, or powered down.  They power down the whole repair bay. All the status lights go out. Dryden retrieves his bear trap and the Fellowship returns to the elevator. Green button. The eleveator rotates. Red button. The elevator moves. Red button again. Angry beep. (The keycard only grants access to levels 1 and 2)

They open the est door, but just a crack, since the toher rooms on this floor were so dangerous. This room is full of swarms of tiny robot bugs. They are crawling over the pile of trash that fell into the chute a while ago, tearing it into tiny pieces.

  • Recycling Swarm
    • Consume (eats food first)
    • Fragile Swarm (immune to normal weapons, Despair to anyone covered by a swarm)
    • Group

Consistent with the poor safety standards of the rest fo the facility, there’s no barrier between the swarms of bugs and the elevator, and bugs start pouring through the crack in the door into the elevator!

Lucia Overcome 10+

Lucia quickly slams the door before many bugs make it inside, then stomps on the few that did enter. Averiela peeks through the west door. In this room, components come through the east wall and are assembled into complete robots. Three robots arefully assembled and operational.

  • 2x Killbot
    • Exterminate (Melee, Ranged, Piercing)
  • Fire Droid
    • Flamethrower (Ranged, Dangerous, Burning)
    • Fireproof (immune to heat & fire)

A Killbot shines a laser beam on Averiela’s face and says “Target acquired!” It quickly hurls throwing knives at her!

Averiela Get Away 10+ (avoid harm, avoid notice)

With inhuman Elven speed, Averiela draws the titanium alloy sword she took from the Repair Bay and cuts the throwing knives as they come through the doorway! She dodges the knife shards and kicks the door closed in the same motion.

Averiela: Dryden! Blue button!

Dryden presses the blue button and the elevator rises to the first level. Lucia thinks there may be levels above the Repair Bay. Dryden presses the blue button again. Sad beep. Looks liek the only way forward is through some variation of killer robots. Averiela has a plan.

Averiela: Here’s the thing, friends. Dear friends. I’ll call you friends for the moment. I can use camouflage to camouflage all of us like super Super Ninja Wood Elves. Or we could hollow out robots and use them as disguises.

The Fellowship decides to disguise themselves as robots using the damaged robots in the Repair Bay. It takes a while to rip out al lthe internal machinery, but soon enough Averiela is inside the shell of a Fire Droid, while the others (Dryden, Lucia, Will, and Mara) are inside Warrior Droids.

GM note: I think Knows Too Much stays in the Entrance Hall. He’s not mentioned in the rest of the session.

Back into the elevator. Green button. Elevator rotates. Insert keycard. Red button. Elevator descends to level 2. They open the north door to the room with the squad of shielded robots. The robots within don’t immediately attack, since the Fellowship looks like robots at a glance. The Fellowship enters the room. The Warrior Elite stops Averiela, since she’s the wrong kind of robot.

Averiela: Fire Droid 455678 reporting for duty as commanded. I need to know our future plans so that my fellow fire droids can fall in line.

Averiela Talk Sense (+grace, trick) (+despair, shaky disguise) 7-9

Elite Warrior: The mission is to protect the facility. Recently six unauthorized organic creatures were spotted in the elevator. Since you have access to the elevator, you must help me and my Warriors find and eliminate these intruders.

The Elite Warrior (with Phalanx Drone) and two Warrior Droids head into the elevator. The Fellowship plays along and goes into the elevator with them. They press the green button, rotating the elevator, then open the door to the room full of Recycling Swarms. The Recycling Swarms try to enter the elevator.

Drdyen: Charge!

Dryden Talk Sense (+sense, trick) (+despair shaky disguise) 7-9

The Elite Warrior and real Warrior Droids are willing to fight this new threat, but expect Dryden to come with them. He does, and they all wade into the amorphous pile of tiny robots. Dryden notices that the Recycling Swarms are puling material that they disassemble in two directions: towards holes in the south wall, and down. If there is a floor in this room, it’s completely hidden by the Recycling Swarms.  The Warrior Droids swing, but their weapons are ineffective against the Recycling Swarm. The Recycling Swarms climb on the intruders and try to disassemble them. The Phalanx Droid is destroyed trying to protect the Warrior Elite.

Recycling Swarm Fragile Swarm: Despair to anyone covered by a swarm

Dryden Overcome +despair 7-9 pay a price

The Recycling Swarm doesn’t get Dryden, but they get his disguise. The Warrior Droid’s exterior starts to crumble, and the Elite Warrior sees Dryden inside! The Warrior Elite attacks the intruder.

Dryden Get Away +despair 7-9 avoid harm

Dryden peels the crumbling robot shell off of himself, pushing the pieces towards the Recycling Swarms and the Warrior Elite, using it as a temporary shield as he rushes for the elevator. He gets inside safely. Averiela jumps out of her robot disguise, closes the door, and presses the green button, rotating the elevator. The Warrior Elite and Warrior Droids are cut off, but a Recycling Swarm has squirmed into the elevator while the door was open.

