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After-Action Report: The Horror at Tuckers' Farm (Strange Aeons 2E)

Sheriff Dingle knew the Tucker family was weird, but until this night he had no clue how crazy they really were. They'd opened fire on Agents Shaw and Young before they'd announced that they were law enforcement. But even after he shouted "Police! Hold your fire!" they continued their assault. Nor was he prepared when, in response, the "consultant" pointed at Agent Shaw and shouted a litany of strange words at him, causing a bizarre rippling effect in the air between them. Dingle could swear, just for a moment, he saw a faint glow surround the FBI agent, who then hopped the fence and stepped confidently toward the three shotgun-wielding Tucker boys and laid them low with a blast from his sawed-off shotgun.

The Feds were definitely employing some new level of law enforcement tactics, the likes of which he'd never seen.

Everything after that was a blur. There was the roar of a chainsaw, screams, more shotgun blasts, and underneath it all, from the creepy woods, the cries of uncounted whippoorwills and a chanting voice that made his skin crawl. He rushed to help two allies after they fell to Ma and her chainsaw (before she, herself, fell to Agent Shaw's shotgun). He was loathe to follow the agents into the woods, so he contented himself with aiding the bleeding men as the two Feds disappeared into the trees. He was wrapping a tourniquet around the Brit's arm when the chanting reached a crescendo, then it and the deafening cries of the whippoorwills suddenly stopped.

What followed was a sound Dingle knew he'd never forget - a voice like a crack of thunder, uttering words he didn't understand but which made every fiber of his being want to flee pell-mell from this accursed farm.

The voice was answered by the familiar double report of the sawed off shotgun, and instantly the whippoorwills' cries filled the air again. He looked up and watched as the birds jetted from the trees, a swirling, writhing mass of black cacophony rising into the sky as if in pursuit of some invisible prey. Then the night fell silent. When the agents appeared at the head of the path leading into the woods, he could tell from their stony expressions that they'd arrived too late to save the girl.

But the night's weirdness wasn't over, despite all of the Tuckers having been silenced. The thinner of the gray-suited Stilman Institute men pushed him aside and laid his hand on the bloody gash in the paranormal investigator's shoulder. He closed his eyes and was still for a moment, then moved to the other fallen man in gray and did the same. Dingle watched in amazement as the two fallen men, whose wounds he knew had to be fatal, opened their eyes and sat up. They shook their heads as the color returned to their previously deathly pale faces. The others helped them up, and he followed in disbelief as the two groups all gathered in front of the Tucker farmhouse, everyone seemingly health and strong.

He was just about to put his disbelief and wonder into words when a sound stopped them all in their tracks. A croaking, like a group of giant bullfrogs with throats full of mud, sounded from the field behind the ramshackle barn. They all stood and watched as a pair of shadows hove into view. They were giant, formless masses of flesh, undulating across the ground toward them with preternatural speed.

Cries of alarm went up and everyone ran for cover as Dingle stood and stared - he felt like he might pass out...

We started the second game right where we left off after the raid scenario. Again, the other two players each played their not-Threshold teams, while I played a double-value group of Lurkers. As we were playing the scenario Monster Attack, I opted for two 16-point monsters. (It felt more correct than playing a single, 32-point monster - although that might have been fun, too!)

The players decided to call the beasts El Monstro Negro and El Monstro Rojo to tell them apart. I affectionately dubbed them Blackie and Rose.

Rose moves up...

As does Blackie...

Fortunately, Constantine was able to use Compel Beast early on to prevent one of the creatures from acting for a couple of turns, allowing the teams to focus their actions against the other.

Unfortunately, the Sam and Dean player made a mistake in his first turn, leaving Dean too far from the rest of the group to use his Command skill and causing the group to be unable to activate effectively. He also neglected to have Constantine use the Bless Characteristic spell on Sam before sending him to wield his shotgun against one of the monsters. The first few rounds, as a result, were utter chaos, as the two groups discovered quickly that their firearms were nearly useless against the formless things.

Before long, the creatures got into range. Ezra's 9mm handgun had been blessed by Lilith, giving it +2 damage and making it their best chance to injure the beasts. But his first shot was a misfire, and the gun jammed! Rose seized the opportunity and charged him. He went down in an instant...

...And the beast charged Sam, knocking him unconscious!

Meanwhile, Blackie - finally breaking free of Constantine's Compel - charged the sorcerer...

...And laid him low!

Sheriff Dingle rushed in to save the fallen Brit...

...Only to fall in combat, as well!

Things were really looking grim for the heroes at this point. The monsters seemed nigh invulnerable. In a mad effort to save Sam, who, unconscious, would get taken out if Rose got another action against him, the remaining members of the Stilman group drew their knives and rush the monstrosity.

And Dean, desperate to give his brother a fighting chance, fool-hardily charged Blackie.

Armed with just a hunting knife, Dean survived three rounds of combat against the gurgling Hell-spawn, and Lilith's group held Rose at bay long enough for Sammie to regain his senses and get to his feet.

They all struggled against their respective opponents, Lilith's group using their numbers to at least hold the beast at bay, and Dean withstanding three more rounds of combat despite the beast's advantage.

Finally, Lilith's team and Sam overwhelmed Rose, their greater numbers allowing them to chip away at its wounds. They knew Dean couldn't last much longer against Blackie - he was on borrowed time. Unfortunately, they had no actions left to get to his side as another three rounds of combat loomed. But Dean proved to be a better fighter than anyone expected, and he put his knife to good use, carving the beast's jelly-like flesh from its non-existent bones in a single round of combat!

(Note the pair of sixes - Dean's critical melee roll, which was followed by a three-hit damage roll: a four and two fives, which - added to the +1, AP 1 from his knife and +2 from his critical hit - equaled the formless thing's CON + Armor and removed its remaining three wounds.)

The game was exciting right up to the last stab of Dean's knife. Not only did we all expect the heroes to lose after losing Ezra, Constantine, and Dingle, but we were all sure that Dean would fall at any moment. The fact that he held out as long as he did in single combat with the formless thing amazed everyone, and we were all downright shocked when he managed to get three wounds against it in that final round of combat. Dean definitely earned himself some pie!

Of course, the heroes aren't out of the woods yet. They now know that even with the Tuckers gone, they're in hostile territory. They need to get back to their cars and high-tail it out of here before something else shows up to try to kill them.

Next time: Escape... Into Danger!


So, it's another loss for the scoreboard. But if I'm being honest, this was a thrilling game, and the way Sam and Dean's player pulled it off was worth a dozen losses to witness.

A Hard Won Thing Scoreboard:

3 wins / 2 draws / 21 losses