Friday night, the Ottawa crew embarked on further pulp adventures using A Team of Losers. The team includes the archaeologist Dr. Nicholas Hollows; the martial artist and occult seeker Johnny Cargen; the gunslinger Gertrude Blaze, a trick-shot artist with a background in circuses/travelling carnivals; Zantar, Lord of the Jungle; and Lenny Something, non-descript comic-relief and remorseless killer.
Gertrude Blaze was not in attendance for this game.
A Team of Losers is based on the Untitled Game System. You can find out more here.
When last we left our intrepid band of adventurers, they had uncovered a fragment of the Pithos of Pandora and has used the inscription on it to ward off two white witches. Overcoming the forces of the Priests of Thoth and the minions of Thethei, they finally faced and defeated Thethei himself.
Zantar, Lord of the Jungle, recognized inscriptions in the temple complex as similar to those he knew from ruins in Africa. Those ruins were in the territory of the Numalo, a tribe of tool-using great apes/hominids with a basic vocal-somatic language. These are the apes that raised Zantar and of whom he is lord. The group flew to Brazzaville in French Equatorial Africa, where Zantar was wanted as a revolutionary – how dare he try to stop the rape of his homeland and the murder of his adopted tribe?
Linking up with Zantar’s old contacts and totally deceiving the local police, the group hired a river boat to take them to Mossaka, from which they would need to hike six days along the Likouala River to reach the territory of the Numalo.
During the trip up, the first mate of the river boat snuck off and met a group of Bambuti (aka Mbuti or Pygmies), and he was overheard telling the Bambuti that the PCs were seeking “broken clay thing.” Spotting the PCs, the Bambuti attacked. The PCs captured the first mate and the Bambuti, and the Bambuti said they had been visited by a representative of their god and told to guard the “broken clay thing.” The first mate says he was hired by a corrupt cop back in Brazzaville to report in on the PCs to the Bambuti.
The rest of the trip was uneventful, but upon reaching Mossaka, they found a ghost town. Tracks suggested the Bambuti had attacked the village (really just a depot with a few buildings no more than a dozen residents) but among them was a giant – based on footprints – who walked toe-heel rather than heel-toe, which Dr. Zarkov identified as a behaviour linked to the mythical Sasquatch of North America (but also a behaviour of apes with mid-tarsal break).
Travelling in land, the PCs identified a German Heinkel He 59 float plane flying south along the river, and then four days in, north along the river. Since the group were near German Cameroon and rivers were generally used for navigation, this aroused only moderate suspicion. On the fourth night in, Johnny felt a thrill of something akin to fear – obviously, something Johnny had almost forgotten existed – and saw shadows moving on the ground, but could not discern any actual figures. The feeling dissipated and the group could find no evidence of intruders that night or the morning after. The next night the same occurred during Zantar’s watch.
On the sixth day the group came across a clearing in Numalo territory, newly cleared and surrounded by poles on which were affixed the skulls of twelve Numalo. A raised mound in the centre of the circle proved a burial pit, with bones seemingly boiled clean. Racing to the site of the ruins, the group encountered the bodies of the rest of the Nuamlo tribe, shot or pierced by darts (which was incorrect – the Bambuti use poisoned arrows, not blowgun darts – my bad). The finally body, on the outskirts of the ruins, was Zantar’s adoptive mother, an aged she-ape.
The ruins themselves had been cleared of vegetation and one of the buildings apparently rebuilt with a copper roof and bronze doors. The only tracks were those of sandaled feet. There was no evidence of how the stones to rebuild could have arrived at the ruins. Opening the bronze doors, the PCs found the bodies of a dozen Bambuti and two German Wehrmacht officers, totally stiff and stacked like cordwood.
Moving the bodies, the PCs found script similar to the one in Momun which referenced Pandora. At night, they encountered a spectral form of a cobra-headed man claiming to be Arebati, King of Niankukla and claiming to be the guardian of a fragment of the pithos. He says he has defeated Thethei and his minions (he referenced Negoogunogumbar and Obrigwabibikwa) and has no fear of them while he remains in Niankukla.
In a silent jungle, lacking even the sound of birds or insects, the PCs parley with Arebati, uncertain how to deal with this mysterious figure.