Averiela Elder Arts Camouflage: Become invisible until you attack or make yourself known

Averiela Wood Elf: hide any number of allies with you.

Averiela camouflages herself and Dryden. Lucia tries to keep the Recycling Swarm at bay.

Lucia Keep Them Busy +despair 6-

Lucia spends 1 Food

The Recycling Swarm crawls over Lucia’s robot shell and inside, snatching a ration from her pack. The Fellowship opens the door to the shielded squad and Lucia goes in. The Warrior Droids see the Recycling Swarm afflicting Lucia and try to help, but their weapons are still ineffective. Lucia moves forward to report to the Shield Commander.

Lucia: Commander, the Warrior Elite was taken out. Orders?

Lucia’s robot disguise is Clumsy: -1 to Keep Them Busy, Get Away, and Finish Them

Lucia Keep Them Busy +depair +clumsy 7-9

Lucia Sting Like A Bee: steal something small without being noticed.

Lucia steals the keycard from the Shield Commander! The Recycling Swarm breaks through her robot disguise.

Lucia Quiet! Don’t Move: duck aside and avoid notice

Lucia drops to the ground and the pieces of the robot shell fall on top of her, shielding her from the eyes of the robots. She’s undetected, but unable to retreat! Dryden pulls another gadget from behind his cloak: a mirage with substance. Back in the Forgotten Lands, he found a certain kind of pond scum. When he rubs it on his fingers and then throws it, it takes the shape of what it touched last, like a simulacram.

Dryden Prank Weapon: Keep Them Busy 10+ distract Warrior Droids

The Warrrior Droids see a figure like Dryden appear at the far side of the room and rush to attack it. Lucia considers carrying the remains of her robot shell on her back as she flees ot the elevator, to use it as a shield. That would make her Clumsy, and the shell still has a Recycling Swarm eating it, so she’d have Despair as well. She ditches the robot shell and runs for the elevator.

Lucia Get Away 10+ avoid harm, avoid attention

She reaches the elevator and jumps into the Fire Droid shell that Averiela vacated. The Shield Commander sees and attempts to rally its troops, but the Fellowship closes the elevator door and presses the blue button. They are on the first floor and no enemies are pursuing them right now. Dryden and Lucia have lost their robot disguises. The keycard that Lucia stole is inscribed with a picture of an octohedron, more complicated than a cube, so probably better access. They go back to the Repair Bay for more disguises. There are no more Warrior Droids in the Repair Bay, so Lucia and Dryden take Enforcer Droid shells. Dryden also grabs two Flying Eyes. They are about he size of baseballs with their wings folded.

Back in the elevator, the Fellowship pluts the octohedron keycard into the slot. Blue button. Sad beep. Red button. Happy beep. Red button. Happy beep. Red button Angry beep. They have access to a third level.

A map of Thaumatown robotics facility, level 1. East of the elevator, a powerplant. Six fuel tanks, fed from above by pipes, feed into a ceramic pillar. A window in the ceramic pillar glows from the fire inside. North of the elevator, a control center with windows overlooking the powerplant.
Thaumatown robotics facility, level 3.

They open the north door and enter another control room. Windows on the east wall overlook a large circular room. In the center of the room, a ceramic pillar rises from floor to ceiling. The pillar is surrounded by six large tanks, with pipes coming from the ceiling into the tanks, then from the tanks into the pillar. An opening in the pillar at floor level glows brightly. Averiela and Lucia inspect the controls.

Averiela Look Closely (+hope, Lucia aid) 10+

  • What do my senses tell me?
    • Pipes leading from the room with the Recycling Swarms feed these tanks, probably with fuel, and the tanks feed into the ceramic pillar. Since this is a powerplant, and there’s a bright glow from the opening in the pillar, the pillar is probably a combustion chamber, turning that fuel into energy.
  • Tell me about the controls.
    • There are levers to shut off the flow of fuel into the tanks, shut off the flow from the tanks to the combustion chamber, and to shut off the flow of energy from the combustion chamber.
  • What is hidden or out of place?
    • Clearly there’s a combustion chamber in the next room being fed by a lot of fuel, making a very hot fire. But most powerplants will spin turbines to generate electricity, or have driveshafts, or some other way of taking all the energy released and harnessing it. There’s no sign of such a mechanism here.

The Fellowship discuss their options. They could deactivate the powerplant. That might turn off all the killer robots above. They could also check all the other exits from the elevator. They don’t want to split up to check the other rooms because they don’t have long-range comms to stay informed.

Averiela: Dryden, work on that.

Dryden: I’ve made some progress with a system of very long strings. See, if you hold this up to your ear…

They decide to work with what they have and all pile into the elevator. There’s a wall to the south and to the west. They know the powerplant is to the east, and that seems dangerous. They return to the control center and carefully shut down the powerplant. First they shut off the flow of fuel into the tanks. Status lights update, but looking through the window does not reveal any immediate change from the powerplant. Next they shut off the flow from the tanks to the combustion chamber. The glow from the opening in the pillar fades and disappears. Finally they shut off the flow of energy from the combustion chamber. Again, no obvious change in the powerplant.

