This recap will be a spoiler for the short adventure The
Factory, available on DriveThruRPG.
Faced with a plethora of political problems at home, our
stalwart heroes choose the better part of valour - and flee into the wild in
search of adventure, leaving their cleric and five archers to guard their
They have a ship now and they mean to use it. Strapped for
cash to fund the infrastructure development of their new county, they set off for
the fabled Gold Coast in search of sweet, sweet mercenary wages. Travelling by
sea is safer than travelling by land on the World of Prime because the ocean is
an empty place (encounter checks are made half as often). Their very first day,
however, is the exception that proves the rule.
As the sun begins to sink and the captain begins to search for
a likely cove to anchor for the night. There is no sailing after dark here; the
dangers of unseen reefs and shoals is too great close to shore, and the danger
of getting lost is too great further out. Prime does not have a moon, but it
has so many stars that the average night is as illuminated as a full moon. This
makes navigation by the stars impossible, so most vessels are coast-huggers
unless they have magic or a superlative captain.
His search is interrupted when a tentacle flops onto the
deck, grabbing a crewman by the ankle. More tentacles follow and the party
leaps into action.
The foe – a giant octopus – is merely searching for dinner.
It grabs several crewmen and begins battering them against the deck, unwilling
to drag anything still moving into its maw. It lashes out at the barbarian, who
promptly severs a tentacle. The ranger also charges into the fray but with his usual
luck with dice we need not concern our narrative with him for the rest of the
battle. The druid tries magic but the animal is too hungry to be calmed.
One of the sailors has gone limp and is dragged overboard.
The barbarian frees another by hewing through a tentacle; the octopus grabs three
more. The druid sensibly ties a rope around his waist, anchored on the mast,
before going to fight a grabby beast. The bard trusts to his nimble feet and
lays too with his halberd. Another sailor is knocked unconscious and disappears
over the edge.
The barbarian pushes past the tentacles and leans over the
edge of the ship to attack the huge, rubbery body of the beast, stabbing
fiercely. The druid summons flame to his hand – prompting a Will save on the
part of the crew to not douse him with a bucket – and starts trying to free
sailors from the sucker grasp of death. He and the bard succeed in severing two
more tentacles and the creature withdraws. The party has now traded two sailors
for a large pile of fresh calamari. This is not a good bargain but they make the
best of it as the bard slices off rings and spices them while the druid roasts
them over his open hand.
On shore they break out the grog as a morale booster for the
men, passing a bottle of rum around their campfire. The bard is suddenly disturbed
to realize that the fellow who takes the bottle from him has horns, goat feet,
and far too much fur. A band of satyrs have stealthily joined the party, drawn
by the smell of alcohol. They are boisterous and quite friendly, at least until
the ranger cuts off the flow of booze.
As they grumpily prepare to take their leave, one of them
notices the barbarian’s masterwork greatsword and asks him how he got it. The
barbarian says he won in a duel, to which the satyrs respond with evident
“You mean, one on one? You beat the guardian mano a mano?”
When the barbarian nods agreement, apparently having mistaken “guardian” for “Ser
Branford” (to be fair, he had been drinking too), the satyrs explode with glee.
“The gang will want to hear this. You have to come with us!”
They plead with the party until the suspicious ranger finally
relents, and the four heroes follow a group of drunken goat-men into the darkness,
never to be seen again.
Next week we’ll start a new – oh, wait, that’s not what
After a short journey they come to a glade inhabited by a
tribe of grigs (two foot tall fey with an Irish accent). The grigs are none too happy
with the surprise guests; after all, the satyrs drink enough on their own. But
when they see the sword and hear the tale of how it was won in single combat,
they are just as excited as the satyrs.
“This could be our chance to finally smash the factory!” one
them exclaims. “And thus the end of Grubazor and his evil plans!” cries another.
The barbarian notices that the grigs are themselves all
sporting masterwork greatswords, though on a scale of only a few inches long.
The party interrogates the grigs as best they can, though fey are notoriously
inexact when talking about mundane details. They uncover that there is a magical
factory that produces greatswords, and that some ogerish “big folk” creature
named Grubazor wants to seize it to his own ends. They are opposed to this; it
is the tribe’s sacred duty to either destroy the factory or at least see that
its weapons of destruction are not loosed upon the world.
When the ranger notes the quality of their many tiny swords
implies these too are products of the factory, they change the subject. Their
leader strikes up a merry jig on a tiny fiddle, causing the satyrs to
immediately form a mosh pit. Tiny bottles of wine are emptied and a good time
is had by all, until the ranger, once again the voice of sober adulthood,
compels the party to return to their boat and reassure their sailors. They promise
to return in the morning, hoping to resolve the mystery of what the heck the
grigs were talking about.
