OSR: Ultraviolet Grasslands Session 1

When the last group of PCs dramatically exploded, my vaguely scheduled UVG game was rapidly moved forward. I wrote a GLOG hack, a player-facing intro, and a GM-facing map, crossed my fingers, and rolled some dice.

I even had a low-res copy of UVG printed and bound locally. Would not recommend, but having a physical copy I can scrawl all over is handy.

The Ultrabudget Grasslands
Except it's not even that cheap.

Note: If you haven't read UVG, most of this writeup will seem like psychedelic heavy metal Mad Libs. Even if you have ready UVG it's going to be a mess. Consider checking out Eric Vulgaris' youtube reports.

After rolling for race, stats, and backgrounds, then selecting a class, the starting PCs are:

Granville Porter
Cogflower necromancer lawyer. A mutant human thief/warlock/necromancer with starscape skin and a vibrating thumb.
When Granville's prospects at a major law firm looked bleak, he participated in an expedition to the deep sump-vaults below the Emerald City. There, he discovered a potent machine-shrine to Kon-Fabulate, god of cities, of industry, and of asphalt. Devoting his very soul to his new patron, he gained insight into necromancy and quickly rose in the ranks of his firm. Greed, and the graffiti-visions of Kon-Fabulate, brought him to the Violet City.

Bluelander engineer. A human hunter on the run.
By day, a freelance mechanic and golem-tuner. By night, a member of the Bluelander Liberation Front, a semi-radical group working to undermine the Violetlanders who grow rich on cheap Bluelander labour. Carries a scavenged bolter, a hunting rifle of ancient make and surprising power.

Gormog the Builder

Safarian merchant adventurer. A half-orc barbarian/warlock/fighter.
Gormog went on the same expedition as Granville and was one of the few to return alive. He dedicated his soul to Kon-Fabulate, though he sought martial prowess over mental acuity. He carries a Black City Blade, a sword of paper-thin crystal that cleaves through armour and flesh with ease.

Exiled pirate liberal. A half-elf barbarian.
Chased out of the Red Lands for their radical views, Clovis took to the road with nothing but a head full of ideas.. and a chainsword. Clovis also has a tattoo of an aerolith fortress somewhere near the Last Serai and grand dreams of wealth and power.

Wine vampire priest. A dwarf forcebender wizard/warlock.
Karl (it's a very old family name) serves a sinister Wine Vampires cabal as a priest of Deel, Orbital Wargoddess. The incomprehensible para-wave radio signals beamed to his holy symbol every morning give Karl a fixed and noble purpose; smash the world and rebuild a better one. In the meantime, he's on a diplomatic mission to deliver a priceless pearl to a Porcelain Prince at the Porcelain Throne. After all, what could be more decadent than dissolving a pearl in bloodwine?

Note: 3/5 players choose to take the new Warlock class or template for a spin. Two ended up with the same patron, who wants buildings preserved and new cities raised. One ended up with Deel, who's more on the burning-and-slaughter side of divinity. Check out the Ultraviolet GLOGlands hack for more info.

It'll be... interesting to see how that works out. A boost of immediate power proved too tempting for some players. I suspect they haven't thought through the consequences of working directly for a deity. I need to make a table of whims.

The Caravan

Clovis had a map but no money.
Karl had connections but no escort into the Grasslands.
Gormog had mercantile experience but no backing or plan.
Granville could draw up a contract but was struggling to make money.
And Lapis just needed a ride out of town. The Violet City's merchants were closing in.

They met in Wojer's Coffee House (Open 26/7). Clovis had been trying to attract adventure capitalists for weeks without success. Investing in a treasure map tattooed on an elf didn't appeal to most people. Karl's bosses had advised him to find or fund a caravan; he could leverage his contacts for a very high interest short term loan.

Decadent cat lord Melborne Red, impressed by Karl's letter and ambition, cut him a deal. He had a silo full of slightly mouldy cat coffee. He'd be happy to loan Karl any reasonable sum of cash (at 250% interest with full payment due in 2 months or we put you in the giant apple peeler) and sell him the coffee. Karl could take it to the Porcelain Throne, sell it there, and return profitable and happy. "Get a crew together and visit my villa tonight," the cat lord purred. "We're having a party. I'll sign the documents and you can be on your way at first light."

While Karl was haggling to hire Gormog and Granville, Clovs the elf slid into the conversation with some vague hints of Grasslands knowledge. Listening from her basement lair via a microphone hidden in a flowerpot, Lapis smiled. Perfect. She pretended to wander in, joined the venture as their official cut-rate mechanic, and promised she could arrange her own transportation. Oh yes.

Note: UVG suggest a practically charitable interest rate: 100% annually! That's for amateurs and pensioners. Melborne Red probably expects the group to fall short of full repayment. He knows the contract-driven dwarf will never break his word; they'll just need to come to some other much more profitable arrangement. And put a few of his cronies in the apple peeler. But should they somehow pay him back, he's still laughing. I know this group. They'll do fine... or explode.
The group settled into full logistics mode, calculating travel times, ration rates, and number of pack animals. Their plan was simple: two large carts pulled by two donkeys each. One cart for rations, one cart for cat coffee. Secretly, Gormog adjusted the ratios, cutting two sacks of food in favour of two more sacks of coffee.
Note: I misread the inventory rules. Each PC takes up 2 sacks: one for the person and one for their gear. Here's a handy equation. A caravan needs:
[# of people]x(2+[weeks of travel]) + [cargo] + [heavy or bulky items]
Sacks of capacity to avoid foraging.

