Our Hollow Earth Expedition game kicked off with a bang — the characters, trapped in their Atlantean flying saucer, sinking under the sea after having been hit by heat rays from war saucers from Atlantis. After a tense escape and rush to the surface, they were rescued from the hovering saucers by merfolk, who took them to a grotto in a cave system under the nearby mountains, and which connects to the merfolk’s home.
The destruction of the large war saucer Durga had produced a blast that stunned or killed dozens of merfolk, leaving the characters in a tight spot with King Triton. Eventually, his son Glaucus intervened on their behalf. They were able to exit the cave complex, finding some of the Sanctuary survivors in the process, before returning to find the old liner badly damaged by fire, their pirate ships sunk, and Zek’s airplane destroyed. The Atlantean saucers had decamped. After searching the ship, they were able to find a few survivors, including Zek and his daughter.
After collecting as much food and other supplies as they could from Sanctuary’s stores, they returned to the caves to try and plot their next move. (One of the players was pretty adamant about attempting to use the whirlpool under the Aerie, assuming it some kind of gate, as it is through there supposedly much of Sanctuary’s found cargo comes from.) They were desperate to rescue Olga and Shria, both captured by Thoth, Emperor Mot’s secret police chief during the attacks.
This led to a hairbrained scheme to find and collect the balloon from Ivora’s crashed airship, Sela, and use it to float their lost saucer with the aid of the mermen. With two dozen people, they trekked two days through the dinosaur-filled jungle to the crash site, build a boma and fires to keep the animals at bay, then spend another three days getting the balloon out of the trees, rolling it, and lugging it and the hot air engine back to Sanctuary.
They were able to repair the engine, patch the balloon, and eventually they attached the balloon to the saucer. Using the engine and a long length of tubing made from jungle vines, Zek, Hunter, and Amon inflated the balloon from a small launch. The plan was working, the balloon was very slowly lifting the saucer when Gus decided the process was too slow and attempted to aid the ascent by trying to restart Agni’s engines…a fumble, followed by a good roll succeeded…but sent the saucer up too quickly, out of control and blinded by the balloon. This capsized the launch, and during their rescue attempt of Gus, the characters (plus Amon) were able to get aboard. Just in time for the saucer to lose power over the whirlpool called the “Hole in the World.”
The balloon acted like a parachute, giving them time to seal the saucer before they were sucked into deep water, tumbled and spun in darkness, only to surface a long time later. They found themselves in the saucer, which was again starting to sink, and escape to the surface to find themselves under a sky at sunset, the stars coming out, in the middle of a endless ocean! (Causing Amon no small amount of terror; he’s never seen the sun “go away.”)
Now they are trapped in the Outer World, with no way to get back to rescue Shria and Olga…
This evening was fun for the endless pulp-fiction moments that kept cropping up. The campaign is proving to be a lesson in go big or go home when it comes to playing pulp. The bigger and more ridiculous, the better.