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.
Our last foray into the wastes had provided us with a map courtesy of the road hogs. This map then led us to a crashed hot air balloon. There were no bodies at this crash site, which meant the pilots had been taken away. We also found tyre tracks here, tyre tracks of the kind left by road hogs. The Road Hogs must have created this map after capturing the hot air balloon pilots.
Our next objective was to rescue the pilots.
We had heard rumour of a road hog settlement further north and the map seemed to confirm this. We loaded up on walkie-talkies, ammunition, grenades and a flamethrower. At dawn we set out north in our transporter.
The Filth Mountain
For a day we travelled into the wastelands, through rocky desert, over undulating dune and hill. Occasionally we spotted the distant telltale billowing dust trail of a road hog patrol, these dust trails became more frequent the further we travelled.
As the shadows were beginning to lengthen, something peculiar caught our eye in this flat, featureless landscape. It was a strange, distinctive hill crowned by equally strange clouds. Changing direction, we headed for it.
Drawing closer, our nostrils were assailed by the most indescribable and horrendous odour. Gritting our teeth we pushed on. Finally we saw that it was not a hill, it was a settlement! From our spot, we could see ramshackle houses and makeshift shanties crammed together, a hotchpotch of materials and colours forced to coexist. Layers of buildings were built upon layers of other buildings, rising and rising towards the centre until ultimately culminating in the largest, highest buildings in the settlement that towered over all others.
There were numerous chimneys dotted throughout the settlement. In the dying sunlight we could see them all spewing out thick, black smoke and contributing to the noxious cloud hanging above. This was all wrapped up in a three metre high wall that ringed the settlement, with a 'brown' moat that surrounded it all.
Scouting the perimeter
After parking the transporter in a secluded spot, we scouted the outside of the settlement.
Located along the moat were small clusters of the 'attack pigs' that we had previously encountered accompanying the road hogs, they were generally eating out of the moat and ignored us.
The moat itself was filled with a brown viscous liquid, it was exactly what we thought it was. There were several pipes and channels that fed into the moat from through the wall. Our previous encounters with large bodies of toxic liquids left me with the certainty that something 'nasty' would be residing in that moat. The moat widened and thinned in various spots, but was on average twenty metres wide. A distance not so easily traversed.
There was only one way into the settlement. A causeway that crossed the moat and led to an entrance guarded by several hogs. There was no way to enter that way without attracting attention and attempting to fight our way through seemed unlikely to succeed. We came up with a plan.
Our plan would require stealth and no small amount agility, this ruled out Bradley and the warhound, which we left guarding the transporter. Since Aoxo was quite absent minded this week, he too stayed with the robots. We were accompanied by Jasper, Crimson, D4-VID & Cornelius. It was dark by now and there were few lights that shone out of the settlement considering its size. We circled the moat until a suitable spot was found. A spot where the moat narrowed and there appeared to be no close-by activity inside the wall.
Scaling the wall
After handing Cornelius a rope, I used my shift mutation to teleport him to the other side of the moat. With typical consummate ease, Cornelius scaled the wall and disappeared over the other side almost instantly. A few moments later, he reappeared inside a building adjacent to the wall. He secured one end of the rope here and threw the other end out to us.
Unfortunately the rope landed short and in the moat. We tried stretching out for it, but none of us could reach. Eventually Agent Pip tired of trying to avoid the moat and with a safety rope attached, waded in holding her nose. As Agent Pip grabbed the rope, she felt something grabbing her! Agent Pip gave out a yell and we ran back whilst gripping the rope. Agent Pip was pulled free of the disgusting moat. But something had followed. Covered in filth, a bubbling brown murky beast of some sort rose to the moat's surface, moving towards us.
I called it!
Seizing our weapons, we steeled ourselves for some truly disgusting combat: Firearms were too loud and out of the question, so melee it was. Luck was with us however, once Agent Pip was clear, whatever that thing was, retreated and sank back into the muck.
Now that we had the other end of Cornelius' rope, we found a secure spot, hammered in a piton and tied off the rope as taut as possible. We had a way in and hopefully a way out. With some effort we managed to climb the sticky-but-slick filth coated rope into the settlement.
Wasteland Raider captives
From our vantage point, we could see into the settlement proper now. Most of the streets were narrow and unlit, erratically zig-zagging their way between the tightly packed makeshift structures that passed off for buildings here. Furthermore, they were littered with offal, dead sand maggots, other foul meat and body parts, human body parts. The smell was vile. Whilst observing, we saw on occasion a hog come out grab something off the street and eat it! During this observation, we heard cheering, whooping and engines revving, this loud commotion was coming from the direction of the gate. Quietly we moved over the low rooftops to investigate. A road hog patrol had returned with a prize, six desert raider prisoners.