I'd stated that wagons have a built-in crew capacity at the table but that'll cause all sorts of trouble later. Next session, we'll need to decide if the PCs went further into debt to buy extra mules or horses or if they decided to walk alongside their wagons. Riding in one, come to think of it, is probably a bad idea anyway. Wagons over rough terrain are not fun.
Meanwhile, Lapis worked on her escape plan. A shop she worked for (Errard Isenbrew's Mechanical Fixations) had a shiny wicker autogolem in for minor cosmetic repairs. It belonged to a local cat lord (someone; not Melborne Red, at least). Fast, air-breathing, and shiny, the autowagon was very tempting. The valuable tools littering the workshop were also appealing to Lapis' eye. Why not put them to better use elsewhere?

She broke into the machine shop late that night to begin packing. Her boss, Errard, was working unexpectedly late. She was nearly caught filling the autogolem's trunk with tools but managed to avert a crisis. Still, her boss was acting very suspiciously. Careful observation via chimney and skylight revealed that he, and some of her coworkers, were running a quasi-legal underground fight ring. Personality override implants, normally used to punish indentured workers without wasting valuable hours of labour, were attached to two Bluelanders. Fights were short but brutal.

At the same time, Karl and the other adventurers visited Melborne Red's all-night party to sign the final paperwork and collect their loan. Melborne, high as a kite and playing with a cat-toy mobile, was in an amenable mood until Gormog suggested lowering the interest rate slightly. Melborne's pet held the half-orc by his collar and berated him soundly, but in the end, agreed to sell them the mouldy cat coffee at a lower price.

Still, the group was nearly €7,000 in debt. Granville's attempt to pickpocket a guest nearly resulted in disaster, but thanks to a hasty apology and an overturned tray of drugs, the group escaped in good spirits. Clovis and Karl both had a lovely time, though Karl spent all night checking clutching the group's bank drafts and notes.

The next morning, while the group inspected donkeys and loaded carts with all manner of useful items, Lapis nonchalantly arrived to work very early to complete the escape plan. Unfortunately, Errard was waiting for her with a loaded pistol. He'd checked the autowagon's trunk. Pointing out that he could be imprisoned (or fined, at least) for running an illegal fighting pit didn't help; Errard pointed out that was an additional reason to kill her. Lapis ducked under the autowagon, shoved it forward, and knocked him to the ground. Then, leaping over the wagon with daggers drawn, she stabbed Errard in the lungs. He got off one shot, but it barely grazed the hardy Bluelander.

Bleeding slightly, Lapis stole the locked cashbox from the office and tried to break into the palm-printed safe using Errard's severed hands. Sadly, the ancient safe remained locked. Spattered with blood and slightly panicked, Lapis threw on her driving goggles, tossed a few more items in the trunk, and sped out of the violet city. The wicker autogolem's wheels bounced over the cobbles as the wayward mechanic sawed at the wheel, spinning around corners and leaping over gutters.

Heavy Metal 03 V1 #6 (1977)
Meanwhile, the group's slow convoy was already on the road. They'd agreed to meet at the Last Chair salon at nightfall; if Lapis didn't turn up, her share was forfeit, and the group was to move on without her.

She blew past them at a ludicrous speed, the rubberized tires of her roaring golem scattering gravel all over the hardy donkeys. If she recognized the convoy she didn't stop for conversation, but arrived at the Last Chair Salon well before dark. An hour later, three vehicles roared by in pursuit. Two clattering petrol-bikes and a long chopper-quad with rotary cannon and two personality-rigged berserkers. They didn't examine the convoy either. They were after the wagon and Lapis.

After bribing the owner with half the cashbox's contents (€100), Lapis stored the wicker autogolem in an underground garage, disguised the entrance and tracks, and watched her pursuers from the top floor of the salon. Her former coworkers, in hot pursuit of the stolen vehicle and delicious revenge, were directed west by the salon's owner. A vehicle had sped past without stopping. No, she hadn't seen which road it had taken.

The pursuers split up. The chopper-quad and one bike went south, while one bike took the long track north. With the light fading, they'd agreed to reconvene at the Salon after sunset and set out again in the morning. When the rest of the PCs arrived, tired, dusty, and in need of a yellow beer or three, they decided pursuit was not in their best interests. Ambushing the mechanics as they returned was far easier. Lapis assured the group this would put an end to all her troubles. She neglected to mention the vehicle's owner.

The ambush was perfect in its simplicity. The PCs strung a polymer rope between two stones on the north road. Hiding behind a rock, Karl watched the south road, readying his warlock-infused wall of force spell. When the lights of the chopper-quad and bike approached the crest of a hill, he simply summoned the nigh-invisible wall at the bottom. The bike hit the wall at full speed and detonated immediately. The quad's driver, a few metres behind, desperately slewed the vehicle sideways, but slammed into the wall and debris too. Both vehicles burned and sizzled.

On the north road a few minutes later, the third biker spotted the column of smoke and stopped to pull out a spyglass. A shot from Lapis' rifle sparked off a nearby rock. The biker hopped back on and spurred the engine to full power. Two subsequent shots missed.

Mad Max: Fury Road
While Granville interrogated a corpse and Gormog cleared debris off the road, Clovis picked through the wreckage and discovered an intact personality override implant. The octopus-like device was worth at least €150, maybe more.

Flush with success, the party moved into the Last Chair Salon and relaxed. One day on the road and they were already victorious heroes with a €2,000 autowagon, a ton of cat coffee, and a plan. What could possibly go wrong?

Find out next session.


  1. Wow, sounds like a wild first session. Looking forward to more!

  2. Man, I wish I was a member of that party...

  3. This is delicious reading *and* is helpful in better understanding the tone and style of the setting.