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The second game I ran at PDXAGE (www.PDXAGE.com) was a home grown Savage Worlds game called “Cleaning Up the Armory”. In this adventure, the players are Washington Army National Guard members who are on drill weekend. They are members of the 82nd Brigade Headquarters company. This is the HQ company for a armored infantry brigade, which is the round out brigade for the 9th Infantry Division, at Fort Lewis. The 82nd Brigade is stationed in Seattle WA, and has mech infantry, medical, helicopter lift, MP, engineer companies based all around Washington State. Many armories have specialized companies in small armories in cities like Kent, Pullman, Spokane, and other cities. The armories keep the load out of equipment for the companies, sans the tracked vehicles, helicopters, and ammunition. The tracked vehicles and helicopters are stored at Fort Lewis and Yakima Firing Center. The ammunition is stored at Fort Lewis.

The party is sent to the decommissioned armory in Ephrata Washington. It was an MP company. The Washington National Guard decommissioned the armory several years ago, integrating the troops and equipment into new new needs. All equipment was removed from the armory, and the doors locked.

After several years of disuse, homeless people have started squatting in the armory, and are causing lots of problems in town. Ephrata is a small town, but the Mayor is personal friends of the Washington Governor. The Governor essentially is the commander of the Washington National Guard. The Guard is actually commanded by a one star General, but the General reports to the Governor. The Mayor was a chief supporter of the the Governor’s latest election race, and the Governor owes the Mayor a favor.

The mayor has read the riot act to the Governor. The Governor has contacted the Brigade commander. The Brigade Commander contacted the Brigade HQ company commander and told the Major to fix the problem at the armory. The telephone game from the Mayor down to the Major (commander of the HQ company) created a weird message set, of which no one is really sure what is going on. It sounds fantastic, and improbable. But the Mayor has made it very clear that the City of Ephrata will not lift a finger to help the National Guard to clean up its mess.
The convoluted message to the major was:

  • The homeless people are creating a drug infested den of horrors
  • The armory is a place for drug infested raves, and people show up and are never seen again.
  • The gang in the armory wear dark clothes and skulk around the town, causing mayhem
  • The gang is practicing blood rites and summoning demons and Devils
  • Human sacrifice is happening all the time and screams and sounds of terror emanate from the building.

The police have been told to leave the site alone, because this is an Army problem and the citizens of Ephrata have no business paying tax dollars to fix the travesty left by the Army.

This is inconceivable.

The Major takes this all in stride. He sends a group of soldiers to Ephrata to roust the homeless people. He does not believe the fantastical tales. He tells the soldiers the following:

  • There is a problem with the homeless people squatting at the armory.
  • The soldiers are to escort the homeless out, and resecure the armory.

Three soldiers are sent to secure the armory. They know nothing of the hysterical rantings of the Mayor via the telephone game. The Major figures that the Mayor was just incapable of controlling his zeal and wanted to scare the chain of command to immediately have the Army take care of the problem, rather than use his own budget to deal with a homeless camp in his town.

So the party has three members

SSGt Weaver, a former Ranger. He is a tabbed ranger who was in the Ranger Bat at Fort Lewis, and now is a Staff Sergeant in the Washington Army National Guard. He will not talk about why he is no longer in the regular Army, let alone no longer in the Bat. He is a tough, resourceful man who lives completely off the grid.

SSgt MacMasters, a former Marine Captain. SSgt. Mac was a captain in the Marines, but was passed over for promotion too many times, and was mustered out of the Marines. SSgt Mac wanted to finish up his military retirement, so he enlisted in the National Guard to make up the last six years of his twenty to retire. SSgt Mac is gruff and very thorough. The men have great respect for him. He chain smokes Doral cigarettes, literally using the last glowing embers of one cigarette to light the next coffin nail.

Spec Aeutna (Tuna) is a Samoan who works at UPS. His job is to sort boxes at the shipping center. He is fast, physically fit and very good at his job. He is exceptionally loyal, and would do anything for Mac or Weaver.

So the three soldiers drove from The Seattle HQ to Ephrata. Nothing unusual happened on the trip. The soldiers arrived at about noon at the Ephrata armory. The soldiers had been here before several years before, to help remove all of the material and close up the building. The Armory was a large one floor building. It had a large open bay area that had a 40-foot high ceiling. Around the bay were offices, storerooms, a kitchen, dining area, and latrine. There were no windows on the outside of the building. The open bay ceiling was about 10-feet higher than the rest of the surrounding rooms, and there were Windows on the top few feet that let daylight in. The front of the armory had a door right to the back of the sidewalk. The rear of the armory was in a fenced area with a large loading dock.