The prisoners are marched up the main avenue closer towards the centre of the settlement. We followed. They were taken through caked layers of dried blood that surrounded a dilapidated shed and pushed inside. Moments later, agonising screams could be heard before being abruptly cut short. Hogs emerged from the shed carrying piles of body parts which they flung into the street. The body parts rolled and tumbled downhill into the darkness.
From there, the three remaining prisoners were bought out of the shed, they were accompanied by some hogs carrying trays of body parts, no doubt 'the choicest cuts'! The entire group then continued up towards and into the largest building in the settlement. On the way to this final largest building, we stopped to check some of the other larger buildings here. We found breeding pits with enormous sows and nurseries!
After this we approached the final building. We saw that the way in was guarded by some hogs, they were sitting about lazily, but were clearly alert. We considered trying to silently 'take them out', but it was a risky proposition. We needed an alternate way in.
In the end, we turned to Cornelius and his climbing to help us once more. After again taking a rope with him, it was child's play for him to reach the roof. Cornelius secured the rope and dropped ii down to us, allowing us all to climb up. From here, we could see that part of this building's roughly-made exterior had been made from what appeared to be human skin. Breaking into the building here was easy. The roof opened into a very large room below. It was as tall as the building and circular, it looked to be some sort of gladiatorial arena, complete with viewing stands. Now all we had to was lower the rope and climb down into the arena.
Other than single door out, there was nothing of interest in the empty arena. From appearances, it seemed like it was locked during fights, but right now the door was open. The door led to a corridor that ran between two rows of cells. Looking in the cells we found more raider prisoners, a dozen of them. No doubt they were forced to fight in the arena. We asked the raiders if they had any knowledge of this building, but they knew only of the armoury at the end of the corridor.
We were unsure whether freeing the raiders was a wise move or not, we had no idea how they might behave. In the end we chose to free them, at the very least they might provide a distraction for the hogs. There cells were locked, but this did not prove much of an obstacle to us. They were easily freed, but before we could discuss our next step: We heard guards approaching! We instructed the raiders to return to their cells and pretend the doors were still locked. Meanwhile, we retreated into the arena and out of sight. From the other side of the door, we heard guards approach the cells. It was followed by a sniggering, then the shouting and screaming began as fighting broke out.
It was a short fight, already over by the time we got back in. There had been two hog guards and they had quickly been overwhelmed when ambushed by the twelve raider prisoners.
The hogs and been escorting a single raider, he was one of the three surviving prisoners who had been bought into this building. We asked him what had happened to the two other prisoners. He said one of them had been killed and the other given over to the 'pig priests'!
He told us that the priests worshipped 'The Hogshead - king of the road hogs' and mortal enemy of 'The Overfiend'.
In the time we had been talking, the other prisoners had been eating the hogs! Then they stormed the armoury, grabbed weapons and ran off. Well, I guess that they would be a distraction.
After leaving the cells and passing the armoury, we encountered a 'T-junction' and could go left or right. From the left came the sounds of fighting. The raiders had encountered some hogs. We decided to leave them to it and instead went right. The corridor ended in a door, we could see it was not locked. Erring on the side of caution, we carefully listened at the door. It was silent, however we did smell something cooking! The smell of cooking meat was something unusual. All of the offal, corpses and body parts we had seen throughout the settlement had been raw. We had seen hogs eating raw meat.
We looked into the room and it appeared to be a kitchen of sorts, not surprising considering the smell I guess. We entered and looked around, it seemed more or less like a typical kitchen.
There were three pots on the cooker, simmering and bubbling away. The aroma coming from them was quite 'nice'.
There was no way that whatever was in those pots was going to be 'nice'.
Curiosity got the better of Max and he lifted one of the lids...
Inside was some sort of stew, thick, creamy and yellowish. It may have seemed it quite innocuous, but none of us volunteered to taste it. There was a single door opposite that led out of the kitchen. After also listening at this door we heard nothing - and smelled nothing either, other than the usual hideous smell of the settlement!
The balloon girls
Upon cautiously entering this room, we were greeted with a surprising sight! There were three couches in here and on each couch was a sleeping woman. All three of these women were immensely overweight, their corpulence was greater than anything we had ever seen in anyone else. Leaving the trio undisturbed, we gingerly searched the room. Along one wall was a small opening in the bottom corner that allowed a 'waste' channel to exit the room and into the street outside. There was also cutlery and crockery here, among these utensils we also spotted three funnels. Were these women being force-fed?