However, the morning finds more complications. They set out
with a squad of marines but a handsome, exceedingly tall blue-haired man
intercepts them before they reach the grig glade. He looks over the party and
likes what he sees enough to offer them a job. There’s a band of grigs,
apparently, that are standing in the way of Industrial Progress and his plans
to raise an army of greatsword wielding warriors. The party, deeply suspicious
of Grubazor because his appearance does not quite match what the grigs had lead
them to expect, decide that he must be under a disguise spell. One by one they manufacture
an excuse to shake his hand, clap him on the back, or perform a mighty
fist-bump. The end of their investigation is a few bruises – Grubazor responds
to a hearty slap on the back with a clubbing blow that would kill a sheep,
though apparently without any malice on his part – and no new information.
Grubazor asks them their price. The barbarian shouts out a
large sum – 5,000 gold! Grubazor considers it and then agrees, causing
the barbarian to realize he’d started too low. They follow Grubazor through the
forest to a small open patch where a series of animated machines are busily
cold-forging a sword. There was once a building here, and indeed an entire
city, but all of that has faded away from the ravages of time, leaving only
this self-contained automated assembly line.
The factory is not unoccupied, however. The mysterious guardian
finally makes its appearance. And it appears as nine-foot tall bronze and
marble statue of a blocky man-shape in full armor. However, it is not the factory
that is the target of its protection, but rather the Frankenstienian monster
wandering around the machines as the work. A flesh golem, grotesque beyond measure, seems to treat the factory like its home.
While the party watches the machines
complete their task, falling quiet as a gleaming sword falls out of the assembly
line at the end. The flesh golem picks up the sword, ambles back to the start
of the line, and drops it into a hopper. Immediately the sword is mangled into a
mere slab of iron, the machines rumble into life, and the entire process starts
“What a waste,” Grubazor says, shaking his head.
The party inquires what would happen if one were to dart out
and grab the completed sword before the flesh golem recycled it.
“You’d get your arms ripped off,” he replies. “At least,
that’s what happened when I got this sword,” indicating the blade he wears
across his back.
The party looks at him with surprise. “Well,” he clarifies, “not
The party proceeds to devising some manner of destroying the
rather fearsome guardians of the place. While they are debating the depth of
the pit that would be required to subdue the creatures, and also the small
matter of who would dig said pit (with many side-eyed looks at the squad of
marines), a troll comes bounding out of the woods at them, slavering manically.
The party bursts into flight, cleverly moving so as to draw
the creature through the factory and thus trigger the guardians on its head.
The troll does not take their bait; instead, it leaps on Grubazor and bites his
Grubazor responds by punching the troll repeatedly and shouting,
“Down, Kato!” Eventually it kneels at his feet, whining. The party returns,
somewhat concerned by the fact that Grubazor appears to be none the worse for
wear despite having worn troll fangs all over his face just a moment ago. They
are also none to happy to discover that their erstwhile employer has a pet
troll. In their book that’s pretty much proof of playing for Team Evil.
Nonetheless they hatch a decent plan. If Grubazor and the
troll can keep the guardian occupied, they will endeavour to destroy the flesh
golem, on the theory that once it is dead the guardian will cease to function.
This fits with what they know of arcane science, though at this point they are
really missing their wizard or even their cleric (both of whom have missed
the last few sessions). They bemoan their lack of magical attacks until bardic
knowledge assures them that the golem and guardian are immune to magic anyway.
But all is not ready. A harpy swoops down to land in a tree
and opens a bag of pine nuts. She’s waiting for the fun to start so she can
enjoy the show. There are more arrivals when the grig tribe and their satyr
allies appear on the other side of the clearing.
The ranger goes over to talk to them. They are openly
dismayed that the party seems to be working for Grubazor, but the ranger
assures them the party intends to double-cross Grubazor the instant the flesh
golem is destroyed. (This guy seems pretty flexible about his hiring
arrangements, you know?). The grigs agree to send in a squad of flying
dagger-men to help.
Now that the plan is fully in place, they spell up, take
their positions, and charge to the attack. The troll goes in first, jumping on
the guardian in an impressive flurry of claws and fangs. The barbarian dashes
to the flesh golem and slices into it with a mighty blow (he has so many bonuses
on him right now that it takes the party a minute to add them all up). The
marines assist him in combat, the bard summons images and moves to attack, and
the ranger does his usual terrible dice rolling. A squad of grigs flitters
about the flesh golem’s head, doing surprisingly little damage despite their tiny
sharp swords. Then Grubazor swings his mighty great-sword against the guardian…
but it blocks his strike with a stony fist.
Now the creatures react to the onslaught with their own. The
guardian jackhammers the troll in the face, both arms pumping like pistons,
while the flesh golem swings its meaty arms wildly, knocking the stuffing out
of the barbarian.
The druid decides its time to break out the big guns.
Convinced that the flesh golem is massive enough to occupy the attention of an
entire swarm, he calls spiders out of the ground. For once this is not a
fight-ending move; the golem is immune to the various nauseas and poisons of
the swarm and its damage, even when boosted by his feats, remains in the
single-dice range. Mostly it serves to drive the grigs off for fear of being
eaten alive, and they cast no shortage of nasty looks in the druid’s direction.