The armory was surrounded by a large fenced parking area. The parking area fence had two gates, one onto the main street and the other onto a minor road at the back perimeter. Two large sheds had lockable doors that could keep generators, trailers and vehicles safe during the times between drills. All of that equipment was previously removed by the National Guard.

When the soldiers drove up to the front gate, they found that the lock had been cut on the gate. Tuna was driving. Weaver was in the front passenger seat. Mac was sitting in the back. Weaver hopped out and opened the gate. Tuna drove in, and Weaver closed the gate behind. Weaver hopped back in the Hummvee and Tuna parked beside the building. Weaver went to the front door and tried the keys. After trying several keys on the ring, he found the correct one and opened the door a few inches. Someone had chained the door handles and padlocked the chain. The door could open enough to see the chain, but not wide enough to get a bolt cutter on the lock.

So weaver went back to the Hummvee and hopped in, and informed the other two. Mac ordered Tuna to drive to the back loading dock. When they arrived there, they saw 12 large palletized blue plastic barrels on the loading dock. This seemed odd, since the place was supposed to be empty.

The soldiers parked the Hummvee and investigated the barrels. They had some pretty scary paperwork on them.  It looked like

So the soldiers looked around, and opened the door to the armory. Inside, they saw two more blue barrels both without lids. The concrete floor around the barrels was wet, pitted and the concrete looked more like gravel than concrete. The upper windows were painted over with black paint. Tuna went for a light switch, and most of the mercury vapor lights in the room exploded in a flash and one solitary overhead light at the far end of the bay halfheartedly flickered to life.

They also smelled a fetid smell of unwashed bodies, decay and general filth. As they walked in, no one told the DM that they were going to prop open the door, so it closed. The party started investigating the bay, and saw piles of clothes, shoes, backpacks and other personal items. There was also a lot of drug paraphernalia. Hypodermic Needles, spoons, small glass vials, butane lighters and the such.

Graffiti was everywhere. Most of the walls were tagged, but one wall had a very artistically gifted picture of a clown painted on the wall.

The party failed their hearing rolls miserably, so they didn’t hear a soft tapping at the door they came in.

The soldiers headed back to the rear doors and attempted to open them. They were wedged shut. After they entered the room, someone inserted hard plastic wedges into the edges of the door. The wedges were quietly hammered into place.

Weaver turned around and went to the front door and found the keys that unlocked the padlock on the chain, and tried to open that door. No luck, that one was wedged closed also.

Mac decided that since they were stuck inside, they should sweep the building to see what was going on. Maybe they could find another way out.

The first door they opened was an old office where the NCO’s had desks. There was nothing remarkable here. The next room was the Commanders office. Once again, there was nothing useful here.

The next room was the latrine. It was very nasty. The squatters had been using the latrine for quite a while, even though there was no running water. Hypodermic needles were littered on the floor. One wall looked like someone was finger painting with feces. Another wall had the words “Jesus Saves, All Others Must Pay Cash” written in blood.

The next room was closed. When Weaver opened the door, he stepped in, and heard a low buzzing sound. The room was very warm. Very warm. In the darkness, it was hard to tell, but one corner of the room looked odd. Like the corner was blocked out with brown paper covering the three feet or so of the corner. As Weaver stepped in, he felt, rather than saw, some buzzing things circling around him. The party decided that this must be a paper wasp nest, and needed to leave the room. Fortunately, Mac closed the door.

So the intrepid soldiers kept looking on. The next room was the Supply Sergeant’s office, complete with the weapons vault. The vault was closed. There was nothing remarkable here.

The next room was a little odd. There were file cabinets in here, and white granular material on the ground. Tuna stepped in, and figured out it was table salt. Weaver pulled open one of the drawers and found the drawer was completely full of salt. He fished around in the salt, and brought out a strip of very well dressed meat which was being jerked. Weaver tasted the jerky, and figured it was pretty well jerked. It had no flavor other than salt, and Weaver preferred to include other flavorings when he preserved meat. But all in all, it was pretty good.

So they went on to the next room. This room also had several file cabinets. The cabinets were all closed. Mac opened one drawer and saw two large gallon sized pickle jars inside. Curious, he pulled one out, and saw a human head inside.

He promptly dropped the jar, breaking the glass and spilling the pickling brine all over his shoes. Weaver immediately rethought his evaluation of the jerked meat, and regretted tasting it. Regretted it a lot.

