aye aye captain

Pathfinder: The Mummy's Mask : Moist

Zenobia: Do the psychopomps seem annoyed about us nearly accidentally killing them in that fight?
Nemat: They don’t have faces, it’s not easy to tell.
Zenobia: They have middle fingers.

Hopefully we won’t run into these particular psychopomps when we eventually die - that could be awkward.

Nemat: You have to feel sorry for Anubis now that Pharasma is the god of death. She probably calls him ‘Noob’.
Onka: ‘Please, you’re a goddess, act like one’
Nemat: ‘Aw, does someone want a bellyrub?’

Nemat: The whole point of these boats is to do a non-linear dungeon in a linear fashion.
GM: You paid to get railroaded.

The GM describes an apparently innocuous room.

Asrian OoC: I detect a ‘but’ coming up.
GM: A big but.
Zenobia OoC: And I cannot lie.

It is, of course, set up as an elaborate trap. Which we can avoid by going through the wall. It turns out the chamber beyond is yet another memorial to somebody who tried to stage a coup against Hakotep - two brothers who only failed because they got too distracted arguing about which of them should be crowned afterwards. We’re supposed to decide who deserved it - which is obviously another trap. Of course, the entire level is a trap - most parties would have entered this crypt first, and thus faced the banshee etc a few experience levels earlier. And our precautions would have made us immune to this trap anyway.

The boats split us up, going down different tunnels.

GM: You’ve got time-
Zenobia: For a quick snog?
Asrian: Now is not the time, dear.

There’s a few statues with gems inside their fanged maws.

Zenobia: It’s like they never heard of Mage Hand.

Or, for that matter, Immovable Rods. Or maybe they did, because it’s another Phantom Trap. Although given the grinding noises elsewhere in the crypt, they appear to control SOMETHING down here. Possibly opening the door for a giant undead crocodile, or similar. But then we can use Control Water to drain the entire next section of the crypt.

Nemat: Never fight on their terms.
Onka: ‘That undead shark looks very unhappy. And we’re flying over it anyway.’

The thing that IS in here looks a bit perturbed that we removed all its advantages. We’re more shocked that Nemat doesn’t recognise whatever it is. Onka recognises it as a kind of aquatic Div.

Onka: It’s a Div - where’s Asri- oh, she’s attacking it already.

Asrian really, really does not like Divs.

Nemat: We don’t need to fight him - he’s going to suffocate.

And if he’s Bound to the room, he can’t even flee to where there IS water. In the end it doesn’t matter - Nemat Dismisses it back to its home plane before Asrian can decapitate it, or Zenobia throw a Tangleburn Bag at it.

We do the usual - sabotage the control pyramid and crash the rest of Hakotep’s flying pyramid fleet, and bug out. It's time to go after the Forgotten Pharoah, Hakotep I, himself.
aye aye captain

Champions : Return to Edge City : The Landscaper Caper

Last session we prevented the kidnapping of an oddly-fireproof landscape gardener.

Flux: We’ll keep an eye on her, in case there are shenanigans.
Hero Shrew: No shenanigans in this town. Unless we’re responsible.

Of course, we blunder into so many shenanigans it’s amazing we’re not in a Pokemon episode. Although that idea does have us complaining about the completely insane economy in the Pokemon universe, and the question of where they get their meat from. It’s from Pokemon.

GM: Farfetch’d carries his own garnish, for crying out loud.

The cybernetically enhanced canines are about 18 months old, but despite being intelligent enough to talk probably aren’t Steiner’s work - the upgrades are too crude.

Hardlight: You rescued Landscaper? Funny name for a superhero.
Fireflash: No, an actual landscaper.
Hardlight: Why were you rescuing a landscaper?
Flux: Why wouldn’t we, they’re worth rescuing.
Hardlight: Indeed, it’s not like she was a lawyer.
Fireflash: ….. Or an accountant?
Flux: Hey, accountants are worth rescuing, they know where all the money is… I know she’s giving me A Look, I can hear it.

Oddly enough, the cars that the bad guys were stacking were stacked very nearly indeed. Minimal damage, which is impressive for somebody wearing powered armour. Most of the cars in the pile are shiny and new. It's also impressive that he managed to lift an older car that was notorious for outweighing a lot of trucks. That was no standard powered suit.