The barbarian continues to trade blows with the golem. He
deals out a ton of damage but the thing seems nigh-indestructible. Worse, its
return strikes are crushing, and though the guardian doesn’t hit as hard, it
never seems to miss. The bard breaks off his attacks to act as emergency healer for the
barbarian when the druid runs out of spells; this turns out to be the
difference between life and death as the golem’s next strike reduces the
barbarian to negatives.
After only three rounds the troll is reduced to a pile of
green paste. Grubazor now faces the guardian without allies, and while
his sword is deadly, the monster is visibly repairing itself even as it fights.
He is taking mighty blows to the face faster than he is dealing them out. The
barbarian gets back on his feet and strikes at the flesh golem; the swarm
retreats into the ground allowing the grigs to fly back in and the satyrs to
charge the flesh golem like bowling balls only to bounce off with minor effect;
then the golem strikes back, driving the barbarian into the ground again and catching
the ranger with a haymaker. The druid, driven to desperation, summons flame and
moves into combat range, his life flashing before his eyes.
The situation is so dire the party, normally tight-fisted as
a Scotsman on a French vacation, resorts to expensive healing potions. This
gets the barbarian back on his feet just in time to deliver the killing blow –
the golem falls!
Immediately the guardian grinds to a halt. But before anyone
can so much as let out a cheer, Grubazor makes his move – catching most of the
party, half of the grig tribe, and all of the satyrs in a freezing cone of ice.
This spares the party the shame of backstabbing a battlefield ally, because he
backstabbed them first, but the bard and barbarian are now unconscious, leaving
the ranger with a handful of hit-points and the druid with a handful of fire to
face their new foe, an eight-foot tall horned blue ogre magi. At some point in
the fight he resumed his true form, though everyone was too busy to notice.
However, Grubazor has been incautious. His spell has caught
the guardian in its effect. And while the spell does no damage to the creature,
it still interprets it as an attack. It resumes jackhammering his face and the
ogre falls to the ground.
Immediately the squad of marines pounces on his corpse,
stabbing like mad. The ranger takes a shot with his bow, totally unconvinced
that just because the ogre is on the ground means the fight is over. And his
suspicion is for once entirely appropriate; the next round, Grubazor rises to
his feet again. The troll is also reforming; apparently everything here except
our heroes and their allies regenerates. And worse, the guardian has gone still,
reset to pacificism after having defeated its attacker.
But the ranger delivers in the end, putting an arrow through
Grubazor’s throat. The druid leaps into action, tossing flame at the two fallen
bodies until all signs of unnatural life are extinguished.
“Well done,” says a sweet voice, “though I am sorry the show
is over. Still, I’ll take the spoils.” The harpy, all but forgotten, has merely
been waiting for the right moment.
The ranger covers his ears, remembering too well how dangerous
these creatures are, but for once our party is saved by their alliances. The grig
chieftain breaks out his fiddle, sending most of the satyrs into a mad dance
(which is unfortunate, as they were at exactly zero hit-points and hence this
sudden exertion causes them to collapse from injury). The harpy counters with
her song for a stalemate. Then the sole remaining satyr plays his pipes, causing fear to
all who do not dance on goat hooves. This drives off everyone but the ranger.
When the druid finally comes creeping out of the woods, the spell exhausted, he
finds the ranger on guard with his bow while the grigs take turns stabbing the
burnt corpses and striking heroic poses.
The druid gathers the tael from their fallen foes, his eyes
agog from their sudden wealth. These were powerful creatures and the reward is
correspondingly great. Uncharacteristically, the druid is slow to loot the
corpses for mundane treasure, and only notices that the grigs have helped themselves
to a crystal earring after it’s too late, one of them adding it to his vest as
a button. The earring, of course, is worth a pittance… but its faint purple
glow hints at more. The party hastily assembles all the gemstones it has, which
consist of a single crystal each from the early days in the dungeon under the
lake when they used them to store tael. They engage the grigs in a dice game,
gambling for the many varied shiny buttons, and out of sheer luck walk way with
a pearl, a jacinth, and Grubazor’s crystal. Which contains the tael he was saving to promote another ogre
to the magihood – another fortune! (On Prime, the treasure tables that gave
monsters random amounts of gold coins and jewellery are replaced by tael, because
monsters need to collect tael to reproduce, while they literally have no use
Once everyone is restored to health, the barbarian has the
bright idea of tossing his masterwork greatsword into the machine along with a
handful of silver. His intuition is rewarded when a silvered sword, proof against
werewolves and other such creatures, comes out of the machine the next day. The
ranger follows his lead though he’s not normally one for using a greatsword.
The party hangs around for another two weeks, accumulating a dozen extra swords
as trade goods. The remaining grigs look a little askance at this use of the factory but
for now say nothing, preferring to dance and party with their new friends and
the recently healed satyrs.
Tune in next month when the party reaches the fabled Gold Coast
– assuming of course the DM has finished writing it up and doesn’t need to
throw another side-adventure at them to stall for time.