They etner the elevator, press the green button to rotate the doors, then enter the powerplant. The air is cool. The opening in the ceramic pillar is covered by a Magical Barrier.

  • Magical Barrier
    • Impenetrable (can’t be damaged)
    • Some Shall Pass (certain things/people are allowed through)

Dryden test the barrier by throwing a Flying Eye at it. The Flying Eye goes right through the Magical Barrier. Averiela in the Fire Droid disguise tries to enter. She passes through the Magical Barrier into the ceramic cylinder.

  • Fire Droid
    • Fireproof (immune to heat & fire)
  • Combustion Chamber
    • High Radiation (extreme heat. Pay a Price to enter or make a move)

Averiela doesn’t notice the heat. She looks around inside the pilalr and sees the pipes from the tanks leading into this chamber. There’s a floor for her to walk on, and a ceiling at the top of the pillar. Only entrances. No exits. She kicks a pile of unburned sludge and finds a piece of Lucia’s lunch.  The Recycling Swarms separate fuel from the garbage (and droids) they disassemble and send it to this powerplant.  Dryden enters the combustion chamber in his Enforcer Droid disguise. It’s so hot in here!  He drops his second Flying Eye and retreats.

Lucia doesn’t understand how this powerplant works, and examines everything one more time.

Lucia Look Closely 10+

GM note: This was just a problem of me not describing the situation properly.  There was indeed a path for the energy to exit the combustion chamber. It went down, but, the lever that shut off the flow of energy closed that exit. The floor of the combustion chamber was a moveable piece of machinery.

Now that the Fellowship understands how the room works, they return to the control center and open the exit from the combustion chamber. They return to the powerplant and Averiela enters the chamber again. There’s a big hole through the floor to the ceiling of a room below. That room is about 20 feet tall, and there’s a large ceramic bowl on the floor of that room. The diameter of the bowl matches the diameter of the hole above. In the center of that bowl floats a strange artifact: the Artifact of Power that the Fellowship seeks! It looks like unnumerable windows, overlapping and shifting. There’s also a creature in the lower room, leaning over the edge of the bowl and looking up at Averiela.

A Rogue Construct, an artifical creature of aether and energy. Most of its body is crackling puple energy ,but it has a golden mask for a face, hands that turn into sharp claws, and a ssingle metal spike instead of feet.
The Rogue Construct
  • Rogue Construct
    • The Robot (does not eat, sleep, or breathe)
    • Just Like You (copies the Construct player character)
      • Wrist blades (Melee, Piercing)
      • Glide
      • Riding Pod
      • Talisman of Calling
      • Teleportation (1 use)
    • Iron Heart (damage as Hard Cuts)

GM note: Fortunately for you, he has no ranged weapons. Oh, wait, he can teleport.

The Rogue Construct teleports up next to Averiela and demands to know why she is there and why the powerplant is turned off.

Averiela: Command came down from above. Fudnign has been reallocated. We’re relocating this entire facility. Can you help us prepare the energy source for transport?

GM note: Usually Averiela would trigger Talk Sense, but Rogue Construct already knows she’s lying. First, it’s not like the other robots. It’s smarter, so Averiela’s disguise isn’t as convincing. More importantly, with the power plant offline, no robot in Thaumatown has power! Any robot still moving must be a fake!

Rogue Construct: How are you still moving when the power’s off?

Rogue Construct tears the Fire Droid shell open, revealing Averiela within. She’s exposed to the intense heat of the combustion chamber!

Averiela damages Wisdom

Averiela tries to flee, but the Magical Barrier stops her! Only robots are allowed to pass through.

GM note: Twice in a row that I didn’t let Averiela’s player roll. Ouch!

Averiela quickly changes direction and dives through the hole to the chamber below. The Rogue Construct follows her down. Lucia and Dryden rush to her aid, braving the intense heat in the combustion chamber.

Dryden pays a price by spending 1 Food

Lucia pays a price by damaging her Forgotten Lands power to detect evil

To avoid the big drop, Dryden fires his Ranged Rope from one side fo the hole to he other side of the bowl, so they can slide down at an angle.

Rogue Construct, Averiela, Dryden (in Enforcer Droid disguise), and Lucia (in Enforcer Droid disguise) are all in the final room of the facility with the Artifact of Power that is everyone’s goal!

GM note: We ran out of time and had to stop here! So close to the end! I designed this facility to be really dangerous. Someone could have fallen through the chute from the repair bay into the Recycling Swarms, then again into the power plant fuel tanks. The facility is full of dangerous robots that are hard to kill. More are being built.  The Fellowship didn’t directly attack any of the robots, and turned off most of the dangerous machines. Leaving the powerplant operational and taking the Artifact, or shutting down the powerplant incorrectly, could have blown up the whole facility. But my players took the safe and clever option at every step and are near their goal after taking only 1 point of damage!