Flux: I’m surprised the other cars aren’t flat.
GM: Oh, it was on the bottom of the stack.
Flux: Well thank god for that.

In fact, Hardlight’s scan of the pile reveals that the Grubecker has been heavily modified, and is even HEAVIER than it was originally. Checking with the police reveals that the vehicle was once involved in a super fight, and had its density permanently altered, and was reinforced further afterwards. Whoever owns it owns a piece of superhero history, but also must have an appalling petrol bill. Whoever was wearing that Rumblesuit has strength that rivals superhumans. And one of them was apparently using plasma technology when they set the landscaper’s apartment on fire. And their armour is a sophisticated ceramic.

Hero Shrew: We can always ask our contacts in Dysprosium Dawn if they know who’s working on technology like this.
GM: It always amuses me when you think you have a good relationship with Dysprosium Dawn.
Fireflash OoC: We don’t.
Flux OoC: We just shake them down for information sometimes.
GM: Or they decide it’s easier to get us to do the hard work.

We should probably have a look in the empty house across the street, where the cyberdogs came from. Apparently they dug their way up from an underground utility tunnel, and spent a few days watching the landscaper’s home and planning the kidnapping. There’s definitely something they knew about the landscaper that they know and we don’t. We should go keep an eye on her, at least while she’s being kept for observation at the hospital. The veterinary cybernetics angle is also worth investigating - some of the upgrades to those cyberpuppies, like the hemoglobin and retinal variants, are very new.

Fireflash: We should visit them, as a group.
Hero Shrew: Oh?
Flux: Must... resist… spaying and neutering joke…
GM: To be fair, it’s not thinking with that head that gets him in trouble.

Finding out who the cyberpuppies originally belonged to is more difficult - their microchips were removed, probably at the same time they had a bunch more added. Although six Dobermans going missing should have come to somebody’s notice.

GM: You attract some attention at the Laguna Complex, probably because you’re a pretty well-known superteam now, and you’re with that new guy.
The Magus: I have a sudden urge to show up with a different face every week.
Flux: Don’t, or you won’t get into our base.
GM: Facial recognition tech makes no sense in a setting with shapechangers.

The vet agrees that the six dogs should have been chipped - it’s certainly a legal requirement in California - but if they’re going to sic them on a team of superheroes to cover their escape it’s unlikely the perps were very concerned about chipping laws. And the address is a fake.

On the other hand, the vet has done the same modifications to a pair of pitbulls, for the same people, and we didn’t see any pitbulls earlier.

Hero Shrew: Well, at least we have something in our favour - they don’t let dogs into hospitals.
Hardlight: Remind me to get a sticker for Scooter - ‘Emotional Support Moreau’
Flux: That is unimaginably racist.
Hero Shrew: And I’m not good for anybody’s emotions!

Tracking down where the perps got the money for the operations is going to take longer. We do get one address and name in Marsden, which we connect to one Rumble, who we last heard of during the thing between the Booster and Juicer gangs. This latest escapade DOES seem like something he’d get involved in. He certainly loves his cybernetics, as his police record confirms. On the other hand, nobody has seen him since the Juicer exodus.

New Occupant: You think he might still be alive? That B**tard owes me $500!
Fireflash: If we find him, we’ll be sure to let him know.

The creditor in question lets us search the house for any items we can use to track him down - old hair brushes etc have been thrown out, unfortunately, but we DO find a small package stashed in an air vent, containing an earlier FreeWeb device and memory chips. But Flux can confirm the device never connected to a network, ever. And the chips are encrypted.

It’s probably a bad idea for Scooter to hang around the hospital - as the others keep telling him, he’s the most conspicuous member of the team, at least since Allana eft, and Allana at least had two major distractions.

Hero Shrew:*sigh*I just want to be useful.

Flux and the Magus working together to create a tracking spell to locate Rumble will probably be more useful - they certainly have an ample supply of crystallised chicken blood. Hero Shrew is driving the mages around town as we try to triangulate on a moving target, when a woman jumps out of an upstairs window. She’s probably just as surprised when we all pile out of the Qruiser. But not as much as those power-armoured goons that emerge after her. At least that makes it more likely that Rumble is one of the goons we’re after. The other two, apparently, are codenamed Pillage and Takedown. The former has a deadly plasma field, and the later an assortment of entangling and stunning weaponry, at the very least.

