Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Yeti Sanction, part II (spoilers)

When we last left our intrepid player characters in The Yeti Sanction adventure module, they had just uncovered a Russian mole in the CIA.  This is because a middle-management bad guy had a dossier – written in English – that identifies the mole and explains his mission.  The player characters only become aware of this dossier when the bad guy tries to burn it in their presence.  Uncovering the mole isn't even necessary for the continuity of the adventure; that's how sad this is.  If it was a set up for a dramatic confrontation with the mole, it wouldn't be so bad.  If the mole turned out to be a Yeti-hybrid, I could even cut it some slack.

Anyway, the player characters start out on their journey to Kathmandu.  The plane set to take them on the first leg of the trip is hijacked by nine terrorists.  I would write 'skyjacked', but the terrorists don't wait until the plane is airborne.  “If the characters are able to defeat the hijackers,” the adventure reads, “they will be given the grateful thanks of the airline officials and flown (free of charge) to London.”  Even in the pre-911 era, I think a terrorist attack would have caused the flight to be canceled.  “If the characters are not able to defeat the hijackers, then the plane will be taken to Cuba” where the characters spend two days before they can leave.

Various random encounters are possible as the player characters travel from Kathmandu to the village of Dingpouche.  The listings on the random encounter charts include False Yeti and different types of True Yeti.  The 'New Foes' section of the adventure describes four True Yeti types:
  • Ragshi Bonpo (Tehelma) – “They look like intelligent monkeys” and they “have the powers of Animal Control, Clairvoyance, Invisibility, and Sound Control.”
  • Dremo (Migyu) – These Yeti “are covered with blueish fur with blond or brown highlights.”  They are “extremely aggressive” and “have the powers of True Sight, Fascination, and Sensual Chaos.”
  • Nyalmo (Szu-Teh) – These Yeti stand “8 to 10 feet tall” and “have brown or black fur with blond, red, or gray highlights.”  They “have the power of Fear, and the ability to control the direction of the wind.”  The Yeti described in The Book of Foes is identical to the Nyalmo, except – instead of having the power of Fear – the Foes Yeti can “cause a 10 feet × 10 feet area to Freeze doing 4-24 points of damage (range = 150 feet) once per day.”
  • Rimi (Mih-Teh) – “They have powerful muscular bodies with reddish-blond fur highlighted with white” and they are “12 to 20 feet tall.”  Rimi are “extremely intelligent” and “have the powers of Physical Control and Dermal Armor.”  Additionally, they have the Freeze ability ascribed to the Foes Yeti and the power of “Elemental Shaping (ice or snow only).”
Also listed among the 'New Foes' is Beeveesome, “the ruler of all Yeti.”  He “is an immortal spirit that roams the Himalayas” and “looks like a giant Rimi (32 feet tall).”  Two types of creatures from the elemental plane of air can also be encountered – Welkins (“giant eagles of air that can pick up, then drop victims”) and Ethereans (“seven foot tall, cloud-white humans”).

The non-player character guides state that YETI headquarters “is rumored to be in the small village of Lhotsepurna just below Mt. Everest.”  In the area, YETI is known as a cult and the cultists raid and take over villages.  The guides have planned three possible paths from Dingpouche to Lhotsepurna.  The paths are shown on the map from the back cover of the adventure book (displayed above).  No scale is indicated for this map, but this is not problematic.  Each path takes the same amount time to traverse – “about three days worth of climbing.”  For practical purposes, the only differences among the paths are the terrain types they cross.
The brown areas are morraine [sic].  Morraine consists of loose rock and dirt.  There is a fair chance of a landslide.  The gray areas are skree.  Skree is loosely-packed snow were [sic] avalanches can occur.  The white areas are ice walls.  Ice Walls sometimes cover deep crevasses with a thin layer of ice.  Individuals could fall into the crevasses.  The black areas are bare rock and are reasonably safe.
The different terrain perils have different game effects and different ways they can be mitigated.  Unfortunately, for moraine and ice walls, there is no indication as to how often their respective perils should be checked.

I suppose this is as good a place as any to explain what's really going on.  “YETI actually stands for the Yama Elite Triumphant Immortals,” although the players do not necessarily learn this during the course of the adventure.  The cultists serve what they think is “the Hindu god of death.”  A ship of aliens called the Yuga landed in the Himalayas “because the mountains resembled their home planet.”  Local inhabitants assumed they were messengers of Yama given “their spectacular arrival from space, and the fact that their fur and eyes are Yama's colors (pale green fur and copper colored eyes).”  Anton Markov, “former head of the Asian section of the KGB,” escaped from a psychiatric institute and sought “refuge in the Himalayan mountains where he was joined by some of his special agents.”  Naturally, “a race of megalomaniacs who firmly believe that anyone not dominated by them are their foes” will get along swimmingly with an insane KGB spymaster.  Given “his knowledge of human psychology, [Markov] reinforced the belief of the Yama worshippers that they had encountered the true messengers of the god Yama.”

Where does Markov's plan to foment a nuclear war fit in with all of this?
He managed to convince the Yuga that other humans would kill the aliens if their presence became known.  The only chance for the aliens would be a nuclear war (which would devastate the lowlands, but leave the mountains reasonably untouched).  After the radiation levels lowered, the aliens and Dr. Markov's men would inherit the earth.
As such, YETI might as well stand for Yuga Extra-Terrestrial Integration.  I understand that Markov is insane, the Yuga aren't concerned about a nuclear war, and the cultists can be manipulated into doing anything.  It seems odd, however, that none of Markov's agents resist his plans for nuclear annihilation.  Some Yuga, including Kahai, the leader, have the powers of Hypnosis and Persuasion which they could possibly use against the agents.  Regardless, those powers cannot affect victims for very long.

The aliens have an Anabolic Metamorphosis Machine.  Via this machine, the Yuga transform and mentally program humans into False Yeti.  The Yuga also used the machine to create a twenty foot tall false Yama.  This “false Yama really believes he is the Hindu god of the dead...that he is immortal and that the Yuga are his servants.”

At the climax of the fourth scenario, the player characters are confronted by Markov, Kahai, and ten false Yeti.  We read that...
...the situation looks grim.  Fortunately, help arrives before the battle takes place.  Several metal plates from the right-hand wall come crashing inward.  Through the gap pour 8 Rimi (true Yeti) led by Beeveesome...  When they see the true Yeti, Anton Markov and Kahai the Yuga flee through the far door.  The characters hear (telepathically) a message from Beeveesome, the leader of their allies:  “Leave these abominations to us.  They will not last long against true Yeti.  Bring me the masters of these wretched creatures, and I will reward you greatly.”
Nothing in the adventure prior to this occasion informed the player characters that Beeveesome is an ally or even that such an entity exists.  At this point, less than seven pages of the adventure remain in the thirty-two page book.  Yet the final two scenarios are where the adventure delivers the Lords of Creation goods.

Art by Dave Billman

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