Few remembered the details of the 'ancient age', the 'time before' or whatever they chose to call the past. But only 'the now' mattered, the day to day struggle to survive in a world with a scarred, ashen sky and a scorched, dehydrated landscape.
Haven was a bastion against this struggle and a home to my companions and I:
Agent Pip; an Infected. Played by Michaela.
Max Zanzibar; a Veteran. Played by Kevin.
Aoxomoxoa; a Savage. Played by Mark.
Sal Vige; a Scavenger. Played by yours truly AKA Giro.
Since our safe return from the laboratory complex, we had been resting and recuperating from the experience. It was not long however, before we were summoned before the settlement leaders once again.
They thanked us for our previous efforts: The facility's power source was still fully functional and was providing the settlement with the opportunity to charge all of their batteries.
As a reward... the settlement leaders tasked us with another mission.
Four of the townspeople had headed east to the coastline to do some fishing, somthing done commonly as it represented a good source of food for Haven. The four townspeople had not returned.
Initially, they sent out the 'so-called cyborg' Derek 19-4-0 to investigate. Derek went to the coastline, he did not find them, conducted a scan of the region and returned to Haven with the results.
Derek provided us with a printout of his scan. It didn't look much like a printout, it looked more like it was hand drawn...
Anyway. The 'printout' showed a tall headland with a vertical chalky cliff. There were also a couple of tall chalky stacks nearby. Close to the sea level were three caves, one cave in the headland and two in a stack. Derek had designated these as 'deep cave', 'small cave' and 'big cave'. Derek had also marked an area with fallen rocks and a pipe of some sort.
Finally, Derek's printout marked far out to sea the 'boat raider islands'. These were very tall buildings that rose out of a now flooded city from the 'world before' that had been consumed by the encroaching ocean and was home to 'boat raiders'. These boat raiders considered the people of Haven to be savage sub-humans and mutants that lived amongst the radiation soaked wastes. If encountered, they would kill us without hesitation.
We agreed to go and search for the fishermen, Jasper, Crimson, Bradley and the Warhound would accompany us.
Derek explained to us that it was ten kilometres to the coast and he could drive us halfway there, once he had reconfigured his 'cyborg chassis' for transportation mode. This involved Derek going and getting his minivan and giving us a lift...
Anyway. After walking the final five kilometres, we arrived at the headland. From our vantage point we studied the area through binoculars. The entire region was seemingly uninhabited, there was no sign of the fishermen.
Derek's scan had also noted some 'strange tracks' on the cliff on the headland. We searched the spot and found that some of the vegetation had been been eaten, there were also tracks. The tracks 'zig-zagged' across the grass before going over and down the cliff. Try as we might, we could not figure what the tracks meant.
Whilst we were contemplating our next move, we saw a hot air balloon floating up high and out to sea, it was being carried inland on a brisk ocean breeze. As it drew closer, it was apparent that it was being piloted by three lovely ladies. As the balloon drifted by, they waved at us enthusiastically and parachuted a little package down to us. Within the package we found soap, lotion, toothpaste and various other personal sundries. The hot air balloon continued it's journey.
The deep cave
Our next course of action was to climb down to the shoreline and explore the caves. This was not so simple though, neither Bradley nor the Warhound were built to traverse vertical surfaces. In the end we had to proceed without the Warhound. Even though Bradley could not climb, the Warhound was strong enough to lower him down on a rope. We left the Warhound on the cliff top with 'guard mode activated'.
Now that we were at the shoreline and close to the the 'deep cave'. We could see that the lower parts of the chalky rock here were discoloured. This was caused by seawater and the highest part of the discolouration indicated the highest point of the tide. From this we learnt two things. At high tide, the seawater goes into the deep cave and partially floods it. It was currently at low tide.
Upon entering the deep cave, it was obvious that it was a natural formation. We went deeper until the cave turned southwards. That's when the situation changed. As the cave continued south, it narrowed into a tunnel. Unlike the cave this was not a natural formation. Even though it was rocky and uneven it was clearly man made. The tunnel ended in a concrete wall! This concrete wall spanned the entire width and height of the tunnel and there was no way past it.
We examined the wall thoroughly; there was definitely no way past it, no secret door or switch, nothing! Nor could we dig past it, the wall was thick and it even if we had the right tools for the job, it would still probably take hours. We had no choice, but to leave and explore another cave.
The small cave
By the time we returned to the shoreline, it was ankle deep in seawater. The tide was coming in.
Next we decided to explore the 'small cave' in one of the stacks further out from the shore. This meant crossing over, luckily the sea was shallow and easily waded.
The small cave was, like the deep cave, a natural formation and indeed small. Searching it did not take long and there was only one thing to find and it was a gruesome find.