The usual exchange-of-multicoloured-light-until-somebody-wins ensues. One of the Magus’ spells is apparently called Sugar Crash, and is as dangerous as it implies, and would be better described as Hypogylcemic Shock. Scooter leaps into the fray, and overshoots so badly he gets intercepted mid-air by Rumble.

Hero Shrew OoC: I hesitate to compare him to a Patriot missile.

Hero Shrew gets punched most of the way back up to the Qruiser. And then the woman that’s the focus of all this attention throws Scooter straight back into the fray. Scooter is rather shocked to find himself neatly placed right in the middle of the street.

Fireflash: Yeet!
GM: This ability is called Get Back In There!

Hero Shrew: So, this one is called Takedown? Nice that he comes with instructions.*leaps into the air and suplexes the guy several yards into the pavement*

Rumble does some swift calculations of his new odds, especially since his other colleague is semiconscious with his plasma sheath burning a hole in the ground, and surrenders.

Rumble: I give.*lands on roof, which collapses under the weight of his armour*
Hero Shrew: You owe your old flatmate $500.

The woman, Tanya, insists she’s fine, despite the fact she jumped from a second-storey window, and claims to have no idea why the goons tried to kidnap her, less than a day after they tried to kidnap the other woman.

The Magus: I can’t fault their work ethic

Fireflash: Why are you after this woman?
Rumble: Takedown said to.
All:*look at the crater with unconscious goon*

Flux: Is that your house, or are you going to have problems?
Tanya: It will be fine, I have understanding with landlord - he does not cause me trouble, I do not crush his head like swallow’s egg.

The Magus: Do you want me to wake him up, now we have him out of his armour?
Hero Shrew: And if we need to we’ll put him back in the armour and I’ll suplex him again.
GM: That would be against police procedures.

Cyberkinetically interrogating their brain implants is legally dubious too - but nothing stops Flux ransacking their powersuits for useful information. Which helpfully includes files on their two targets - the landscaper, apparently, is a minor hydrokineticist. And Tanya apparently has high-end low-profile military cybernetics. The files also list Tanya as being of possible interest to The Cabal, but doesn’t say which group calling itself a cabal that refers to. But according to Rumble, the Cabal supplied the powersuits, tailored to their proportions. They’d even told Takedown that they’d need somebody like Rumble to do the job.

Flux realises that the Cabal must be a new faction in Dysprosium Dawn.

Flux:*sigh* We leave them alone after the zombie thing and they start making powersuits.
GM: To be fair they weren’t responsible for the zombies - there were responsible for AUGMENTING the zombies.

It also seems likely that the suits were specifically designed to counter our team - it's just their bad luck that we didn’t pair off the way they predicted we would. We might not be much closer to figuring out why these particular women were targeted, but we may have stopped an incipient supervillain group getting started.
aye aye captain

Champions : Return to Edge City : Bad Doggy

Scooter has been doing some charity work to occupy his time and improve his reputation - mostly in the construction part of things.

Hero Shrew: Habitats for Inhumanity.

At least the construction industry in Edge City isn’t as hostile towards the superstrong as it is in other parts of the country. And there’s always an orphanage that needs building somewhere.

Hero Shrew: Just doing my bit to support the sidekick industry.
The Rep: I need to put a muzzle on my client. We’d cop less flak having him muzzled then we do if we don’t.

But it looks like there’s going to be a need for more construction in the near future, since a trio of guys in powered armour are trashing a building and stacking cars on the other side of town.

The Magus uses Dark Majesty to try and intimidate the antagonists. It does more to unnerve Flux.

The Magus: Morning All. Are you REALLY sure this is what you want to be doing? It hasn’t worked for anybody else.
Bad Guy P: Uh. Um? Could you stop the fire spreading too far, please?

It would appear that the damage he’s been doing is his attempt to stop the fire he started from spreading to the rest of the city block.


There are now a half-dozen cybernetic attack dogs to complicate the next few minutes.

Hero Shrew: Is PETA likely to complain if we do the same thing to cyber-mastiffs that we do to the usual villains?