There seemed to be no other choice but to wake one of these women. Upon being woken, the woman looked shocked! She immediately pulled her blanket over her face, then reached for her make-up and applied it behind the blanket. It was a couple of minutes before she was willing to talk to us. She introduced herself as 'Betty' and told us that it was important that she always looked her best.
Betty went on to explain that her two companions and herself had been flying a hot air balloon and distributing samples of beauty products when they were shot down by the road hogs.
We had encountered three different ladies in a hot air balloon some time ago who were doing the same. Betty added that there were many hot air balloon crews that flew out of 'Dome City' on various tasks that included observing the 'dancing crab'.
Dome City was Betty's home and seemingly a technologically advanced settlement. Something to investigate at a later date.
Betty went on to tell us about the 'hogshead'. The 'hogshead' was a giant pig's head with a twisted and misshapen, rotted body. It was 'worshipped' by the 'red-robe wearing pig priests'.
The 'hogshead' would drool, spit and make strange noises, in turn these 'commands' would be 'interpreted' by the pig priests.
Betty informed us that the 'hogshead' wanted the three of them fattened up for 'a proper meal'! This was not the best of places to linger for a conversation and it was time to move on. Betty awoke her two companions - who had to put make up on and they agreed to escape. Betty, Veronica and Sabrina joined us.
Unfortunately, our escape was instantly cut short. None of the three ladies could fit through the doors out of their bedroom!
Due to the shoddy nature of the whole settlement, we easily managed to break the wall down and widen the doorway. We did the same with the door from the kitchen to the corridor.
We returned to the T-junction. There were no sounds coming from the left way, whatever had happened, it was now over.
The left corridor was the only remaining way for us to go, so left we went. Unsurprisingly, it ended in a door. There were definite sounds of hog activity on the other side of the door when we listened. Very carefully, we opened the door a fraction and looked through.
It was a large room, our attention was drawn to the far side of the room. There was an exit out into the darkened street beyond, It was possibly the guarded way in we had seen earlier.
Looking elsewhere, we saw the 'hogshead'.
Hanging from the ceiling was an enormous pig's head, it was attached to something akin to a sand maggot's body. The whole thing would twitch and wriggle erratically, the head burbled, drooled and uttered weird noises. Then we saw the pig priests in their red robes close to the hogshead. Additionally, on the other side of the room we saw what appeared by their clothing to be military leaders or generals, as well as several guards. Finally, the floor was littered with raider bodies, the former prisoners had been cut down in their battle with the hogs. Two of them had 'escaped' this fate and were hung up.
Quietly we closed the door, stepped back and took stock of our situation. Fighting was not an option. There were a lot of hogs in that room and there was no way we could deal with all of them without raising a hue and cry.
There was no way that the three ladies could climb the rope to the roof back at the arena either.
In the end, we could only think of one option. We returned to the bedroom. The waste channel here flowed through a hole in the wall and led to the outside. This would also be our way out.
Widening the sewer exit was a little more effort than widening the door, but it was not beyond us and soon enough, we were back in the settlement. The empty streets were cloaked in darkness as we crept back down towards the settlement's wall.
We could not escape via the zipline, it would not bear the weight of the three ladies, nor could we get past the guards without being spotted
Luckily we came up with another plan. Using my shift mutation, I could teleport at least two of the ladies out of the settlement to a spot I could see. Conveniently, the main 'avenue' ran from the centre of the settlement in a somewhat straight line out to the perimeter. From the avenue I could just about see all the way out to the wasteland and beyond the moat.
Radioing Aoxo and the others, we instructed them to reposition the transporter close to a spot I could see. I was then able to teleport all three ladies out to the transporter. My shift mutation had been exhausted in doing so and I would not be able to make use of it again for a day or so. It was not important though. Without the three ladies, the rest of us easily slid out of the settlement on the zipline.
Returning to the transporter, we all squeezed aboard, turned south and headed home. We drove through the night, the journey back was uneventful and it was daybreak by the time we safely arrived back at haven.
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.
No Mark this week, he was away on his yacht for the weekend.
Jasper and Crimson, always happy to risk their lives for a few credits
The balloon girls
This was an interesting session. I jotted down a page of notes on the Filth Mountain, the Hog's Head and how everything functioned as a settlement.
I wanted Wasteland raiders present so the player characters could learn about the Overfiend and I wanted Balloon ladies somewhere so they could learn about the domed city. Both were easy to introduce as the characters explored.
Then I just waited to see what the players would do.
As an afterthought I added sewage golems from Waste land Beasts to the shit-filled moat because they seemed like a good idea. All-in-all it turned out to be an excellent player-led adventure and D4-VID captured some exciting footage of the action.
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.