There were dismembered corpses here. It seemed that they had been torn apart and entrails were splattered across the cave floor. Even worse, the corpses were missing the 'fleshy' parts of their bodies, these parts had somehow been sliced off! Cannibals? After our examination, we counted the remains of four people. The presence of fishing equipment would seem to confirm our worst fear. These were the remains of the four fishermen from Haven.
As we were deciding whether to immediately return to Haven or not, the cave darkened. A massive silhouetted form had crossed in front of the cave entrance, blotting the sun out.
As it lunged forward to attack, we saw it was some sort anthropomorphic monstrous half human half giant crab! It had a strange shell-like skin and giant pincers that clicked menacingly.
Our reactions were lightning fast and we peppered it with ranged attacks as it closed on us. It was not enough to put the beast down and it swung at us with its massive claws.
At this time crabs burrowed out of the sandy beach outside and scurried in to join the melee, fortunately they were a mere metre across!
We were able to defeat all of them without much mishap. Looking at the crab-monster pincers, it was apparent that it was responsible for the demise of the fishermen. There was nothing else of importance here.
Leaving the small cave, we entered the 'big cave'. This too was a natural cave formation, it was also empty and searching revealed nothing.
There was only the fallen rocks and the pipe left to explore.
Approaching, we found the open end of a circular pipe nearly 3 metres wide. It had partially been covered in what must have been a rock fall of some kind, perhaps part of the stack had collapsed?
Looking in the pipe, we saw that it was flooded. It was pitch black inside except for a faint glow coming off of the water? There was a stretch of some sort of greenish slime floating in the water that was the source of the glow
Shining our flashlights in the pipe, there was movement of some kind! Just beyond the slime we caught sight of a floating body just as it sank into the dark water. Beyond that there was the glint of machinery and metalwork reflecting the light and sitting on some sort of spot raised out of the water. This might be valuable salvage.
As we were looking for a way to cross the green patch and we noticed a green liquid slowly dripping into the green patch. That part of the pipe was buckled inwards, no doubt there was a split in the pipe caused by the weight of the rock fall that allowed the liquid to get in.
It was decided that I, being the most 'nimble', should run across the curved inside of the pipe and leap over the green patch and reach the machinery. Unfortunately, things did not go to plan. There must have been an unseen slippery spot on the pipe and I tumbled into the green patch. Upon landing in the water I immediately felt a biting pain throughout my body. The green water, it must have been corrosive. Even worse, I then felt something gripping my foot and pulling me in deeper!
Agent Pip reacted quickly and threw me a rope, I managed to catch it and she pulled me back. As I was dragged out of the water, we saw what was gripping me. It had an alluring female head that was attached to a strange naked sludge body. As we pulled it out, several more rose out of the water and advanced on us.
Grabbing our weapons and readying ourselves against their attacks, we were surprised to feel a strange sensation and hear soft voices in our heads. Voices that compelled us to walk into the water, even through it was dangerously corrosive. It proved impossible to resist for some of us - particularly those of us of the male persuasion. Meanwhile the siren-like creatures attacked the remainder of our team.
Over the next few moments we managed to resist their psychic charms, haul ourselves out of the corrosive water and dispatch them.
Now that the area was free of threat, we checked out the machinery. It was junk, all of it was junk. It must have been put there to lure unwitting explorers such as ourselves.
During the fight we had taken a few knocks, so we took the opportunity to tend to our wounds.
We were in two minds about what to do next: Try and continue down the pipe or see if there was anywhere else to explore here.
In the end we decided to explore around the other side of the stack. This bought us to an empty raider boat that had been dragged ashore and camouflaged. The crew was nowhere to be seen and all their equipment was gone. There was only one place they could have gone - the pipe? Perhaps the body we saw sinking into the water was the last of the boat raiders, fallen victim to the sirens.
Realising that we had a use for the boat, we laboriously dragged it into the pipe and pushed it into the water. It floated over the corrosive water, allowing us to use it as a platform to cross.
We pressed further on into the pipe. After about another twenty metres, we reached a steel wall that blocked about two-thirds of the tunnel. Only the top third was open.
There were rungs embedded in the steel wall that would allow us to climb up and over it.
Exploring deeper underground
Unfortunately, Bradley could not climb ladders and we were forced to leave it on guard mode here despite the protestations of Agent Pip.
Climbing the rungs to the top of the wall allowed us to look over it. The pipe turned downwards and continued into the darkness, the rungs also continued down the pipe. As we climbed down, it dawned on us that this could not be any sort pipe, it must be an air shaft.