Admittedly, flinging them around in a residential neighbourhood presents all kinds of different problems. The bad guys attempt to flee, hoping the hounds will keep us occupied.

Bad Guy: Later people, Elvis has left the building.

GM: No matter what happens, the Rep loves Magus.
The Magus: Because it’s much simpler to spin stuff when we’re invisible to cameras.

Scooter manages to leap right through a brick wall.

Hero Shrew: That’s unfortunate - because I wasn’t actually meaning to do that, this time.
Little Old Lady Inside The Building: Tea? *privately thinking ‘This f***ing city’*

The cyber-mastiffs really were a very good distraction - a genuine threat to any civilians that came out to see what was happening in the neighborhood. It’s just as well we dealt with them all before anybody could get bitten in half. It’s also just as well that the Magus spent most of the fight putting the fire out, because there’s a person in a steel net inside the building.

GM: It’s probably why the bad guys were trying so hard to put the fire out when you arrived ‘S*** s*** S***, we’re supposed to be catching this person alive’.

The woman in question is a landscaper, and has no idea why any supervillains would want to kidnap her.

Hero Shrew: Just as well we showed up when we did, then. And put the fire out too, of course.

Although it IS slightly odd that she wasn’t even singed in the out-of-control fire.

Hero Shrew: Well, we should have you checked out by the paramedics when they get here. We don’t want to find out you had smoke inhalation and die of an asthma attack overnight.
Jadwiga Jaworski: *nods vigorously* Yes, we don’t want that.

We wait for the police, firefighters, and animal control to arrive.

Cyber-mastiff: Good Girl? I’m a Good Girl.
Flux: .... Now I feel bad. I just punted one through a fence and into a tree.

The enhanced attack dogs are three male and three female. By coincidence it was the males that went after the Magus.

Hero Shrew: Clearly they know who the biggest bitch in the party is.
Flux: ...the one day Hardlight isn’t here.

Scooter, on the other hand, dealt with the other three.

GM: He did a lot of bitch-slapping.
aye aye captain

Champions : Return To Edge City - Whacking Day

Hardlight OoC: Why didn’t any of us get the Magus’ contact details?
Hero Shrew OoC: We didn’t realise he was a PC

Hero Shrew: Maybe we need to project the Magus-signal on some low clouds?
GM: And what exactly is the Magus-Signal?
Hero Shrew: A searchlight with a big ‘M’?

A few days later the Shrew-Computer alerts us to break-ins at Saints Row and Peon Place, hangouts of two gangs we haven’t interacted with much.

Hero Shrew: *surfaces from a pile of BugBurgr wrappers* H-wuh?

Hardlight: To the Qruiser!

He’s quite pleased that he gets to use the holographic lights and sirens on the Qruiser.

Hardlight: Whee-OOOOwhee-OOOOwhee *etc*

GM: I still have no idea how to involve the Magus in this.
Flux OoC: Just pull the Coincidence Lever, he happened to be nearby.

There are a bunch of likely bad guys, in distinctive green and gold armour.

The Magus: It's like the Australian Cricket Team, gone bad.

Hero Shrew: So, do these guys have to worry about Testicular Irradiation?
Fireflash: No, they don’t use that shield technology anymore.
The Magus: Not that they’ve been informed. ‘My nuts feel warm, do your nuts feel warm?’
VIPER technician: That’s our new Nutwarmer Technology, don’t worry about it.
Hardlight: And some VIPER mad scientist is crowing about his plan to make sure all VIPER members have serpentine children, and how it’s finally complete.
Fireflash: Actually, that DOES sound like something VIPER would do.

Hero Shrew: If anybody happens to spot the vehicle they came in, let me know and I’ll flip it.
Flux: How will we know it was their vehicle?
Hero Shrew: It’ll be the one that’s advertising something snake-related on the side.

Collapse )
aye aye captain

Pathfinder : The Mummy's Mask - The Floor Is Lava

The Path of Fire naturally includes some lethal conditions and cunning traps, some of which we only avoid by being paranoid f***ers.

Onka: We push the iron golems, they slide into the lava, and they’re not a problem anymore.
Zenobia: Until they climb back out now glowing with a red heat.