The soldiers walked to the next room. It was a large room that had a professional sound system and thick black cloth hanging floor to ceiling. Tuna thought this looked like good spot for a rave.  Three corpses were lying in the middle of the floor. Weaver checked on them. Their eyes and tongues were cut out. These bodies looked like they had been ritually sacrificed. Mac looked up on the stage and saw an altar with lit candles and six eyeballs and three tongues laid out.

The door to the room slammed shut and someone yelled out “The Master will not be pleased!” In a harsh guttural tone. Five men in all black melted out from the black curtains and attacked. This is where Mac started to shine. The only weapons the soldiers had were ones they brought or picked up in the armory. No guns. No rifles. No flamethrowers. Mac had a crowbar. Tuna and Weaver had combat knives. Mac destroyed two of the thugs with his crowbar. Weaver killed one. Tuna killed one and grappled another. Tuna tied the one living one up and then Mac started the interrogation.

This little snowflake from Hell was named Yuckmouth. Yuckmouth was dressed all in black, had pasty pale skin and wore black lipstick, finger nail polish and guyliner. He looked like the stereotypical community college Goth on his way to a Siouxsie and the Banshees concert. Yuckmouth had filed his teeth to sharp points and repeatedly tried to bite any soldier who got too close. Mac tried his best to get useful information from Yuckmouth, but all he got were things like “We will harvest you”, “The master gave me a choice, be harvested or be awakened, I don’t think he will want awaken you!” And “The rave last night was so sweet! We have fresh food and don’t need to eat the nasty salty food now!” Weaver became tired of listening to Yuckmouth’s rantings and gagged him.

The next door was locked. Weaver opened up the door and the smell was overpowering. Tuna turned on the light and saw two naked emaciated and dehydrated people writhing and squirming trying to get away through the concrete wall. The room was filled with filth. Bile, excrement, vomit, and worse. Three corpses laid on the floor. When Weaver tried to approach the two people, they recoiled in terror. Mac decided that this was beyond what the soldiers could do now. The soldiers left a canteen of water and food and closed the door back up.

The next room explored was the chow hall. The room was in disarray. Three corpses lay on the floor. Each corpse had chunks of flesh and meat ripped from the neck and arms.

the next room they explored was the kitchen.  Two corpses were laying on the stainless steel table, skinned, gutted, and midway through the process of slicing thin pieces of meat from the cadavers.  The skin, organs and bones were in a wheelbarrow.  Another cart held glass gallon jars of a thick red liquid.

Tuna went into the walk in freezer and found another six corpses hanging from the ceiling.  More gallon glass jars of red liquid were on shelves in the walk in.

About that time, the soldiers heard a scuttling out in the bay. Then there was a loud clunk followed by the sound of liquid moving.

When the soldiers exited the room. They saw the far door to the outside was now open, and one of the drums of acid had been dumped over onto the floor. The floor was smoking as the acid ate through the concrete. Ten goth thugs and two other people stood between the soldiers and the door. The two others were dressed in frilly costumes, that made them laughable. They had sharp teeth and blood dripping from their fangs onto their chins.

Meta gaming here, but vampires should NOT sparkle, nor should they ever wear frilly things. Vampires should always wear a tux, like Lugosi, not Interview With A Vampire. My personal belief, but then it is my blog, so I can rant any way I want.

But I digress. Whatever these freaks were, they were not recoiling from the daylight that was pouring in the open door.

This is where it got bad. The thugs rushed the soldiers. The wannabe vampires moved forward and then all hell broke loose. The thugs ganged up on Tuna, Weaver and Mac. Mac was amazing, killing more than his share of thugs. The other players started calling Mac “Captain Crowbar” because if Mac’s amazing finesse with the brutal weapon. Darryl tried to keep up. Tuna desperately knifed any bad guy nearby. The wannabe vampires shot arrows into the soldiers.

Then it got bad. Real bad. The heroes dice stopped rolling epic rolls and started sucking altogether. Wounds piled up. The vamps came in and wanted to drink blood.

Tuna had an opportunity to cut and run. He had a clear path for the door, but Tuna is loyal, even if it means he may die. Mac was grappled by a vamp and it was trying to suck Mac’s blood.

The party died. Total Party Kill. TPK.

Now, I don’t try to DM to kill players. I want to make it challenging. TPK’s aren’t something I strive for. Rather, I want the party to succeed, but struggle for it.

The players were in good spirits. This was a one off adventure, not the adventure where you spent months perfecting the character. But I still felt kind of shitty. I don’t like TPK. I don’t mind a few party members going through a meat grinder once in a while, but….