We reached the bottom of the rungs, the bottom of the shaft opened into the ceiling of some sort of dark room. The floor below was a three to four metre drop, directly beneath the shaft was a puddle of sludge, no doubt caused by a very slow drip from above. The drop into the room would be fairly safe to jump, but getting back up would not be so easy. A pair of ropes were tied to the bottom rungs and we climbed down, avoiding the puddle.
The room was circular with four exits, each one at a ninety degree angle and perpendicular to the others.
The 'south' exit was blocked, there was a barricade constructed of sheets of steel. It was built from this side to keep something out. The same was true of the 'west' tunnel. This left us the 'north' and 'east' exits to explore. We decided to go north.
Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers- C.H.U.D.s
The tunnel was actually another pipe, tubular and the same size and shape as the air shaft. Walking down the tunnel, we caught the reflecting glint of several sets of eyes in the periphery of our flashlights, their height ranged chest height to waist height. Whatever they were, they scuttled away out of the light before we got a look at them.
A little further ahead, the pipe ended at another circular room. Cautiously we stepped in and played our flashlights across the room, looking for the scuttling creatures. They could not move quickly enough to entirely evade the light here. They were hunched, pale and naked, stooped humanoids with large eyes, long fingernails and sharp glinting teeth. There was a lot of them.
Hissing they backed away to the edges of the room, always retreating from the light. Before we had a chance to decide on how to approach them, they had circled behind us. No matter how we shone our flashlights, we could not keep them all at bay and they charged us!
Max was caught unaware and lost his bearings, the rest of us attacked. It wasn't enough and they began swarming us. Each of us was attacked several times. I took a heavy hit from one of them. Between this and my injuries from the corrosive water, I was in a bad way.
We could not allow them to completely surround us and were left with no choice but to retreat back into the pipe, dragging a dazed Max with us. Fortunately it was only a few steps away and was a bottleneck that allowed us to use our flashlights to keep the creatures at bay.
From there we retreated back to the room with four exits. The only remaining open pipe was the 'east' pipe. Whilst Agent Pip guarded the north pipe, the rest of us conducted a preliminary scouting of the east pipe and encountered a series of branching routes. We did not think it was a wise move to try and explore the east pipes with an active threat behind us who were aware of our presence. Unfortunately we just did not have the equipment to deal with the situation. So it was decided to regroup in Haven and return with more equipment and more firepower. We climbed back up the vertical shared, ensuring that we pulled up the ropes and return to the surface.
As we were about to leave the stack, we saw a boat approaching, it was boat raiders, six of them. We hid out of sight in the big cave as they drew closer. This would not work though, there were clear signs of footprints leading in and out of cave, that they could easily use to track us.
Agent Pip used her lure/deter power to scare the leader away. It worked.. for a while anyway. The leader ordered his raiders to turn around and leave. They obeyed, albeit in a confused manner - straining their necks to look back at the stack as they moved off. Pretty soon however, the leader came to his senses and the boat swung back around to the stack.
We waited until they were much closer to the stack and opened fire with out ranged weapons, we even had the warhound on the headland open fire! The fight persisted for a few moments as we exchanged fire with the boat raiders. In the end though, we managed to deal with all of them bar their helmsman, who was desperately looking for a way to escape his predicament. Unfortunately for him, I used my shift power to teleport Max aboard the boat and take him prisoner at gunpoint. Max ordered the raider to beach the boat. After that we secured our prisoner and scavenged their equipment - which was generally better than ours. Then we returned to Haven.
When we had more appropriate equipment and weapons, we would return to the stacks.
The Wasted Hack
This is a post-apocalyptic RPG that was developed out of 'The Black Hack'. Thus, like The Black Hack, this is a 'rules-light' RPG that looks a bit like a old D&D clone, but actually plays in a quite modern manner. There are no skills in this game, instead all actions are tested against whichever is the most appropriate of the game's six attributes using a d20.
There are four classes; damage and hit points are based on these classes, as are 'specials'. Specials are unique to The Wasted Hack. Specials come in the basic and advanced variety for each class. Characters gain these every time they level up.
There's also the chance to gain a mutation after every level up. Mutations sort of fit the roll that was filled by magic.
The Wasted Hack is a little more 'crunchy' than The Black Hack and of course has been hacked to fit the setting, but if you've played one, you'll be familiar with the other.
Waste-Land Beasts and How to Kill Them
As well as the basic rule book there is also this handy 'Monster Manual' that details lots more threats for the player characters to overcome.
Because of lockdown, we're playing over Skype.
Derek 19-4-0's scan of the beach area
Derek 14-9-0 a 'cyborg'
Jasper Prune and Crimson Pluck, loyal henchmen
Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers- C.H.U.D.s
My GM map
You can buy your own copy of The Wasted Hack and its supplements here:
These write-ups by Giro can be read on his excellent website Three Spellcasters and a Dwarf before they appear here.