Zenobia: Note for the future - don’t be on this level when we crash the pyramid.

Zenobia: Asrian wait - even if we free these slaves, how do we get them past the lava?
Asrian: We fly them out, swiftly.
Zenobia: … Good point.
Onka: We’re going to leave them outside?
Zenobia: With the giant scorpions?
Nemat: One problem at a time!

Onka: I hope this isn’t another one of those ‘screw with good people’ traps because those are starting to s*** me.

Nemat: They’re all dead.
Zenobia: *looking down at the one I’m trying to feed water to* But we were only in here two minutes!
Asrian OoC: They’re all dead, Dave.

And another trap requires a depth of knowledge about ancient artificers guilds.

Zenobia OoC: Who would have guessed that watching so many episodes of Antiques Roadshow would be useful.

Asrian has to disable room after room of traps.

Asrian: I’m good, I’m good.
Zenobia: As far as I’m concerned you’re perfect.

GM: Just give me a moment to grab some popcorn.
Nemat OoC: Well THAT doesn’t bode well.

Collapse )
aye aye captain

#1684-1692 - Southwest Spider Orchids

#1684 - Caladenia procera - Carbunup King Spider Orchid

Happily, travel restrictions inside Western Australia were lifted soon enough that the WA Naturalists Club weekend trip to the Yallingup area could still go ahead. So we got to see a really nice selection of species, such as this Carbunup King, one of the tallest and largest Spider Orchids.

Caladenia procera is critically endangered, currently known from a linear range of less than 15 km to the south-west of Busselton, where it grows in Jarrah, Marri and Peppermint woodland on alluvial sandy-clay loam flats with Anigozanthos manglesii, but also from a disjunct occurrence some 70 km north near Kemerton. The geodata for the species on iNaturalist is deliberately obscured, to protect them from disturbance, but since they were doing remarkably well in the drain beside the road, and along the well worn footpaths in this particular tiny area of remnant woodland, they would seem to be tolerant of minor disturbance. Having most of the countryside clear-cut for paddocks, and the rest burnt at the wrong time of year, is not minor disturbance.

#1685 - Caladenia ferruginea - Rusty Spider Orchid

A much less endangered orchid than the Carbunup King, but only because there are more areas of surviving bushland between Perth and Albany, and it grows in a wider range of habitat,  ranging from well-drained soil in woodlands to swamps which are flooded in winter

Collapse )
aye aye captain

#1682-1683 - Hepialid Moths

#1682 - Oxycanus determinata

A quite rare mid-sized Hepialid, only found in coastal vegatation in parts of Western Australia. Apparently my photos are the only record of the species on iNaturalist or the Atlas of Living Australia.

Wannanup, south of Perth

#1683 - Fraus sp. - Primitive Ghost Moth

A smaller Hepialid species, from a genus with a number of undescribed species. Most of them feed on grasses and sedges as larvae, as far as I can determine, and at least one species is a pasture pest

Wellard, Perth

aye aye captain

#1681 - Phytolacca sp. - Pokeweed


Also known as pokeberry, pokebush, pokeroot, and inkberry

There’s between 25 and 35 described species in the genus, and a few are tree sized. They’re native to the Americas and East Asia, but at least 5 species are weeds in Australia. One species is an invasive weed in the Pacific Northwest. 

A related species has been found in fossils from the Upper Cretaceous. 

The leaves of one species are used in poke salat in the American South, which is a bit weird since every part of the plant is quite poisonous. 

aye aye captain

#1676-1679 - Various

#1676 - Chlenias sp.

A Geometrid caterpillar genus with a wide diet, including many native and introduced species. This one was one of hundreds strolling aimlessly around the footpath, bare sand and walls at a job in Halls Head, Perth. More were busy reducing the kerbside shrubs to even more ragged than they already were, although I’m not sure what species the shrub were, or exactly which Chlenias this is.

#1677 - Fam. Scatopsidae - Minute Black Scavenger Flies

Also known as Dung Midges. Spotted on a ‘Geraldton Carnation’ (Euphorbia terracina).

A small family of about 250 known species, which has been around since at least the Cretaceous. The larvae for most species are unknown, but the ones that are are saprophages, found in decaying plant and animal matter.

Collapse )